Positioning Hanoi as the Creative Hub in the Region

The Hanoi Creative Design Festival 2023 has sparked an innovative spirit and shared it with both creatives and the community, playing a vital role in establishing Hanoi as a recognized Creative City.


Hanoi’s exciting annual creative and cultural event has concluded after 12 vibrant days at the Gia Lam Train Factory and newly developed heritage sites.

Utilizing heritage resources for innovation

The Hanoi Creative Design Festival 2023 takes place from November 17 to 28. Photo: Huy Pham/The Hanoi Times

With the theme “Flow”, the festival embodies Hanoi City’s strategy of utilizing cultural resources for the sustainable socio-economic development of the capital. All of its events and activities manifest the cultural essence of the capital from a creative perspective. The awakening of Gia Lam Railway Factory, Hang Dau Water Tower, and Long Bien Bridge, all industrial and urban heritage sites, after a long period of neglect, gives them a fresh and artistic appearance, leaving the public in awe.

Artist Trinh Minh Tien’s exhibition titled Water Palace at Gia Lam Train Factory.

Nguyen Duc Phuong, an artist and designer responsible for the water and light arrangement inside the Hang Dau Water Tower, expressed his thoughts on the project: “Through this project, I hope to raise public awareness about heritage preservation. Although times change, heritage still holds its core values. I also hope that young people will develop a different perspective and approach towards art, gradually creating value for the community. More art spaces should be developed from such heritage sites.”

The art activities and public performances at the Gia Lam Train Factory successfully blend tradition and modernity. The art and craft fair serves as a gathering place for young people who are pursuing creative careers, showcasing their unique identities. Additionally, creative groups, creative spaces, and artisans from traditional craft villages also participated in the fair.

The festival provided an open space that stimulated creativity in everyone. Notably, the Heritage Journey train, which connects the two banks of the Red River, became a highlight of the festival, attracting a large number of locals and tourists seeking an extraordinary experience.

Inspiring a creative spirit

A Tuong performance on Nov 17 kicks off the Hanoi Creative Design Festival 2023.

Over the course of 12 days, the Hanoi Creative Design Festival 2023 left a lasting impact on the community, inspiring organizations and individuals from various walks of life with its creative spirit. Crowds of Hanoians, as well as domestic and international tourists, were captivated by the originality and novelty of the event’s organization, activities, and venues, despite the distance from the city center.

According to the organizing board, the festival welcomed 200,000 visitors to the Gia Lam Train Factory and 30,000 visitors to the Hang Dau Water Tower. Additionally, it received contributions from 2,000 content creators and garnered four million comments on social media. Furthermore, 26,000 Heritage Journey train tickets were sold during the festival’s 12-day run, although the number fell short of tourist demand.

The graffiti artworks on display at the Gia Lam Train Factory.

In addition to the Heritage Journey, other activities included hands-on art courses for underprivileged children titled “Exploring the Flow” and a gong performance named “Improvising the Great Forest”.

All in all, the festival effectively spread a creative spirit throughout the city’s districts and craft villages, hosting more than 40 cultural, artistic, creative, and innovative events with their active participation.

Establishing the Creative City brand

Young attendees of the Hanoi Creative Design Festival 2023.

The festival serves as one of Hanoi’s initiatives to fulfill its commitment to joining the UNESCO Creative Cities Network, affirming its leading position at the national level and aligning with the global trend of the creative economy. Moreover, the festival reflects Hanoi’s policy of utilizing cultural resources and supporting the development of cultural industries.

Notably, organizing the festival at the Gia Lam Train Factory paves the way for transforming vacant industrial facilities into creative spaces. As the policy of relocating production facilities out of the inner city has left behind industrial heritage sites with great potential, these spaces are now ready to be revitalized.

According to Do Dinh Hong, Director of Hanoi’s Department of Culture and Sports, the city aims to make the Hanoi Creative Design Festival an annual event on a Southeast Asian and international scale, serving as a highlight of the year to attract designers, businesses, domestic and foreign tourists.

This year’s edition of the festival is the largest to date, featuring 64 cultural and creative activities, including four architectural pavilions, 18 exhibitions and displays, 15 workshops and seminars (including five international workshops), nine art activities, and 18 public creative activities. The festival took place at the Gia Lam Train Factory, Hang Dau Water Tower, Long Bien Railway Station, and Gia Lam Railway Station, which served as the main venues for the event. More than 200 units, creators, and artists from various fields of creative design participated in these activities. The festival attracted a wide range of visitors, exceeding 200,000 attendees, and contributed to the cultural scene with its diverse and engaging program.
“Awaken Heritage” fashion show at Gia Lam Train Factory.
The light and water installation inside the Hang Dau Water Tower as part of the Hanoi Creative Design Festival 2023.