Intensive preparations, including the decorating of hundreds of trees with lights, have been made by HCM City to greet Tet (Lunar New Year) from January 22-25.

Trees lining the streets of Le Loi, Dong Khoi and Le Duan in the city centre sparkle at night with thousands of lights. The lights will be on every night until February 3.

From Jan. 20 to Jan. 26, Nguyen Hue Street, the so-called flower street, will be closed to traffic.

The street will be decorated with special flowers and trees selected from many regions in the country, including Hanoi peach blossom branches, Sa Dec's daisies and kumquat trees, HCM City's ochna flower trees and Da Lat roses.

A 15-minute fireworks display will be set off on the eve of Tet at six spots in the city, including District 2's Thu Thiem Ward and District 11's Dam Sen Park.

Next week, special musical programmes to herald the arrival of the new year will take place throughout HCM City, with the major event at September 23 Park in District 1.

On Tet Eve, outdoor concerts will be organised on Le Duan Street in downtown and at all districts in the city.

The annual Spring Flower Festival is being held in District 1's Tao Dan Park till Jan. 28 y, the sixth day of the lunar new year, the Year of the Dragon.

The festival features more than 7,000 bonsai and orchids, and a large number of pets.

Week-long flower markets have been held since Jan. 15 at 59 sites in the city, with the three biggest organised at District 1's September 23 Park, District 3's Le Van Tam Park and Tan Binh District's Gia Dinh Park. The markets will close on Jan. 22, the last day of the Year of the Cat.

Thousands of pots of fresh flowers have arrived from Da Lat and the Mekong Delta province of Dong Thap to meet customer demand for home decoration.

Imports such as mainland Chinese peach flowers, orchids from Taiwan, Australia and New Zealand have added new colours to the local flower markets.

This year, for the first time, the city opens a flower market along the Tau Hu Canal in District 8. Sellers transport flowers by boats to the market, and many sell flowers to customers from their boats.

Competitions for banh tet, or cylinder glutinous rice cake-making, have been organised in the city's 24 districts with the participation of hundreds of young people. The cakes will then be presented to the poor as a Tet gift./.