Will Hanoi be the next music capital of Asia? – CNN.com

(CNN) — On the shores of Dong Mo Lake, about 40 kilometers east of Hanoi, sequined dancers twirl with ribbons, while guitarists perform intimate concerts on rafts.

There’s camping, yoga and swimming — not to mention 40 hours of non-stop live music.

It might sound like Glastonbury but this, in fact, is Quest, a lifestyle festival now in its fifth year.

It’s not alone. Hanoi, which has long been the country’s creative heart, is challenging regional powerhouses such as Tokyo, Singapore and Seoul for the festival capital of Asia title.

“Hanoi absolutely has potential to become a music hub in Asia — there’s a strong cultural underpinning to work with,” Jeremy Wellard, co-founder of Quest, tells CNN.

“As Vietnam’s economy keeps growing, and as social structures change, we are going to see the country become a player in the arts and culture scene.”

A new beat

Hanoi’s 7.5 million inhabitants famously buzz around in an impenetrable, deafening sea of motorbikes.

Despite this, the city retains a quaint, historic feel with its low-rise colonial architecture and leafy promenades.

It was this romantic vibe that inspired Wellard to relocate to Hanoi from Australia, where he’d helped organize music events such as Brisbane’s hip-hop festival Stylin’Up and the G20 Cultural Celebrations, a citywide arts and culture festival.

In 2011, Wellard and a few friends spent a weekend at Son Tinh Camp, at Dong Mo.

A freshwater lake, forests, tents for rent … they quickly saw its potential.

“We wanted to bring that festival atmosphere to Hanoi, at a place that felt like an escape, without the city bearing down on us,” he says.

In 2013, Quest launched as a “really DIY project,” with roughly 250 festival-goers. This year, it’ll be 20 times that size, with five stages and about 5,000 guests between November 10 and 12.

English pioneers of ambient house The Orb are on the line-up, alongside gypsy-electro-nu-rave act Slamboree Sound System, Hanoi’s own house and techno artist DJ Tùng Tím…

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