A Symphony of Lights (Chinese: 幻彩詠香江, SoL)), a daily multimedia light and sound show in Hong Kong setting the harbor ablaze every night since January 17, 2004 (initially with walls of 18 buildings as a performance venue), is an orchestration of music, decoration lights, laser light displays and pyrotechnic fireworks conceptualized, created, and installed by LaserVision.
According to the Guinness World Records, it is the world’s largest permanent light and sound show. Organized by the Hong Kong Tourism Board, the show is held, with good weather, every night at 8 pm Hong Kong Time (UTC+8) and lasts for around 14 minutes. Recognized as one of the world’s most spectacular light shows, it has become the signature icon for Hong Kong, showcasing the vibrancy and glamorous night vista of the city and symbolizing its dynamic energy and contrasting culture.
Since December 23, 2005, the Symphony of Lights extended to the Kowloon peninsula (including the Tsim Sha Tsui and Hung Hom). In December 2017, exciting, new elements plus a new musical score entwined with a vibrant and contemporary flavor, performed by the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra, were introduced, taking on a new direction and transforming Hong Kong’s cityscape into a true symphony representing its charismatic rhythm.
Traditional Chinese flutes and bowed string instruments (such as the erhu), have been interwoven to create a truly distinctive sound, matching Hong Kong’s character of “East meets West.” In 2018, a second phase was launched, expanding the show to even more buildings.
Iconic buildings on both sides of the harbor, with a myriad of searchlights, lasers, LED screens and lighting, work in symphony and unite to form a harmonious canvas for a sensational multimedia extravaganza for the enjoyment of millions of tourists. Placed together, this nightly spectacle transformed the Hong Kong skyline into an outdoor audiovisual feast for the senses.
SoL’s source of inspiration is the patterned symmetry of Hong Kong’s skyline, modern metropolitan design, forested mountain terrain and expanse of the harbor, offering a truly all-encompassing visual and sound scape of the its soul. Each participating building is joined into a harmonious and complete canvas by a symphonic approach, working effortlessly together to the beat in unison.
The show comprises five major themes (“Awakenings,” “Energy,” “Heritage,” “Partnership” and “Celebration”), taking spectators on a unique journey celebrating the energy, spirit and diversity of Hong Kong. “Awakening,” symbolizing the genesis and powerful growth of Hong Kong, begins with flashes of laser lights that give life to a nucleus of light-energy which gradually illuminates participating buildings using an array of dancing lights and rainbow color.
“Energy,” signifying the vibrant energy of Hong Kong, is represented by the display of rising color patterns and the sweeping of the lasers and searchlights energetically across the night sky. “Heritage,” symbolizing Hong Kong’s colorful heritage and rich cultural traditions, displays traditional lucky red and gold colors across buildings on both sides of the Harbor, complemented by the introduction of music using Chinese musical instruments.
“Partnership,” representing an illuminated connection with the opposite side, features a display, scanning across the Harbor, of sweeping searchlights and laser beams reaching out to symbolically connect the two sides of the Harbor into one greater and unified partnership. The exciting “Celebration,” signifying the celebration of the close partnership between the two sides of the Harbor and representing an even brighter future for Hong Kong, brings out a powerful rhythmic display of swirling, kaleidoscopic patterns of lights and beams dancing lively across the Harbor.
The best vantage points at the harbor front areas, where the Show’s music (to tune in to the music, download the show’s mobile app) and narration are broadcast live, are “Avenue of Stars” (on the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront near Hong Kong Cultural Center), and on the waterfront promenade outside the Golden Bauhinia Square in Wan Chai. Sightseeing ferries (i.e. Star Ferry, also check out harbour cruises), running across the Victoria Harbor, are also good vantage points for watching the show.
Check out “Avenue of the Stars“
There are 47 participating buildings, on both sides of glamorous Victoria Harbor, with different types of lighting effects included in the show, such as laser, searchlights, LED lights, simple lighting and projection lighting.
