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Hong Kong laser show sees first upgrade in 14 years as organisers claim it is energy-efficient

New installations and additional LED boards feature in shorter programme

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 29 November, 2017, 9:14pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 29 November, 2017, 10:55pm

One of Hong Kong’s main tourist attractions, the ‘Symphony of Lights’ laser show, has been refreshed for the first time in 14 years, featuring new installations and additional LED boards that organisers claim will consume less energy than the previous version.

Dubbed the largest permanent light and sound show on the planet by Guinness World Records, the nightly spectacle visible on both sides of Victoria Harbour will be four minutes shorter after the revamp next month.

But a green group described the changes as “nominal” and suggested cutting the nightly show to twice a week to strike a balance between conservation and economic benefit.

Using lights and laser beams installed on skyscrapers and synchronised with music played at certain vantage points, A Symphony of Lights has become a major tourist draw since its inception in 2004.

But the show has gradually lost its charm, with some claiming it had needed a new ‘wow’ factor. After drawing 1.8 million viewers in 2011, attendance fell to 1.45 million in 2015.

Starting on Friday, tourists will be treated to an updated show, which has incorporated nine new buildings and a cruise liner docked at the terminal in Kai Tak.

Hong Kong still has one of the most polluted night skies in the world, and this show adds to the artificial light sources
Edwin Lau, Green Earth

For the first time, LED beam lights are installed on the roof of government headquarters in Tamar and at Revenue Tower in Wan Chai.

However, the show’s creative director, Richard Lindsay, stressed the soul of the show was its soundtrack, which is jointly produced by composer Christian Steinhäuser, conductor Matt Dunkley and the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra.

“We have got something that is very ‘fusion’ that really fits Hong Kong – both a classic show, and also very futuristic,” he said.

While new buildings were added, a number of old participants were removed from the programme. The overall line-up is now 40 – down from 43 – although another seven buildings are slated to be included in the future.

The new show is also “condensed” to 10 minutes, four minutes shorter than before, while LED lights are described as being more energy-efficient than their predecessors.

But Edwin Lau Che-feng, executive director of the environmental group Green Earth, called the changes “nominal” at most.

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“I don’t think it has an actual impact in terms of reducing [the show’s] intensity … Hong Kong still has one of the most polluted night skies in the world, and this show adds to the artificial light sources,” he said.

Lau suggested cutting the show to twice a week.

“That would make the show scarce, so tourists would look forward to it even more,” he added.

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Tourism Board general manager of event and product development Mason Hung Chung-hing would not reveal the cost of the overhaul, only saying it would be covered by a HK$100 million grant from the government that is to be spent over three years.

Between December 1 and 28, the Hong Kong Pulse Light Show will also return at the Cultural Centre’s exterior facade.

Running five times every night during the holiday season, the eight-minute show features a Christmas theme and artificial snowflakes.