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People who have booked hotels in Hanoi during July and want to get under the skin of Vietnamese culture should consider heading north of the capital for the Duc Bac Festival.

Held on the 11th and 12th days of the sixth lunar month - or July 22nd and 23rd in the western calendar - this event promises to demonstrate some traditional Vietnamese celebrations.

The dates in July mark the second part of this ritual, with the initial festivities taking place approximately four months earlier.

According to Vietnamtourism.com, the activities that visitors can expect to witness are the Cau Dinh ceremony where families pray for the birth of a son, a boat race and Xoan singing.

The boat race sees competitors rowing from the Duc Bac commune to Phuong Lau on the other side of the river where they have to collect a basket of rice or sheaf of rice seeds before returning to their village.

Anyone who makes the journey for the festival will also be treated to Xoan singing, a form of folk music that developed in the Phu Tho province.

Vietnam-culture.com explains that there are just four villages in the country that still perform Xoan singing and that each has its own distinctive style.

The compositions of the pieces in Xoan music are handed down from generation to generation and are constantly adapted by those who perform the art.

Posted by Delia Jones

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