Something Special: Hong Kong's Symphony Of Lights

John O'Ceallaigh, The Daily Telegraph, August 06, 2013

Every night at 8pm, Hong Kong’s skyline blazes into life. It’s at that time that A Symphony of Lights begins and a burst of music initiates a spectacular light display that sees 45 of the city’s most distinctive skyscrapers illuminated in time to a rousing soundtrack transmitted over the harbour.

As though part of a 21st-century Fantasia, the buildings dance in time to five distinct musical sequences. The first, ‘Awakening’ is meant to symbolise the genesis and growth of Hong Kong; it’s followed by ‘Energy’, which signifies the dynamism of the city and is represented by a display of rising colour patterns across the buildings and the deployment of lasers and searchlights against the sky; thereafter follows ‘Heritage’, which sees the light display turn to the traditionally lucky colours of red and gold as a soundtrack of Chinese musical instruments plays on. For the penultimate sequence ‘Partnership’, powerful beams stretch across both sides of the harbour to connect at its centre; the finale ‘Celebration’ sees technicians go all out to provide a rousing culmination – the light display is intensified and the soundtrack booms. The sequence is meant to represent the even brighter future in store for Hong Kong.

It’s likely that most tourists who admire the performance have no idea of its symbolic significance, but the display is dazzling no matter what. Although both sides of the harbour are illuminated, the best place to watch the spectacle is from the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront between the Avenue of Stars and the Hong Kong cultural Centre (there is no admission charge to the area). From here you can hear broadcast of the soundtrack in English on Monday, Wednesday and Friday; Mandarin on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday; and Cantonese on Sunday.

On my last trip to Hong Kong I watched the display twice, firstly from the waterfront to appreciate the full force of the soundtrack and, then, the evening before my departure from aqua spirit, a 30th-floor cocktail bar looking directly over Hong Kong Island. The soundtrack was inaudible from inside, but the blazing vista provided the perfect backdrop for a memorable last-night drink in Hong Kong.

For more on Hong Kong, see our Hong Kong city break guide . For more on Hong Kong bars with impressive views, see our guide to Hong Kong’s best rooftop bars .

The view of Hong Kong Island from aqua spirit