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Thousands line Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour for drone show, with some saying it’s more impressive than pyrotechnics display

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Thousands of residents and visitors lined Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbour to watch a drone show on Saturday night, with some saying they enjoyed it more than a pyrotechnic display earlier this month.

About 1,000 drones formed a colourful array of shapes and patterns, including of a bun tower, dancing lion and a flower board with waving flags, among other well-known images from Hong Kong culture.

The drone show paid tribute to Buddha, whose birthday is celebrated on May 15, and the annual week-long Cheung Chau Bun Festival, which takes place on the outlying island and honours Pak Tai, a Taoist god of the sea.

The drone show and pyrotechnics display will be held regularly as part of a wider push by tourism authorities to make the city more attractive to visitors.

Kane Chiu, a mainland Chinese in his twenties studying in Hong Kong, said it was his first time watching a drone show and he found it more attractive than the pyrotechnics display he saw on the May 1 Labour Day holiday.

“Comparatively speaking, I personally find the drone show more novel,” he said. “Maybe it is because I have watched pyrotechnics displays several times and found them less astonishing.”

The Tourism Board held the pyrotechnics display to mark the start of mainland China’s “golden week” holiday, but some viewers told the Post they were disappointed and they mostly just saw smoke.

The fireworks and drone shows each carry a price tag of about HK$1 million (US$128,000). Photo: Edmond So

Banyan Su, a visitor from Shenzhen, said the drone formation of a knot and the Chinese character for “peace” was especially impressive.

“It is a spectacle against the backdrop of the night view of Victoria Harbour … ‘Peace’ is auspicious to Chinese people and fits our mentality,” the 34-year-old traveller said.

He said he would travel to Hong Kong again for future shows and hoped to see the pyrotechnics display next time.

Harry Booth, a 27-year-old tourist from the United Kingdom, called the show “vibrant” and said he hoped future ones could last longer.

“I think the drone show is more unique, rather than a firework show, because you see firework shows quite a lot all around the world,” he said.

“[The show can last] maybe like 20 minutes, 15 minutes, a bit longer. Maybe a few more different animals or whatever, stuff to do with Hong Kong.”

His girlfriend Jess Milner noted drone shows did not have an adverse effect on the city’s animals.

“I think that would be nicer in terms of love for animals, because I know fireworks have a really bad impact on the animals … I do think it would attract just as many people as a firework show,” she said.

The Tourism Board, which organised the drone show, distributed free ice cream to the public earlier at Wan Chai pier, deemed the best spot to view the spectacle. Photo: Edmond So

Hongkonger Kay Kwan and her family arrived just in time for the show at 8pm. But due to the crowds, they could only stand farther back at the Wan Chai promenade, leaving them unable to see the entire patterns the drones were forming.

“Maybe it is better to hold the show in Central as it is more spacious and people could view it from a distance,” she said. “The performance is much better than the fireworks show. It is less crowded and less noisy. It also creates less pollution.”

The Tourism Board, which organised the drone show, distributed free ice cream to the public earlier at Wan Chai pier, deemed the best spot to view the spectacle.

The fireworks and drone shows each carry a price tag of about HK$1 million (US$128,000).

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