Hoa Lu Festival, the largest and most spectacular in the northern province of Ninh Binh, openned on April 8.

Among the highlights of the festival will be a water-carrying procession from the Hoang Long River to the King Dinh and King Le temples, a requiem, displays of coloured lanterns and flower garlands, a calligraphy competition and sporting activities.

Organisers also plan to release 1,043 balloons (symbolising 1,043 years since King Dinh Tien Hoang came to the throne).

For the first time, a temple gate-opening ceremony was held on April 7 during which gods and goddesses were asked permission to open the festival.

Hoa Lu was the first capital of Vietnam (968 to 1010). The festival serves to honour the achievements of the Ly (544-602), Le (980-1009) and Dinh (968-1010) dynasties.

The festival ends on April 12./.