Although they were once found mainly at rock concerts or art exhibitions, laser light shows, like this one in Brisbane, Australia, have grown into huge displays of creativity and technology for everyone. Whether they’re decorating a building wall or lighting up an entire city waterfront, laser shows are popular the world over as a form of mass entertainment. Here’s a collection of photographs from various cities that have hosted these incredible, eye-popping displays.
A Symphony of Lights – Victoria Harbour, Hong Kong
Hong Kong’s “A Symphony of Lights” has been named by Guinness World Records as the world’s biggest permanent sound and light show. Every night – if the weather is good enough – spectators are treated to the sight of more than 40 buildings around Victoria Harbour lit up in a huge display of lasers, lights, music and fireworks. The display is based around the diversity, vitality and spirit of Hong Kong and is divided into five themes. So far, over four million people have watched the show, which cost the equivalent of US$5.7 million to develop.
Inauguration – Burj Khalifa, Dubai, U.A.E.
In this image, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai is gorgeously futuristic and looks a little like it might take off for outer space at any moment. The photograph was taken during the tower’s inauguration on January 4, 2010. Stroboscope lights, fireworks and laser beams were all used to great effect in a light show that celebrated the construction of the world’s tallest man-made building. These days, regular light shows take place at the nearby Dubai Fountain.
Global Rainbow – Newtownards, Ireland
These fantastic bands of light are part of an art installation known as the “Global Rainbow.” The creation of artist Yvette Mattern was first displayed in New York in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. It has since traveled around the world, with this installation at Newtownards in Northern Ireland a shining example. The seven colored beams of high-specification laser light are intended to display diversity and symbolize hope. In November 2012 the installation returned to the skylines of New York, where the beams emerged from The Standard, High Line hotel in Manhattan. Here, it was re-titled “Global Rainbow: After the Storm” and was aimed to act as an appeal for support for those affected by Hurricane Sandy.
Alfa Show 4D – Moscow, Russia
This wonderfully laser-painted building is Moscow State University, lit up in honor of Moscow City Day on September 4, 2011. Every year on the first Saturday of September, Moscow celebrates the anniversary of the city’s founding, more than eight centuries ago. The laser show featuring the university was one of the highlights of the celebrations, and it was billed as the biggest video-mapping laser projection ever. The total area of the projection was 274,480 square feet (25,500 square meters), and over 800,000 people were there to see the groundbreaking event.
Image: Chris Phutully
From the Deep – Melbourne, Australia
Water played a major part in this light show, titled “From the Deep,” held on Melbourne’s Yarra River. On February 23, 2013, lasers and gushing fountains helped create a spectacle featuring mesmerizing colors and patterns. The show was part of the White Night festival, celebrating art, music, food, film and light with more than 80 free events throughout the city.
Bosphorus Bridge – Istanbul, Turkey
The Bosphorus Bridge, which spans the Bosphorus strait in Istanbul, is here lit up with red lights and lighter colored beams. The light show is a nightly occurrence, as the bridge has an LED lighting system that produces changing patterns and colors every day after dark. Each Republic Day on October 29, the bridge is also host to a dazzling show including lasers and fireworks.
Wonder Full – Marina Bay, Singapore
Singapore’s “Wonder Full” extravaganza publicizes itself as “Southeast Asia’s largest light and water show,” and it’s suitably spectacular. Fifteen high-energy lasers, 30 high-powered searchlights and nine high-definition film projectors are synchronized to a soundtrack created by some of Singapore’s leading composers. Over the course of 13 minutes, the show tells the story of life from birth through adulthood.
Inauguration – Berlin Central Train Station, Germany
Berlin Central Station could be something from a science-fiction movie in this photograph, in which beautiful blue lasers can be seen reflected in the Spree river. The station opened with a two-day celebration in May 2006. A sound and light show – seen here – plus fireworks were part of the festivities.
Sound and Light – Tzarevets Hill, Bulgaria
In this photograph, the medieval stronghold on Tsarevets Hill in Bulgaria almost looks like something from a Disney film. The ancient walls are a kaleidoscope of colors, while two green beams shine up into the sky. This effect is thanks to a show that takes place in the evening in which the lasers, hundreds of lights and clashing church bells come together to tell the story of Bulgarian history. The attraction, which was created by a Czech and Bulgarian team, has been held here since 1985.
Inauguration – The Shard, London, U.K.
When the Shard skyscraper in London was inaugurated on July 5, 2012, it was celebrated with a huge sound and light show. A dozen laser beams streamed from the building, some of them touching other major landmarks such as the London Eye and Tower Bridge. The soundtrack to the brilliant display was provided by the London Philharmonic Orchestra. Europe’s new tallest building was lit up by powerful searchlights for the climax of the show.
Image: Graeme Darbyshire
Global Rainbow – Whitley Bay, U.K.
Here is the Global Rainbow again, this time seen over Whitley Bay in the U.K. On this occasion, the multicolored beams were in honor of the 2012 London Olympics, and they are so vivid that they look almost unreal against the night sky. The installation was projected from St. Mary’s Lighthouse for four nights before ending on March 4, 2012.
Image: Nigel Howe
Vivid – Sydney, Australia
Every year in May and June, the Vivid festival lights up the city and harbor of Sydney, Australia. At the Opera House, as seen above, colored lights are projected onto the iconic “sails,” transforming the entire building into a glowing art sculpture. Other landmarks like the Australian National Maritime Museum and Sydney Harbour Bridge were given temporary psychedelic makeovers during the 2013 event, which also featured light shows set to music during its three-week run.
City of Lights – Brisbane, Australia
The “City of Lights” is a laser, lights and special effects display that is part of the Brisbane Festival. Music, dancers, acrobats and cascades of water are all incorporated into the show, with Melbourne collective Strange Fruit adding a circus element to proceedings. The event is being held nightly for three weeks during September 2013.
Festival of Lights – Lyon, France
Every year, the Lyon Festival of Lights is held in December. The root of the festival goes back to the plague of 1643, when the townsfolk beseeched the Virgin Mary to spare them. Originally the event was just marked with candles, but now a modern light show is put on as well. The festival lasts for four days and attracts more than three million visitors.