Mr. Quang Nam of Thai Nguyen province has attended the festival for 8 times. He said he's a big fan of Quan Ho. "I’m not from Bac Ninh, but very fond of Quan Ho and very passionate about it, completely attached to it," said Quang.
Many artists hold private sessions at their home where they gather and sing Quan Ho in the original style, which features no instrumental accompaniment. Instruments are added only for performances before a general audience.
Regardless of the performing style, Quan Ho is an important cultural feature that the younger generation should try to preserve.
As part of that effort, Ngoc Luong and her colleagues at the province’s cultural center want to hold at least one class a year for people of all ages in each district. Luong said: "Young people are now gravitating toward foreign music and paying little attention to Vietnamese folk songs like Quan Ho. I hope the young people of the province and throughout the country will start paying more attention to Quan Ho. I work at the provincial cultural center, which is responsible for organizing Quan Ho classes for people from all walks of life."
Next to the songs of the Quan Ho singers, the most exciting part of the festival is the folk games. Among the most popular folk games at the festival is ‘bamboo swing’, in which two players stand on a swing and pump their legs to swing themselves up as high as possible.
Another folk game popular with festival-goers is "hitting hanging clay pots." A blindfolded player standing 5 meters from the pots tries to locate the pots and break one of them. A player can get help from the audience and whoever breaks a pot wins the reward named on a piece of paper hidden in the pot. The balloon dart game is also another popular game at the festival.
Meanwhile, an intense game of human chess is held next to the communal house. Anyone can give any of the other folk games a try, but the chess game is performed by the locals wearing costumes. There are 32 chess figures (16 boys and 16 girls) who are controlled by two chess players who were chosen by a series of knock-out matches the day before.
Mr. Luan, a local chess aficionado, told VOV: "Modern chess originated in medieval times when kings played the game for entertainment and intellectual competition. The game is subject to the local rules for human chess. For example, a player must make their move within 5 minutes and a drum is sounded after each move. One side consists of males dressed in red and the other is females dressed in green."
A game of human chess that you may not want to miss out on!
(Photo: Phuong Thao)
In the evening, many local households invite their friends and relatives for a meal to celebrate the festival and welcome the new year. A show of fireworks brings joy to both locals and visitors.
“My first impression of the Lim Festival is that the fireworks performance is kind of good. There are many people here. We can see that people care about the festival. That’s a good point in spreading the culture of the province to other people,” said a foreign visitor.
“I think this year’s festival is wonderful. The crowd is jubilant, and also a brilliant fireworks display. Visitors from all over the country flock to the festival and join with positive attitudes towards the surroundings. It would be more than wonderful to maintain this tradition,” said a festival-goer.
The festival's activities also attract local people. "After the hiatus, I got the chance to attend the festival on the 12th. The atmosphere was very different from a few years ago. A very festive atmosphere with so many people, especially during the fireworks display,” said a local visitor.
The festival showcases the province’s culture, and brings together people with different cultural backgrounds. The enduring existence of this festival is a testament to the effort of previous generations to preserve Vietnamese culture, and the younger generation should continue that effort.
Lim Festival – Bac Ninh’s time-tested cultural spotlight
(Photo: Phuong Thao)