As if Hanoi traffic isn’t already something to talk about, people from around the world are gathering here to join in a spectacular 10-day celebration of Hanoi’s 1000th birthday. With the major roads in the centre of the city closed, Hanoi’s Hoan Kiem Lake has been transformed into a pedestrian-friendly street party, with artistic displays, stages, concerts and festivities throughout the city.
It was in the year 1010 that the Vietnamese Emperor Lý Thái Tổ moved the capital from Hoa Lu (in Ninh Bình province) to Hanoi, known at the time as Thanh Long, meaning ‘Flying Dragon’. Now, 1000 years later, Hanoi is still the administrative heart of Vietnam and also one of the oldest capitals in all of Asia.
And yesterday, the city was literally abuzz as thousands of locals and travellers joined together to kick off the first night of revelry with an impressive fireworks display and laser light show over Hoan Kiem Lake. “There was so much spirit and excitement in the air! People were taking millions of pictures to capture the moment,” said Hanoi expatriate Julia Plevin.
Among the other opening-ceremony events was a fashion show on the famous Red Bridge featuring different regional variations of ao dai, a form of traditional Vietnamese dress, as worn by models and Miss World Viet Nam 2007, Ngo Phuong Lan.
Symbolic of the five gates of the ancient citadel were five stages set up around the lake displaying different historical times from Hanoi’s history, including the French occupation, revolutionary wars and contemporary Hanoi. One street looked as if it had been transported from an ancient era, complete with calligraphy painters, old bicycles and cyclo drivers.
For the next 10 days, there will be over over 200 shows by domestic and international artists throughout the city. Some program highlights include a food festival, photo exhibitions, marathon, kite festival and cultural workshops. The official anniversary is on October 10th, which will be marked by a grand parade in Ba Dinh square followed by a cultural night festival.
If you’re anywhere in Southeast Asia, now is the time to visit Hanoi and be part of a joyous commemoration of 1000 years of Hanoi’s unique culture and tradition.
While you’re in Hanoi, why not try something else a little different: book a local experiential day tour with Urban Adventures, including Hanoi highlights and trips to Halong Bay, nearby traditional villages and the area’s spectacular citadels and karst landscape.