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Unveiling the magic behind ‘A Symphony of Lights’

LUXE City Guides
  • Written by LUXE City Guides

Between the sea and the sky that frame Hong Kong’s iconic skyline, the natural world and human innovation unite in a spectacular two-act tale. By day, the emerald-hued hills assume the central role, but as evening falls the organic landscape takes a bow, allowing the dazzling glass-and-steel chorus to emerge as the stars of the show, and never is the performance more spectacular than during the nightly ‘A Symphony of Lights’


Whether observed from the water’s edge along Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade , or enjoyed in a more intimate setting perched above the city in a sky-high restaurant, the 8pm start time is always met with eager anticipation. This fact is not lost on Sydney-based Richard Lindsay, the founder of creative design agency Artists in Motion, who was part of the team tasked with redesigning the world’s largest permanent lighting and music show in 2017, 14 years after it first illuminated Victoria Harbour.

The canvas is very special. To have one of the most stunning skylines framed by such beautiful nature is unique to Hong Kong. The show needed to be a celebration of that.

Choreographing the Symphony of Lights

The challenge, according to Lindsay, was to effortlessly unite the seemingly disparate parts of the skyline — from the Kai Tak Cruise Terminal on the eastern edge of the periphery to the towers that stand proud in Central and the buildings of Tsim Sha Tsui — through a narrative that the audience could follow and appreciate. “We chose the overarching theme of togetherness as a way to enhance the skyline to sing together as one,”  says Lindsay.

Victoria Harbour

Photo Credit: Calvin Sit

To ensure that auditory harmony was achieved, Artists in Motion enlisted the help of Berlin-based composer Christian Steinhäuser, along with more than 100 musicians, including the Hong Kong Philharmonic Orchestra. “We had always intended to include local musicians as we felt the music needed to speak to the people of the city, its culture and its relationship with the iconic harbour,” says Lindsay.

The music is important to enhance the show and make sure the audience knows they are witnessing something special. We blended modern and classical elements to create a futuristic but emotional composition. These two elements complement the dynamism of Hong Kong and its culture perfectly.

As the first beat of the soundtrack pulsates, the lights begin to spark, collectively gathering pace and intensity, which is no mean feat for a spectacle spanning about 10 minutes and more than 40 buildings with countless lights, lasers and LED screens.


Indeed, to oversee such a vast canvas, Lindsay and his team employed an accurate model of Hong Kong’s harbour to help them orchestrate the show. “Lighting, laser and content artists contribute and need to work together to create the overall presentation. This requires a lot of coordination and a strong overall creative vision; everything came together through flexibility and communication,” says Lindsay. 

Choreographing the Symphony of Lights

“Initially, buildings were chosen based on their existing infrastructure,” explains Lindsay. “Lighting installations and laser systems were utilised from the previous show and existing advertising LED screens were introduced to create a bigger spectacle.” But a distinctive design approach was also taken. “The lighting selection for each building is based on the creative intention and its location on the skyline. Some buildings lend themselves better to fewer, more powerful spotlights, others have a larger roofline and allow for more density and spread of the light,” he says.

For something so complex and technical, the show seems to emerge from the city almost organically. From the opening rhythmic beats, to the sonorous strings and the electronic-inflected melodies to the visual performance, ‘A Symphony of Lights’ is an uplifting, powerful production and a fittingly spectacular tribute to a very special city. 

Where to watch ‘A Symphony of Lights’

Tsim Sha Tsui Promenade

Info: For front-row views of the show, head to the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront outside the Hong Kong Cultural Centre and the Avenue of Stars. Owing to its prime location, it’s also the most popular vantage so get there early to find a spot.   
Address: Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon  
Website:  https://www.avenueofstars.com.hk/en/  
Aqua Luna

Harbour cruise

Hop aboard one of the harbour cruises and sail into the middle of the cacophony of lights and music — some also serve food and drinks.

The Legacy House, Rosewood Hong Kong

Rosewood’s Cantonese restaurant affords enviable harbour views from its main dining room and seven private rooms.

Address: Rosewood Hong Kong, Victoria Dockside, 18 Salisbury Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon
Phone: +852 3891 8732
Website:  https://www.rosewoodhotels.com/en/hong-kong/dining/the-legacy-house

Felix, The Peninsula Hong Kong

Perched on the 28th floor of The Peninsula, the high-voltage, Philippe Starck-designed Felix is renowned for its dazzling harbour vistas. 

Central Harbourfront 

You’ve watched the show from TST, now opt for a different angle (and fewer crowds) at Central Harbourfront and connecting Tamar Park. 

Golden Bauhinia Square 

Home to the reunification monument —  the Forever Blooming Bauhinia Sculpture  — gifted by the Chinese government to mark the Handover in 1997, this pocket along Expo Promenade is also a top spot for admiring the harbour vistas. 

Enjoy the orchestral music no matter where you are by downloading the official ‘A Symphony of Lights’ app, available at iTunes and Google Play stores.


When Tropical Cyclone Warning Signal No.3 or above or Red/Black Rainstorm Warning Signal is issued at or after 3pm, the show will be cancelled. No show will be staged even if the signal is lowered before 8pm on the same day. For details, please visit the website.

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Information in this article is subject to change without advance notice. Please contact the relevant product or service providers for enquiries.
The Hong Kong Tourism Board disclaims any liability as to the quality or fitness for purpose of third party products and services; and makes no representation or warranty as to the accuracy, adequacy or reliability of any information contained herein.

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