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Hue Festival – A Biennial Cultural Celebration in Vietnam

An art extravaganza that opens a space for cultural exchange between people, with a variety of events is what makes up the Hue Festival. From massive street art performances, art exhibitions, poetry competitions, to people dressing up as prince, princesses, eunuchs and maids. An amalgamation of an imperial art show, traditional plays and a lot more; Hue Festival is all about bringing out the past culture in the best possible way every other year in Vietnam.

Hue City in Vietnam, which is beautifully nestled amidst the Ngu Binh Mountain and stretches along the Huong River is quite famous for its rich culture and historical background. And to experience the best of its traditions and rituals, what’s a better way than being a part of the magnificent biennial Hue Festival. It is one of the most widely celebrated festivals in Vietnam, and it attracts many visitors from all over the world. The festival includes different cultural activities which are related to international cultural exchanges and traditional customs. So, if you are travelling to Vietnam during the Hue Festival, you will be able to get engaged with different activities and hence, you will feel like a local even as a tourist. 

Hue Festival 2020 Dates

The festival usually takes place in April, and some of the major events are conducted on the grounds of the Hue Citadel. In 2019 it was held from 26th April to 2nd May.

History of the Biennial Festival

Lion Dance
Traditional Lion Dance (source)

Hue Festival got its name in 2000 and was a part of the successful Vietnam-France Gathering of 1992. Since 2000 till today, Hue City has been able to celebrate a total of eight festivals every two years. It is a tourism and culture event and also the very first national as well as international festival in Vietnam. Every event in this six days long festival consists of various traditional activities honouring the cultural values of the country in general. It also portrays the essence of the ancient imperial city of Hue in its all certainty. Several international performing arts groups participate in the event, along with a bunch of interesting performances by artists from all over the world. So, if you are Hue during this time, you would surely not want to miss any of it! All the special performances are usually loved by many international as well as domestic travellers and they even wait for the next festival to arrive for experience the same in a different theme altogether.

Some Past Traditional Revelries Followed in the Festival

Hue Festival
Hue Festival (source)

The Hue Festival brings together participants from 40 international art bands, which includes a huge number of traditional artists from around 30 countries. Each one of them promises to give the visitors golden opportunities to behold and appreciate varied traditions through multiple art performances of different styles, origins and genres. From court to folk, from East to West, from music, drama, dance and costume exhibitions, Hue Festival has it all!
  • Hues of Asia: One of the major events in the festival is the Oriental Night, which is a fashion show solely dedicated to the traditional dresses and costumes of Asia. It takes place every year at the festival, and it brings together native models from different Asian countries like Mongolia, Japan, Thailand and India. This night not only showcases the beauty of these different costumes but also the different races. This display promises to show the audiences the different concepts of beauty in the whole of Asia.
  • Echoes of Australia: Hue Festival 2012 showcased the energetic dance moves along with rowdy music of the aboriginal tribes in wild Australia. The group of artists, named Descendants, portrayed their indigenous Australian art forms in front of the audiences with a unique folk dance. They even played one of their local musical instruments known as Didgeridoo.
  • Fresh Cuban Dance Forms: Cuba is all about funky dance forms of Rumba and Salsa and one of their folk art troupes – Deep Roots, performed in the past in the Hue Festival. They awed the audiences with different variations of Rumba, Havana, and other popular dance numbers like the cha-cha-cha, Danzon, Casino and Bolero.
  • Soothing Folk Music from Europe: Soulful jazz by some Polish artists and traditional Mazurka were combined and presented in front of the audiences in 2012. Janusz Prusinowski Trio, a popular folk band, performed some beautiful Mazurka songs in a very traditional manner by using some classical instruments like wooden flute and violin. The piano sounds were lovely, arranged with some traditional jazz melodies.  This heady brew of folk with pop music gave the international tourists a refreshing high.

A Few Tips to Enjoy the Hue Festival at its Best!

Vietnamese Locals
Vietnamese Local (source)

When in Rome, do as the Romans do! And this phrase proves true for all travellers who are travelling to a different and new country for experiencing the best of their local cultures. So, in case you happen to be in Vietnam during the Hue Festival, you need to chalk out a proper plan for all the six days of the festival to go back home with the best of memories that will last for a lifetime! Here are a few tips which might help!
  • Try Out the Best Foods Possible: Visiting a cultural festival and not relishing its local cuisine is truly not done. Especially for the Hue Festival, you need to try out different dishes, from street foods to Royal cuisines. You can visit the food stalls with all kinds of food from all over the globe. You can relish the Royal cuisine during the Imperial Night event in the Citadel.
  • Visit the Various Exhibitions: A series of different exhibitions featuring varied aspects of the Hue culture is worth visiting during this festival. This can be your once in a lifetime opportunity to admire the masterpieces from worldwide. There are photo exhibitions as well as illustration arts to see and appreciate.
  • Spend a Fun Time at the Music Events: During the Hue Festival, music bands from around the world are invited to perform, and these events are really fun to be a part of. Music concerts are being held, and some performances are just too hard to give a miss! You can enjoy different kinds of music, starting from folk to traditional and classic, and have a great time with friends or family!
  • Be a Part of the Traditional Customs: One of the best ways to feel the true essence of the Hue Festival is to be a part of the local customs and traditions. Hue culture is unique and varied, and hence, it can be truly surprising for you as a foreigner. Nam Giao Offering Ritual, Kites Display and the Traditional Boat Race Festival are some of the best options to be a part of.
Hue Festival is all about cultural extravaganza for demonstrating the most loved artistic communities of Vietnam. For a tourist, it is a must-experience festival to be able to appreciate the profundity and depth of the country’s rich culture, history and artistic triumphs. Hue Festival is all set to take place in 2020, so you should start planning for the same soon to get yourself an accommodation of your choice and an airfare in your budget! The country overflows with tourists during this biennial event, and hence, you need to plan early.

This post was published by Anuradha Chakraborty