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