Hue Festival 2008 - A feast of festival
Right after the closure of the Hue Festival 2006, Hue has started without delay its preparation for the Hue Festival 2008. The program of this year’s festival highlights seven great festivities. In addition to the Nam Giao Offering Ritual, Royal Palace by Night, and Ao Dai Grand Fashion Show which were successfully showcased within previous festivals and will be renewed on a higher scale this year, there are four novel festivities to be introduced including the reenactments of Quang Trung Emperor’s Coronation Ceremony, Xa Tac Offering Ritual, Military Mandarin Contest, and the program of “Perfume River’s Legends”.
First is the Enthronement Ceremony of Quang Trung Emperor. This ceremony honors the magnanimous and indomitable spirit and traditions of the Vietnamese people. In 1788, our national hero, Nguyen Hue, had Ban Mountain leveled to make an esplanade for the Heaven prayer rituals. He was then enthroned king with the title of Quang Trung. Then to legitimate his throne and to garner the people’s support, King Nguyen Hue, led a great army North and defeated an army of Manchu invaders, 29 thousands soldiers strong. The Enthronement Ceremony of Quang Trung Emperor will be recreated monumentally at the historical site of Ban Mountain with the key participation of hundreds of Hue actors and martial arts students to the sonority of Tay Son – Binh Dinh martial music. To prepare for this ceremony, from 2007 until the present time, the embellishment project of Ban Mountain, an area of 32 hectares, has been rapidly moving forward. The ceremonial program has been developed and refined. Director Nguyen Quoc Hung, of Ho Chi Minh City Television Station, will be in charge of this program. Certainly, this ceremony will be very popular with tourists and local inhabitants alike.
Xa Tac Offering Ritual, in ancient times during the Nguyen Dynasty, had been an important royal ceremony taking place in spring and autumn. This is a ceremony honoring the God of Land (Xa) and the God of Cereals (Tac) with the desire for an abundant harvest and prosperities. From the early Nguyen Dynasty, Gia Long King ordered the establishment of the Xa Tac esplanade to the west of the royal citadel with clean soil collected from different localities through out the whole country. Fortunately, this esplanade has survived with little damage when compared to other Xa Tac esplanades in Vietnam. The re-enactment of Xa Tac Rituals is not only to revive and conserve a traditional royal ceremonial but also to honor domestic agriculture and traditional culture. Hue Monument Conservation Centre is rapidly implementing an archeological survey project of the Xa Tac historical area, and simultaneously coordinating with the Vietnam Institute for Building Science and Technology (IBST) to design an embellishment project for this historical monument. The program for the Xa Tac Rituals has been completed. There will be a royal procession (of about 300 people participating with sufficient pomp and ceremonials, flags and fans) departing from Ngo Mon Gate and proceeding to Xa Tac Esplanade. The ceremonial of Xa Tac Offering Ritual will be re-enacted as authentically as the ancient ceremony.
The Examination of Military Doctors: This festival is to honor the martial tradition of Vietnamese people and simultaneously create a novel and unique tourism product. At the Hue Capital, under Nguyen Dynasty, Minh Mang King had a Temple of Military built (located next to the Temple of Literature) to honor martial arts and persons who have served the country well. The Court organized three examinations of Military Doctors, selecting 12 Doctors and 22 Junior Doctors. Names of these Military Doctors were carved on the stone steles, which were placed at the Temple of Military’s yard. In ancient times, the Examination of Military Doctors lasted for months with different sections taking place; therefore, the re-performance of these examinations in the form of a festivity can only be in a simplified scenario. According to the scenario, the examination of Military Doctors will take place at Phu Van Lau Square – Nghenh Luong Dinh. It is a lovely spot located near Highway 1A and the Huong River. The content of the festivity is the combination of Military Doctors’ final examination and the performance of Vietnamese special traditional martial arts. The Organization Committee of Festival Hue has received a positive response from traditional martial arts centers in that locality and from the Vietnamese Martial Arts Union. Hue Monuments Conservation Centre, the unit in charge of this festivity, has completed the written scenario and has actively prepared human and material resources for the purpose of arrangement and practice.
Different from the above-mentioned traditional festivities, Discovering the Perfume River’s Legends is a completely novel product for tourism activities and public performance in this festival. The beautiful Huong River flowing through Hue is naturally associated with numerous attractive legends. Organizing a tour from the riverhead to the lower section to explore these legends and admire the wonderful beauty of the river from sunset to midnight is a truly remarkable idea. In addition, tourists will enjoy a royal feast aboard boats, and join in a music performance at Phu Van Lau Wharf before the tour ends. The Festival Organization Committee has assigned Hue Monuments Conservation Centre to take charge of this program. For the preparatory tasks of this event, the Centre had a Royal Boat made of wood and designed in the Te Thong boat style of the Nguyen Dynasty’s emperors. It is 6.5m in width and 27m in length with a maximum capacity of 100 people. According to the tentative scenario, the mentioned royal boat will be in the center of a tourist boat group that will travel from the Bang Lang confluence (near the wharf to Minh Mang king’s tomb) to Phu Van Lau. The stage for performance activities will be set up on this historical river wharf.
And the festivities renewed in contents
Together with the above-mentioned new festivities, the traditional festivities from previous Festivals have had their content updated and expanded to enhance their attraction.
The Nam Giao Rituals will focus on prayer rituals at the esplanade. According to the scenario, a royal procession will depart from Trai Cung (to the Northwest of the esplanade) make its way to the main esplanade. The ceremony will be held solemnly, monumentally, and precisely as it was under the Nguyen Dynasty. Nam Giao Rituals surely will be attractive because the music and dance performances are being meticulously prepared. In particular, Hue Monument Conservation Centre, the unit in charge of the festival, has coordinated with Mr.Trinh Bach, a researcher, to restore 128 sets of costumes for dancers performing Bat Dat Van (Bat Dat Literary Dance) and Bat Dat Vo (Bat Dat Martial Dance) at the ceremony.
The Royal Night Performance was a festivity successfully held in Festival 2006. It was a re-enactment of the colorful royal life when night covered everything. After Festival 2006, Hue Monument Conservation Centre turned Royal Night into a special tourism product by performing this festivity sixth times per month. At the end of 2007, together with Hue Royal Music, Royal Night was awarded the Golden Cup of Vietnamese Trademarks Integrating WTO. This time, Royal Night performance was re-activated on March 29 and performed regularly four times per month. Royal Night will be improved step by step becoming extremely fascinating and monumental. It will be performed on the 3rd, 6th and 9th of June in Festival with the artistic guidance of Director Le Quy Duong.
The Grand Fashion Show of Ao dai, which had it origin in Hue, has been a specific part of the Festival Hue during the previous four festivals. This time, Ao dai Grand Show will be held in front of Hien Nhon gate. This two-story gate, decorated with beautiful porcelain pieces, will be the background of Vietnamese Ao dai.
The Hue Festival 2008, with an abundance of festivities, novel in form and content, together with many other cultural activities and community festivities, will definitely be an desirable destination for tourists from all parts of the world.
Hue Ancient Capital is awaiting you!