Where to celebrate Mid-Autumn Festival like a local in Hanoi and Saigon

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There are only two days to go for the Mid-Autumn Festival. Have you made plans for the full moon night yet?

For Vietnamese, the Mid-Autumn Festival, which falls on September 13 this year, is the second most important festival after the Lunar New Year.

It is celebrated in East and Southeast Asia countries like China, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Malaysia, the Philippines and Vietnam.

The festival is an occasion for a children’s night out and family reunions. Children enjoy art performances like singing, plays and lion dances, light up the night with colorful lanterns and enjoy mooncakes.

While the Chinese perform the dragon dance during this festival, the Vietnamese have their unique unicorn dance and lion dance, which symbolize luck, wealth and prosperity.

Hanoi

Thang Long Imperial Citadel

“Festive Drums of Autumn Moon” featuring images of drums of all shapes, sizes and colors arranged and displayed to remind visitors of the festive ambiance of the Vietnamese countryside will be held until Friday at the citadel to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival.

Children can try their hand at making mooncakes, papier mâché masks, kites, statuettes and sketches, matching pictures, and kneading dough figurines. They can also play various games.

The Old Quarter

Authorities have banned vehicles from certain streets in Hanoi’s Old Quarter until September 13 for the festival celebrations.

They are not allowed to enter Hang Luoc, Hang Ruoi and Hang Chai streets and sections of Hang Ma and Hang Khoai streets from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Hang Ma Street is busy during the Mid-Autumn Festival. Photo acquired by VnExpress.

Hang Ma Street is busy during the Mid-Autumn Festival. Photo acquired by VnExpress.

At the Kim Ngan Temple in Hang Bac Street, artisans will make and teach audiences how to make traditional toys including star lanterns, paper kites and terracotta figurines from September 6 to 13.

The Hanoi Ancient House at 87 Ma May Street will exhibit a photo collection of the Mid-Autumn festival of old Hanoi in the 20th century.

At the Cultural Exchange Center at 50 Dao Duy Tu Street, visitors will be taught traditional crafts like mask and bamboo light drawing, postcard making and painting on paper made from the bark of trees.

Lanterns illuminate along Phung Hung Street in downtown Hanoi. Photo by VnExpress/ Duc Nguyen.

Lanterns illuminate Phung Hung Street in downtown Hanoi. Photo by VnExpress/ Duc Nguyen.

The Phung Hung fresco street has been attracting youths who come to take selfies among the hundreds of illuminated lanterns lined up there, which turn it into a miniature version of Shifen old town in Taiwan.

On the evening of September 13 the pedestrians-only zone around Hoan Kiem Lake will see several traditional and contemporary activities to celebrate the festival.

Saigon

Phu Binh lantern-making village

This is one of the few villages in the city that still make glass paper lanterns for the Mid-Autumn Festival.

Situated in a small alley off Lac Long Quan Street in District 11, the lantern-making village was formed in the mid-1950s when artisans from the renowned craft village of Bac Co in Nam Dinh Province migrated to Saigon and brought their lantern-making skills. It has survived for more than half a century.

A woman living inside a small alley off Lac Long Quan Street in District 11 prepares for paper lanterns to sell to customers. Photo by VnExpress/Thanh Nguyen.

A woman living inside a small alley off Lac Long Quan Street in District 11 prepares for paper lanterns to sell to customers. Photo by VnExpress/Thanh Nguyen.

When the festival nears, dozens of families in this village are busy completing the last orders from the market.

Take a stroll around and see the red of the paper lanterns filling up the place and the bustling atmosphere as family members gather at a corner in front of their houses, decorating lanterns in various shapes and colors.

The lantern corner in Chinatown

Stretching along Luong Nhu Hoc and Nguyen An streets, this is the largest lantern market in Ho Chi Minh City during the Mid-Autumn festival, with almost every house and sidewalk turning into lantern shops.

The market, which was established in the 1960s, is well known for its artisans who make traditional lanterns from scarlet glass paper, considered as a special cultural trait of the Chinese community.

A man inspects lantern products on Luong Nhu Hoc Street, known as the busiest lantern market in HCMC in the lead up to the Mid-Autumn Festival. Photo acquired by VnExpress.

Residents shop for lanterns on Luong Nhu Hoc Street, known as the busiest lantern market in HCMC, in the lead up to the Mid-Autumn Festival. Photo acquired by VnExpress.

Take a walk alongside a bewildering range of lanterns in various sizes, shapes and colors, and treat yourself to specialty foods made by the local Chinese.

Nguyen Hue pedestrian street

There will be a lantern parade and art performances on this busy street, and it will be very crowded.

Nguyen Hue, which runs up to the Saigon River, has been receiving thousands of visitors every day since its center strip became a pedestrians-only zone in 2015. It gets particularly crowded during weekends and holidays.

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