Hanoi, a Symphony of Sounds in the Making

The proliferation of music events paints a vibrant new canvas for Hanoi, transforming it into a musical metropolis.

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Hanoi: City of Musical Events

Musical Frenzy

The love of music among Hanoi’s people, the preservation of traditional genres alongside the embrace of modern ones, and the growth of music venues in the capital are paving the way towards establishing Hanoi as “the city of musical events“.

Musical Abundance

 The vibrant atmosphere of the Sol 8 Live Stage. Photo: Hoang Nam 

Strolling through the Hoan Kiem Lake area on weekends, the musical passion of Hanoians is evident. Streets once bustling with vehicles and honking horns are transformed into stages for young people expressing themselves through lively dance flash mobs, engaging onlookers with their infectious energy. On the sidewalk across from the Hanoi Post Office, a group of elderly performers share their love of old Hanoi through heartfelt renditions of romantic melodies played on their violins.

A few hundred yards away, a street flutist captivates listeners with gentle yet profound melodies. On another part of the sidewalk, a young man with only a guitar and a raw singing voice commands the attention of a captive audience. As night falls, the area becomes even more vibrant with the performances of street musicians. Notable venues such as the octagonal pavilion in Ly Thai To Flower Garden, Nam Huong Communal House, and King Le Thai To Statue have become popular meeting points for enthusiasts of traditional music genres like Chau van, Xam, or Cheo.

 A traditional Vietnamese art performance on the pedestrian street of Hoan Kiem Lake in Hanoi. Photo: Cong Hung

Beyond these street stages, music lovers in Hanoi have a wealth of options to indulge their passion. The Hanoi Opera House serves as a “music sanctuary” with its recently opened Music Garden. The Vietnam National Academy of Music is a popular destination for symphony enthusiasts, while the Friendship Labor Cultural Palace hosts lyrical music nights. The Vietnam National Convention Center attracts large audiences with its lively concerts.

Enhancing the diversity of Hanoi’s modern music scene are countless cozy music hangouts, each with its unique ambiance and vibe. Some long-standing establishments include Trinh Ca Tea Room, a haven for fans of Trinh Cong Son’s music, Trixie Cafe & Lounge, Sweet Home Lounge, and Sol 8 Live Stage. These places offer respite from the stresses of life, allowing tea and coffee lovers to immerse themselves in blissful relaxation. They may even find themselves connecting with like-minded individuals or perhaps even a soulmate.

 The Xam folk singing performance at the Hong Ha Theater in Hanoi. Photo: VNA

According to Nguyen Phuong Hoa, Director General of the Department of International Cooperation under the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, public art in Hanoi is flourishing and diverse in terms of type, scale, and space, rivaling any city in the world. Particularly in the field of music, alongside traditional genres, numerous modern music festivals showcase a vibrant array of street art activities.

Building Hanoi’s Musical Brand

Globally, several cities have successfully established their brands through music. Los Angeles, Havana, Berlin, and Manchester are renowned as places where music is an integral part of life, attracting visitors eager to experience their electrifying atmosphere. In Havana (Cuba), for instance, music permeates every corner, from open apartment windows to bustling street corners, with drivers and waitresses often bursting into song. Vienna (Austria), known as the “Music Capital of the World” and the cradle of European classical music, boasts an impressive array of approximately 300 theaters and concert halls, creating an immersive musical experience for tourists.

Young Hanoi audience at the Monsoon Music Festival 2023. Photo courtesy of the event organizers

With passion and creativity, the people of Hanoi are steadily transforming the capital into a musical city. Today’s Hanoi is a destination for world-renowned bands and artists. High-profile international music events are held annually, such as the Monsoon Music Festival, Vietnam Connection Music Festival, European Music Festival, or Touch The Music Festival, featuring bands like Scorpions (Germany), Kodaline (Ireland), Bond (UK), ADOY and Hyukoh (both South Korea), singer Joss Stone (England), and DJ Los Frequencies (Belgium). The HAY Glamping Music Festival brought legendary boy bands such as The Moffatts, A1, 911, and Blue to Vietnam, followed by former Boyzone singer Ronan Keatinga and South Korean hip-hop icon Epik High.

In particular, the Monsoon Music Festival has become a cultural icon of the capital. In 2017, the organizing committee proposed the festival be designated as an official annual event of Hanoi City for five years. Their aim is to establish it as a prominent cultural event in Vietnam and Southeast Asia.

 Monsoon Music Festival 2023.

Presently, the Monsoon Music Festival has gained global recognition and is an official member of MusiConnect Asia, which fosters musical and artistic exchange among major music festivals throughout Asia.

Blackpink’s groundbreaking concert in Hanoi last year demonstrated the growing status of the capital and the country as highly sought-after destinations for international stars.  From a tourism perspective, Vu Quynh Anh, CEO of Hoang Minh Travel, highlighted the role of the record-breaking K-pop girl group’s performance in positioning Hanoi as a vibrant and culturally rich destination for music enthusiasts.

Music has long been a passion for Hanoi’s people, serving as a powerful bond that unites generations. With its diverse music spaces and activities attracting an increasing number of visitors, Hanoi is poised to join the prestigious UNESCO Cities of Music in the future.