On the weekend of 12 – 13 September 2015, a free festival will see Potters Fields Park on London’s South Bank transformed into a vibrant celebration of Vietnamese culture, cuisine and crafts. Organised by the Embassy of Viet Nam and sponsored by national carrier Vietnam Airlines, Quang Ninh Province and Thien Minh Group, theViet Nam Discovery Festival will showcase the beauty, warmth and charm of this dynamic country. After a dazzling opening ceremony featuring dance performances, traditional and contemporary music and an Áo dài fashion show, visitors can immerse themselves in the sights, sounds and tastes of Vietnamese culture – from taking a ‘virtual’ tour of the country in a 3D Cube Space to watching a traditional water puppet theatre show.
The festival will open with music and dance performances, including a rare opportunity to hear some of Vietnam’s most celebrated musicians playing unique and unusual traditional instruments, from đàn nhị (a bowed string instrument) and đàn tranh (similar to a zither) to bamboo instruments including flutes, k’lông pút (the bamboo xylophone of the Bahnar people), and đinh pá (a resonant pipe).
A selection of pop-up food stalls will offer delicious dishes such as phở bò (beef noodles) and bánh mỳ kẹp thịt (Vietnamese sandwiches), with renowned Vietnamese chefs on hand to share recipes and cooking tips.
Exhibitions of fine traditional lacquer and oil painting by famous Vietnamese artists will be complimented by arts and crafts stalls where visitors can buy souvenirs like Vietnamese brocades, traditional painted bamboo theatre masks and handmade conical hats; have a go at sand painting or printing Ðông Hồ folk woodcuts; or try on Vietnamese national costume and pose for colourful selfies. Kids will love hand-painting their own balancing bamboo dragonflies, while dance fans can even try their hand at Vietnam’s answer to Morris dancing – nhảy sạp, a traditional Vietnamese folk dance using bamboo sticks!
The Viet Nam Discovery festival is part of a series of political, economic and cultural activities arranged by the Embassy of Vietnam to mark the five year anniversary of the Strategic Partnership between Viet Nam and the UK. Prior to the festival itself, these will include the Viet Nam Economic Forum on 10 September and the Viet Nam – UK Education Cooperation Forum on 11 September, both of which will be held at the prestigious Central Hall Westminster in London.
National flag carrier, Vietnam Airlines offers the UK’s only nonstop flights to Vietnam, with five per week from Heathrow to Hanoi or Saigon – rising to daily following the introduction of B787-9 Dreamliners this September. Featuring in-flight WiFi, fully flat beds in Business Class and new branding, the new aircraft will firmly establish Vietnam Airlines as the leading carrier for the Indochina region. Located in the north east of Vietnam, Quang Ninh Province is renowned for its stunning natural landscapes, including the towering limestone islands of the UNESCO World Heritage site Ha Long Bay, and the mountainous Cát Bà National Park. Thien Minh Group is one of South East Asia’s leading integrated travel and hospitality groups, bringing approximately 90,000 tourists to the region each year.