The 20 buildings (^ indicates fireworks are included on special days), from east to west, included in Hong Kong Island North Shore (including Wan Chai, Admiralty and Central) are:
- Sun Hung Kai Centre^ (from January 17, 2004) – laser, searchlights
- Central Plaza, Hong Kong^ (from January 17, 2004) – laser
- Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (from January 17, 2004) – LED lights
- Hopewell Centre^ (from December 2004) – LED lights, laser
- Harcourt House (Hong Kong)^ (from January 17, 2004) – LED lights
- The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts (from January 17, 2004) – searchlights, projection lighting, LED lights
- MassMutualTower (from January 17, 2004) – LED lights
- CITIC Tower^ (from May 1, 2005) – LED lights
- Queensway Government Offices^ (from January 17, 2004) – searchlights]
- The Chinese People’s Liberation Army Forces Hong Kong Building (from January 17, 2004) – searchlights, projection lighting
- Bank of China Tower (from January 17, 2004) – LED lights, searchlights
- Cheung Kong Center^ (from January 17, 2004) – Optical Fiber
- HSBC Main Building^ (from January 17, 2004) – LED light, searchlights
- Hong Kong City Hall (from January 17, 2004) – LED lights
- Jardine House^ (from January 17, 2004) – searchlights, projection lighting
- One Exchange Square (from January 17, 2004) – searchlights, projection lighting
- Two Exchange Square (from January 17, 2004) [searchlights, projection lighting
- Two International Finance Centre^ (from January 17, 2004) – laser
- One International Finance Centre (from January 17, 2004) – laser
- The Center (from January 17, 2004) – LED lights
The 23 buildings (^ indicates fireworks are included on special days) included in the Kowloon Peninsula are:
- Star House (from December 23, 2005) – projection lighting
- Hong Kong Cultural Centre^ (from December 23, 2005) – searchlights, projection lighting
- One Peking^ (from December 23, 2005) – searchlights
- Hong Kong Museum of Art^ (from December 23, 2005) – LED lights, searchlights, projection lighting
- The Peninsula Hong Kong (from December 23, 2005) – simple lighting
- Avenue of Stars (from December 23, 2005) – searchlights, LED lights
- Hotel Panorama^ (from December 23, 2005) – projection lighting
- New World Centre^ (from December 23, 2005) – searchlights (under redevelopment)
- Tsim Sha Tsui Centre (from December 23, 2005) – LED lights, searchlights
- Empire Centre^ (from December 23, 2005) – LED lights, searchlights
- InterContinental Grand Stanford Hong Kong (from December 23, 2005) – simple lighting
- Hong Kong Coliseum (from December 23, 2005) – LED lights, searchlights, projection lighting
- The Gateway (with Gateway Tower 5 building combined) – Harbour City (from May 1, 2007) – LED lights, searchlights
- Ocean Terminal – Harbour City (from June 26, 2007)- projection lighting
- Langham Place (from June 26, 2007) – LED lights, searchlights
- 26 Nathan Road^ (from May 1, 2007) – LED lights
- K11 (from June 26, 2007)- laser
- Harbourview Horizon All-Suite Hotel (from June 26, 2007)- LED lights
- Harbourfront Horizon All-Suite Hotel (from June 26, 2007)- LED lights
- EMax (from June 26, 2007) – searchlights
- Megabox (from October 1, 2007) – LED lights, searchlights
- International Commerce Centre (from May 1, 2012) – LED lights, laser
- Kai Tak Cruise Terminal (from late 2014) – searchlights
The 4 buildings added in Hong Kong Island include:
- AIA Central(from December 23, 2005) – LED lights
- Bank of America Tower (from May 1, 2007) – LED lights
- Standard Chartered Bank Building (from May 1, 2007) – LED lights
- CCB Tower (from 2014) – LED lights, laser
Symphony of Lights: Buildings both on Hong Kong Island and in Kowloon. 8pm nightly. Tel:+852 2508 1234. Website: www.tourism.gov.hk. Admission is free. No admission ticket is required.
The show may be suspended during days of mourning, the night of Earth Hour and in emergencies without prior notice. The narration is in English nn Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays; in Mandarin on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, and Cantonese on Sundays. Special pyrotechnic fireworks, added (since New Year’s Eve of 2007) to the show on the rooftop of participating buildings on both sides of the harbor or on stages off at the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront, are used during Chinese New Year, Christmas or on special events. When, on any given day, the Hong Kong Observatory issues Tropical Cyclone Warning Signal No.3 or above or a Red or Black Rainstorm Warning Signal at or after 3 pm, the show is suspended for that evening, even if the warning is subsequently rescinded prior to the 8 pm start time.
The mobile application of “A Symphony of Lights” can be downloaded from the following websites:
- Android version: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.tourismcommision.sol
- iOS version: https://itunes.apple.com/hk/app/a-symphony-of-lights-%E5%B9%BB%E5%BD%A9%E8%A9%A0%E9%A6%99%E6%B1%9F/id1316661549?ls=1&mt=8
Spectators can also tune into the music of “A Symphony of Lights” through the dedicated mobile application.
How to Get to Vantage Points:
- Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade outside the Hong Kong Cultural Centre – MTR East Tsim Sha Tsui Station, Exit L6. Follow the signs and walk for around five minutes.
- Golden Bauhinia Square – MTR Wan Chai Station, Exit A5. Follow the signs, take the skybridge to the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, and head for the Golden Bauhinia Square.