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Hue dolled up for festival opening tonight

The trees are glittering with fairy lights and lanterns, the perfume river is strewn with floating flowers and cellophane horses are “galloping” above the heads of excited locals and visitors.

The ancient city of Hue on the central coast of Vietnam is in festival fever with the opening of a nine-day arts event starting this evening.

Organizers have billed this years’ festival as the grandest and most impressive on offer since Hue began hosting festivals in 2000.

Organizers state that visitor numbers are expected to be the highest on record.

Yet international guests were scarce on the streets of Hue Monday, although those who happened to be in town were queuing for tickets in the festival office.

American traveler Ken Grobe was passing through Hue when he found out the Festival Hue 2008 was scheduled to begin the day he planned to leave.

He and his wife rushed out to buy tickets and change their travel arrangements.

“We saw signs for the festival and once we started looking around the citadel, we saw stages being set up in these amazing locals.

This was the clincher for us.

The citadel is an amazing site to begin with, but the fact that there were going to be outdoor stages in these courtyards and incredible palaces just did it for us.”

June is characteristically a low-season in terms of tourist numbers.

The Hue Imperial, the only five-star hotel in town, has an occupancy rate of 30 percent during the nine days of the festival, which is typical for this time of year according to the hotel’s sales executive Minh Thang.

Thang stated that guest numbers increase later in the year and few guests had booked specifically for the event.

The festival will feature performances from various Vietnamese cultural regions, while highlighting the works of central Vietnam, in particular Hue itself.

This year’s program is also steeped with international acts, including Belgium pianist Jean-Frangois Maljean, French dance company Fetes Galantes, the Lotus Art Troupe from China’s Guangxi, and Russian Folk Dance Ensemble Kalinka.

Tickets are still available and range in price from US$10-35 for foreigners.

Reported by Sally McDonald

source: thanhninennews

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