In the last week of 2020, light beams shooting in all directions and a variety of splendid light shows illuminated the city of Kaohsiung with unprecedented grandeur.

The grand-scale lighting-up of the city was one of the features of Kaohsiung 100 — a series of events organized by the Kaohsiung City Government to commemorate the city name’s centennial. 

2020 marks the 100th year since Kaohsiung changed its current name from “Takao (打狗)”, which originated from the local aboriginals in the 17th century, understood at the time as bamboo forest.

Ernest Leroux – “Plan de Takaô.” 1893. Map. Imbault-Huart, C. L’ile Formose, histoire et description

The Japanese later replaced the name with “高雄” (pronounced “Kaohsiung” in Mandarin) in 1920, which had the same Japanese pronunciation as Takao, but with an alternative meaning, since the prior was considered too vulgar. 

The weeklong events took place from December 24th to January 3rd 2021, and consisted of laser light shows across Kaohsiung Port, light displays at different settings highlighting Kaohsiung’s momentous transformation over the last century, and live arts and musical performances on New Years Eve.

The spectacular shows around Kaohsiung 100 attracted large crowds of Kaohsiung residents and tourists from all over Taiwan to not only celebrate the 100th anniversary of “Kaohsiung”, but also the tremendous efforts the government and its citizens have made collectively to combat the pandemic in the past year. 

For myself, as a Kaohsiung native, I simply had to witness with my own eyes and appreciate this historic moment for my beloved city.

I spent half a day stopping by two metro stations that had 3D light projection shows playing at designated times, and visited Kaohsiung Port in the evening as my final stop. 

I first got off at Formosa Boulevard station, where the Dome of Lightthe world’s largest glass work, is situated.

Every thirty minutes, there would be a series of interactive light projections cast onto the ground under the Dome of Light in clouds of vibrant colors, featuring mythological creatures that symbolize death and rebirth, and the various wonders of life.

What intrigued me was how certain parts of the projections would alter their course along with the movements of my steps, which made the visual experience even more exciting. 

Next stop was Central Park station, where a different series of interactive light projections were shown on a white roof shielding one of the station exit’s escalators, this time exhibiting the top travel destinations of Kaohsiung, alternated with a floating gigantic whale.

The 3D effects of the show were so vivid that it felt as if I was physically present at those times and places. 

Lastly, I hopped back on the metro and travelled to Pier 2 Art District, and Kaohsiung Port.

As I gradually approached the port, I was immediately mesmerized by the colorful laser beams interlacing one another, lighting up the port and its surrounding area encompassing the Kaohsiung Music Center, Love River Bay and multiple buildings.

Every thirty minutes, the laser show would repeat itself, accompanied by upbeat music blasted with a multidimensional audio effect. 

The New Year’s Eve countdown celebration taking place at Kaohsiung Port was also on the top of my list.

However, for fear of potential outbreaks of the virus at a significantly crowded event, the government cancelled the original plan of an open venue and changed the celebration to an online live broadcast.

Although it was a pity not being able to enjoy the events in person, I was still able to check out live recordings of the five-minute dazzling fireworks and cutting-edge drone light show forming “2021” and “Taiwan Can Help”.

In addition, there were also live music performances of orchestral and popular music from various Taiwanese artists and musicians at the three main stages by the Pier 2 Art District area, Kaohsiung Music center and Love River Bay, which were also broadcast online. 

The past week of celebratory events wonderfully captured the evolution of Kaohsiung into a beautiful metropolis over the last one hundred years.

Not only did the Kaohsiung City Government put together magnificent light shows and performances that lit up the city and the spirits of its people, it also introduced important historical progresses that led to the Kaohsiung we know today.

January 3rd marked a successful ending to Kaohsiung 100, and from here, we look forward to what the next 100 years have in store for us. 

All images supplied by the author unless otherwise indicated.

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