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VietNamNews

HCM City shares Christmas with the poor

Update: December, 24/2017 - 09:00
New troupe: Young actors from the Chuồn Chuồn Giấy Drama Club, one of HCM City’s new drama troupes, is celebrating the holiday season with comedy shows about love and youth. - Photo courtesy of the organiser)
Viet Nam News

Christmas Eve musical performances and other holiday events in HCM City feature big names and promises .. and plenty of entertainment for the poor and disadvantaged.

By Thu Anh

Among the many festive events scheduled for the holiday season in southern Việt Nam is a music concert and fashion show expected to draw 10,000 local and foreign guests looking for an escape from the frenzied atmosphere of bigger cities. 

Actors from traditional art troupes are reaching out to residents in every corner of the city, offering a variety of free shows during the season.

The music gala Duyên Dáng Việt Nam (Charming Việt Nam), which will be held at Lâm Viên Square in the resort city of Đà Lạt on Christmas Eve, will feature 50 singers, dancers, theatre artists and a symphony orchestra. 

Vietnamese-American singers, Elvis Phương, Khánh Hà and Tuấn Ngọc, will perform songs about winter and love by veteran composers, while local pop stars Thanh Hà and Hồ Ngọc Hà will sing famous ballads, such as Đà Lạt Lập Đông (Đà Lạt in Winter), Trên Đỉnh Mùa Đông (In the Peak of Winter) and Dốc Mơ (Dream Slope). 

The event will include a fashion show from designer Quỳnh Paris, who has presented collections at fashion weeks in Việt Nam, New York and Los Angeles.

More than 30 items of clothing from the designer’s latest fall-winter collection will be worn by 20 top models, including Thanh Hằng, Hoàng Thùy and Lê Thúy.  

At another music event in Đà Lạt, young HCM City singers, including girl bands Mắt Ngọc, Sgirl and Ayor, will show off their vocal and dance skills accompanied by electronic music.

Party time: HCM City celebrates Christmas and New Year  - VNS Photo Anh Thư

The show, Đêm Hội Tơ Trà Bảo Lộc (Festival Night of Bảo Lộc Silk and Tea), will also feature pop stars Cẩm Vân and Mỹ Tâm. It will open at 8pm for two nights, December 25 and 27.

These events are part of the seventh Đà Lạt Flower Festival, organised by Lâm Đồng Province and its partners, which begins on December 23 and runs to December 28.

Last week, in Hà Nội, the festival season opened with the music gala Khát Vọng Trẻ (Youth Aspirations). More than 200 artists and musicians performed songs and dances in praise of country, youth and love in front of about 3,000 people.

On Christmas Eve, dozens of fashion models, pop stars and actors will perform on an outdoor stage in Gala Xmas 2017, which will have spectacular light and sound effects, at HCM City’s Youth Cultural House in District 1.

Young singers Đông Nhi, Ông Cao Thắng, Minh Hằng will sing Christmas songs such as Joy To The World, Silent Night and Holy Night in both Vietnamese and English, together with yonng members of the cultural house. 

Đầm Sen Park in District 11 and Suối Tiên Park in HCM City’s District 9, two of the city’s biggest entertainment centres, are also promoting the holiday spirit through special programmes.

Guests will enjoy free music, dance, comedy, circus and puppet shows. Free tickets, candies and toys will be offered to disadvantaged children from shelters and open houses around the city.

The holiday season is also being celebrated with open-air festivals featuring art exhibitions, puppet shows and concerts on Nguyễn Huệ Pedestrian Street in HCM City’s District 1. 

The city government and its partners have put up thousands of coloured lights and lanterns along major streets, in cluding Đồng Khởi, Phạm Ngọc Thạch and Lê Duẩn. we want to create a happy and peaceful Christmas and New Year, especially for the poor, who love artistic activities but can rarely enjoy them," said the troupe director Ngọc Hùng, adding that his actors were not looking to make a profit from the shows.

This year, the Notre Dame Cathedral has been closed to visitors for its first renovation since being built in 1877.

Father Hồ Văn Xuân, head of the renovation management board, said that about VNĐ100 billion (US$4.5 million) donated from individuals and organisations would be spent.

