Alternative Nightlife: Hangzhou’s Top Three Song & Dance Performances

Alternative Nightlife: Hangzhou’s Top Three Song & Dance Performances

Hangzhou is one of China’s major tourist cities and has been accumulating quite a variety of nightlife activities in the past few years. These nightlife activities obviously include the growing list of bars and clubs, but also a number of visually stunning song and dance performances. Of all the Hangzhou song and dance shows, three performances really stand out – they include Impressions of West Lake, Historic City of Song Dynasty, and Nightfall on West Lake; all the three performances are unique – Historic City of Song Dynasty attracts the largest crowd, Nightfall on West Lake has the best seating, but Impressions of West Lake is the most well-known and most artsy of the three. Read on further for a more detailed introduction to the performances.

Impression of West Lake.

Impressions of West Lake印象西湖 View In Map
Impressions of West Lake is a play inspired by the rich nature, culture, and history that surrounds the scenic area known as West Lake. It has also taken elements from local folklore and myth and coupled it modern technology; the most eye-catching example being the show’s use of artificial rain in order to recreate a real-life scene of rainfall over the majestic West Lake. World renowned musician Kitaro has composed an epic-sounding score that carries you through the performance; famous Chinese director Zhang Yimou has also contributed his artistry to the performance by integrating the natural scenery that surrounds the area with the play itself; and Zhang Liangying contributes her beautiful singing voice to help audiences interpret and relate to the performance better.

The entire West Lake and Yue Lake area, coupled with the unique stage over the water and the endless skies above, are all part of the elements that make this a spectacular show. The performance here has done away with being enclosed and restricted to the stage, allowing the folklore about the white snake-turned-beautiful-woman and her human lover to truly come to life amidst the beautiful scenery. The poplar trees reflecting on the water, the swirls of rain drops, and the beautiful moonlight effects that are threaded through and through the performance together create a performance that is just pure magic. 

Tickets: 250/300/450/600 RMB
Tel: 0571 8886 7666
Time: First show starts at 19:45; second show starts at 21:15 (normally, there is only one show and an additional show is offered only on Friday and Saturday)
Add: Yue Lake Scenic Area, right across from Yue Fei Temple (Yanggongdi and Beishan Rd intersection, west side of West Lake) 杭州市西湖西面杨公堤与北山路交界处岳王庙正对面岳湖景区内
Transportation: Take bus route 81 to Yue Fei Temple live performance venue


Nightfall on West Lake.


Nightfall on West Lake西湖之夜View In Map
Nightfall on West Lake is one of the must-see performances for visiotors to Hangzhou. It is inspired by history unique to the local area. In the 60-minute long performance, over a hundred performers showcase Chinese martial arts, gymnastic feats, folk music and folk opera and dance. The eclectic mix of performance and music helps represent Hangzhou in its full glory as a historic city of the Song Dynasty, as well as a city of love, tea culture, silk trade, and Buddhism. The performance includes five acts: “Heroism of Yue Fei”; “Majestic Scenery at Qian Pond”; “Butterfly Lovers”; “Beautiful Qian Pond”; and “Buddhist Center of the East”.

Tickets: 180/200 RMB
Tel: 0571 8708 5992
Time: Every night beginning at 19:10
Add: Dongpo Grand Theater (10 Dongpo Rd, Shangcheng district) 杭州市上城区东坡路10号东坡大剧院
Transportation: Take bus route 25 or 7 to Hubin Rd, then walk for 131 meters to destination


Historic City of Song Dynasty.

Historic City of Song Dynasty宋城千古情View In Map
The theatrical presentation Historic City of Song Dynasty restores Hangzhou to its former glory as a major trade city during the Song Dynasty. There are five acts to the play: “Light of Liangzhu”; “Song Dynasty Palace Dance”; “Song Warriors”; “Beautiful Xizi, Beautiful Legend”; “The World is Converged Here”. The performance traces the history of Hangzhou from when civilization was first born with the New Stone Age all the way up to hosting the 2006 World Recreation Expo.  The various acts are diverse and contrasting; depicting bustling life in one scene and the city’s serene beauty in another.

The performance includes dance, gymnastic feats, fashion and other art forms to help tell the story. It also uses state-of-the-art lighting, sound, choreography and costumes to portray folk elements but also to merge international concepts into the whole performance – thus offering something that is both original but reminiscent of the folk culture in Hangzhou.

Tickets: 180/220/380 RMB
Time: First show starts at 18:30 and second show starts at 20:00 every night (duration of each performance is around 60 minutes)
Add: Songcheng Grand Theater (148 Zhijiang Blvd) 杭州市之江大道148号宋城大剧院
Transportation: Take bus routes 190, 202, 280, 308, 354, 4, 808 to Zhejiang University (Zhijiang campus) and walk for another 16 meters to destination

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Keywords: Hangzhou west lake performances alternative nightlife culture hangzhou impressions of west lake Hangzhou


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