What it is: The Hong Kong light show, called Symphony of Lights, is one of the city’s top sightseeing attractions. It involves more than 40 buildings on both sides of Victoria Harbor and is “the world’s largest permanent light and sound show” according to Guinness World Records. It starts at 8 pm and lasts about 13 minutes. The show’s soundtrack—music and narration—is broadcast along the waterfront in different languages. Spectators can also tune in on their mobile phones.
What I saw: It was a once in a lifetime experience, or at least a once in a travel time experience. The show’s designers couldn’t have staged it better, even if they’d wanted to.
I had reservations for dinner at Hutong Restaurant across the harbor in Tsim Sha Tsui. I had already taken the famous Star Ferry during the day and was looking forward to an evening ride.
Central’s skyline was beautiful in the gloaming, an amuse bouche before the feast of lights to come. The plan was to watch the show from the restaurant, which boasts great views of the harbor. My only worry (and frustration) was that the forecast called for thunderstorms. It had been raining on and off for the past two days and I’d barely seen the famous views. I kept looking at the hour-by-hour forecast on my iPhone, heartbroken that the one night I had slotted for the light show would be stormy.
It started drizzling just as we disembarked. By the time we entered the restaurant on the 28th floor and were seated, it had turned into a downpour. But the view was spectacular with the raindrops running down the slanted windows blurring the picture into an Impressionist rendition.
We had a “front row” table that felt like we were perched over the harbor, with the boats and ferries right below us and the illuminated Central’s skyline nearly within reach.
Hutong is a Northern Chinese restaurant, decorated accordingly. I delighted at the intricate designs on the china, the silk-cloth menus and red overhead lanterns.
But the view was impossible to ignore even before the light show started. When it did, colored lights began crawling up and down the building facades, changing colors and designs. Laser beams and searchlights sliced through the sky.
The rain intensified and before we knew it, we had a full-blown thunderstorm. The lightning over the hills seemed synchronized with the lights, laser beams and searchlights across Central’s skyline. It was hard to keep the conversation going, let alone eat.
And then it happened.
There is no better light show than the one Mother Nature throws at us. But there are no scheduled times, no tickets, no planning. One look at my plate, cutting up a bite with my knife and fork, and I would have missed it