The cathedral is closed to visitors, but rites and ceremonies will continue.   

New films, plays

For movie fans, Vietnamese productions Lôi Báo (In the Storm), Khi Con Là Nhà (When You Are Home) and Giấc Mơ Mỹ (American Dream) are all expected to be popular.

Giấc Mơ Mỹ, a drama by female director-scriptwriter Hồng Ngân, features challenges and conflicts that face overseas Vietnamese, while Vũ Ngọc Đãng’s Khi Con Là Nhà is a comedy about love and family issues. Both appeared in cinemas last weekend.

Lôi Báo, a superhero film from director Vietnamese-Canadian Victor Vũ about the secrets of a superman who fights evil and protects justice, is destined to be a hit at the box office.

“My film is not about a Hollywood superman. It portrays a Vietnamese character who lives simply, but works to keep the country and people safe,” Vũ told local media before the film’s screening. The film will be released on December 22.

For theatre fans, new plays performed by young actors from the Thế Giới Trẻ (Youth World) Troupe of the HCM City University of Theatre and Cinematography will be a good choice.

Their shows, such as Chúng Ta Không Thuộc Về Nhau (We Do Not Belong Together) and Hồn Anh Xác Em (Your Soul-My Body), feature the topics of love and women. 

"It’s our tradition to travel to rural areas because we want to create a happy and peaceful Christmas and New Year, especially for the poor, who love artistic activities but can rarely enjoy them," said the troupe director Ngọc Hùng, adding that his actors were not looking to make a profit from the shows.

Most of the theatre shows began this week and will continue through January 1.

Shopping, charity events

Shopping malls in HCM City have been increasingly busy as customers are rushing to buy Christmas gifts, with Takashimaya,Vincom, Diamond and Lotte malls offering final sales of up to 50 per cent discount on famous domestic and foreign brand names.

Many kinds of Christmas ornaments, gifts, cakes and candies are also popular, as are colourful displays where many young people take photos of themselves to post on Facebook.  With only VNĐ30,000 ($1.2), they can buy a beautiful card or small gift to cheer up friends and relatives.

“I offer more than 400 kinds of Christmas trees and ornaments this season. Sales are expected to increase by 10 per cent compared to last year, although the prices are 5 per cent higher,” said Nguyễn Thị Tuyết, a gift shop owner in Hải Thượng Lãn Ông Street in District 1.

Glitter: Shops featuring Christmas ornaments, gifts, cakes and candies attract crowds. - VNS Photo Anh Thư

Hải Thượng Lãn Ông Street has 20 shops offering Christmas goods, mostly imported from China, Thailand and Singapore.

According to Tuyết, real Christmas trees up to 3.8 metres long imported from the US are being sold for VNĐ20 million (US$900), while synthetic trees from Korea and China cost around VNĐ1.2 million ($48).

“Real trees are often rented by big companies and offices. Many customers prefer small trees for only VNĐ500,000 ($22) each,” she said.

Shops around Tân Định Church in District 3 are busy selling Christmas decorations for VNĐ10 million ($440) to VNĐ30 million ($1,320), while bakeries offer special cakes in different shapes and sizes for VNĐ200,000 ($9) to 800,000 ($36).  

As in previous years, the Society Services Centre for Young People has sent volunteers to spread Christmas cheer among disadvantaged children in the city.

Hundreds of volunteers dressed in Santa Claus’s traditional red-and-white costume visit shelters and open houses in rural districts, offering children toys and gifts donated by sponsors.  

"We want Christmas to be about giving and making all children happy. I love hearing ‘Hello! Mr Noel’ from everyone on the streets,” said volunteer Phạm Minh Chánh, who plays the plump man and delivers gifts every night.

Actors from traditional art troupes are reaching out to residents in every corner of the city, offering a variety of free shows during the season.

Puppet artist Hùng Cường of the HCM City Circus Troupe said: “Our Christmas and New Year programmes began early this week, offering free music and song performances, theatre shows, and traditional games for poor children in the rural outlying districts of Hóc Môn, Bình Chánh and Củ Chi.”  — VNS

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