The Nam Giao Offering Ritual was one of the most important traditional ceremonies under the Nguyen Dynasty (1802-1945), which honoured the sky and the earth. It focused around the desire for peace, prosperity and favourable weather.
This year's ceremony began at 8pm, with a procession of 34 wooden tablets carried from Trai Cung, the Palace of Fasting Palace, to the Nam Giao Esplanade, with over 1,000 people dressed in traditional royal costumes taking part.
The Nam Giao Esplanade, a three story monument, was built in Duong Xuan village, south of the Hue citadel, in 1806. The top floor was circular to symbolise the sky but the two floors below were square to symbolise the earth and man. The Nguyen Dynasty usually held this ritual in mid-February with the King or the head mandarin acting as the officiating priest.
As part of the 2012 Hue festival, a six-day international trade fair opened the same day with 350 companies from across the country and several from Laos, China, Thailand, the Philippines and Taiwan exhibiting their goods and services.
Also on the day, the National Centre of Traditional Performance Art from the Republic of Korea (RoK) presented a set of Vietnamese Court music instruments to the Hue Centre for the Preservation of Relics.
The instruments, including a magnificent bronze bell and a large musical stone, were restored with financial assistance from the RoK.
Since 2010, both countries have worked together to collect and study various old documents and have supported training for local people to give them the skills to restore Vietnamese Court musical instruments.