A ceremony to announce the honour was held in Hanoi on August 2.
The show was recognised for using the largest water stage in Vietnam (4,300 square metres) and the most cast members who are farmers (150 people).
The 60-minute show, run by Tuan Chau Ha Noi JSC, is held every three days at Baara Land, Quoc Oai district, 25km west of Hanoi’s centre.
The Quintessence of Tonkin depicts peaceful landscapes and the unique heritage of the northern region as well as Vietnamese history and culture from a contemporary perspective, portrayed with the help of hundreds of performers, an interactive stage and state-of-the-art technology.
The show highlights various elements of Vietnamese culture, such as folk singing, folk games, the worship of Mother Goddesses and the daily lives of farmers.
The venue is near Thay Pagoda, one of the oldest Buddhist pagodas in the country and a pilgrimage site during the lunar new year festival season.
The spectacle draws inspiration from the pagoda’s history, with its story focusing on the founding of the pagoda by the venerable monk Tu Dao Hanh and the ancient union between religion and monarchy. A visit to Thay Pagoda can be combined with a trip to see The Quintessence of Tonkin, contextualising both experiences.
The show’s stage was built between the auditorium and the small hill where Thay Pagoda rests, so audiences can watch the show with the pagoda as a backdrop.
The stage is permanently submerged under a thin layer of water, and is large enough to accommodate all 250 performers at any one time.
The water allows a creative portrayal of the area’s cultural heritage, using water puppetry and dragon boat racing, among other forms of performance.
The show reflects the peaceful sounds of rural Vietnam, such as those that come from wooden drums, brass gongs, night crickets, and flowing water. The project also blends different elements of traditional music styles, including quan ho (love duets) and ca tru (ceremonial singing), both of which are recognised by UNESCO as examples of intangible world heritage.
In June, the show won the Gold Stevie Award for Innovation in Media, Visual Communications & Entertainment.