Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour lights up with largest and most expensive fireworks display in 20 years
Police estimate crowd of 263,000 came to view 23-minute extravaganza costing HK$12 million
Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour was on Saturday lit up by the largest and most expensive fireworks display since 1997 – when the former British colony was returned to Chinese sovereignty – to mark the 20th anniversary of the handover and the inauguration of the city’s fourth chief executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor.
A total of 39,888 pyrotechnic shells were blasted into the sky from five barges during the 23-minute extravaganza, costing HK$12 million (US$1.5 million).
The highlight of the show was the “super fireworks wall” at 1,250 metres long and 300 metres tall that could be seen from both sides of the harbour.
Police estimated 263,000 people were in attendance, with 236,000 lining the Kowloon waterfront and 27,000 on the island side. At 7.20pm, the Hong Kong Observatory issued a thunderstorm, and a downpour began just as the display started.
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There had earlier been controversy over the decision to use of simplified Chinese characters for the words “China” at the beginning of the show, rather than traditional characters used in Hong Kong.
The Million Production and Promotion Company, which oversees part of the display arrangements, cited technical reasons to opt for the simplified character of the word “guo”, and pointed out the same character had been used for the 15th anniversary in 2012.
Nelson Liao Chi-kwan, a 63-year-old retiree, and his wife and granddaughter had lunch and dinner at a cafe in Wan Chai’s Great Eagle Centre.
“We are very early, but this way, we will be able to sit and watch the fireworks tonight. I want my granddaughter to witness this momentous occasion and remember it when she grows up. I don’t have strong feelings about all the politics, but this is a once-in-a-lifetime event for everyone.”
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Seline Chan Mei-chiu, 25, a graduate student at the University of Hong Kong, has been sitting at the Wan Chai Ferry Pier since 12.30pm.
“My friends and I want to see the fireworks not just stand in a sweaty pool of bodies and see smoke. You see, there are already hundreds of people around me, if I had come any later I’d have to stand for the show.”