Laser beams lit up the night sky and a full moon shone down on Beijing’s once Forbidden City on Tuesday as the Palace Museum welcomed guests for a night tour for the first time in almost a century. About 3,000 visitors, mostly foreign envoys, “model workers”, government employees and journalists, were treated to an evening of Peking Opera, including performances of Monkey King and The Drunken Concubine at the Changyinge Pavilion, where United States President Donald Trump enjoyed a similar show in 2017. Built more than 500 years ago, the Forbidden City was home to China’s imperial families until 1924 when the last Qing dynasty (1644-1911) ruler Pu Yi moved out. A year later it was transformed into the Palace Museum and opened to the public. While most of the buildings inside the complex were off-limits, most of the visitors were full of praise for the event. “The experience is so unique and the sights were astounding,” said Jun Chen, who dressed in a dark green cotton overcoat in the Qing dynasty style for the occasion. China’s Forbidden City first night opening in 94 years crashes website “I was very impressed by how the imperial families celebrated the new year,” said Chang Zhifu, 77. “The Palace Museum is one of a kind and the light show made it even more special. I feel so proud.” On social media people were not so impressed. “The light show looked like a Qing dynasty-themed disco. Come alive ancestors and let’s groove,” a person wrote on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like platform. “The show is ugly because it has no theme,” wrote another “There is no sense of the Lunar New Year … It doesn’t tell a story and could have been used for any occasion.” People at the scene were treated to a laser show at the Meridian Gate, before entering the complex where they could see the Gate of the Supreme Harmony illuminated by festive and auspicious lighting patterns. There was also an exhibition of about 800 relics and digital restorations inside the Yanchi Tower showing how the imperial court celebrated the Lunar New Year hundreds of years ago. Chinese tourist stirs anger after child urinates on floor at Forbidden City in Beijing Another highlight was when digital representations of two Song dynasty (960-1279) works of art – A Thousand Miles of Rivers and Mountains by Wang Ximeng and the Along the River During the Qingming Festival by Zhang Zeduan – were projected onto the compound’s walls. Visitors also took photographs of the red lanterns and lights that decorated the complex, before leaving through the Gate of Divine Prowess. “The mix of an ancient historic site and new lighting techniques was a fresh experience for me,” said Liu Wenshan, 64, a volunteer traffic crossing guide, who attended the event. “I am delighted and proud to be here. Of the 9,000 volunteers who work at bus stops, subway stations and road crossings, I am one of only six who was invited. It’s a great honour for me,” he said. Is China’s New Year’s Gala as old as the Qing dynasty? The museum complex was opened for a second night on Wednesday, with 3,000 tickets available to the public. Demand was so high, the reservations website crashed under the pressure. Shan Jixiang, the curator of the Palace Museum, said visitor numbers were limited for safety reasons. “Some people asked why we only let in 3,000 when the museum is so large,” he said. “But we had reservations about allowing visitors inside the museum at night and we were not sure how many the walls could cope with.” He said there might be more night visits in the future. “This is only a pilot. We might have more night openings in future holidays, such as the Dragon Boat Festival, the Mid-Autumn Festival and Chongyang Festival,” he said.