In view of the reopening of performing venues on 19 February, the Hong Kong Arts Festival announces changes to in-venue programmes. Please visit this page for details.

2005 Hong Kong Arts Festival

October 28th, 2004

The Hong Kong Arts Festival today announced details of the 2005 Festival. Over five weeks from 17 February through 20 March 2005, the Festival will present a total of 121 performances of 54 different programmes featuring 42 performing groups - 32 from overseas and 10 local - with two exhibitions. An array of exceptional artists from around the globe will participate in the Festival, including 961 overseas and 304 local performers and crew members.

Mr Charles Lee, the Festival's Chairman said, "As a showcase for the best international and regional artists and also for the creativity of our own artistic community in Hong Kong, the Festival continues to be a major arts event on the Hong Kong cultural calendar and in the Asia Pacific region". He added, "The programme for the 33rd Arts Festival is rich and diverse, encompassing different tastes and preferences, and offering something for everyone, young and old".

Mr Douglas Gautier, Executive Director, outlined the theme of the coming Festival. He said, "We are very excited about this Festival - it's one of our biggest yet and the range and talent of artists taking part is outstanding. We hope everyone will take a good look at what is on offer and join us at Festival time."

The Festival will open with Otello, which many consider to be Verdi's greatest opera. This fine production by the Polish National Opera will be a spectacular and gripping evening in the theatre.

The Festival's major commission will be Amber, a music theatre spectacle by the prestigious National Theatre Company of China. A co-commission with the Singapore Arts Festival, Amber is directed by Meng Jinghui, the most influential figure in Chinese contemporary theatre and starring Liu Ye, winner of the Golden Horse and the Golden Rooster award for Best Actor. This promises to be an important piece of new work and the Festival is delighted to present its world premiere.

At the core of the Festival's orchestral programme is the complete Beethoven Symphonic Cycle as performed by the Orchestra of the 18th Century, with the Gulbenkian Choir, under Frans Bruggen. This set of special concerts will be augmented by an exhibition from the Beethoven House in Bonn. Other classical delights include the pianist Fazil Say, the Brazilian Guitar Quartet, the Ensemble Antipodes, the Ysaye Quartet and the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra with the brilliant pianist Leif Ove Andsnes.

Among other variations on this spiritual and secular theme are superb concert programmes from the Russian Orthodox Choir, Cantus Dei, performing at St John's Cathedral; the hot gospel group The Blind Boys of Alabama and the entrancing gypsy band Divana from Rajasthan.

World music and jazz programmes will also draw on the talents of Regina Carter, Poncho Sanchez, Lila Downs, Brad Mehldau and a fascinating retrospective of jazz from the Shanghai of the 1920's and 1930's.

The spectacular staging of the kun opera The Palace of Eternal Youth, a presentation at the 2004 World Heritage Committee of UNESCO, will be an unprecedented Chinese opera event in Hong Kong. The impressive settings and costumes are designed by Oscar winner Tim Yip. In addition there will be a showcase of the Cantonese Opera master works of Tong Tik-sang.

Nothing could be more secular or sensual than flamenco music and dance, and the Ballet Nacional de Espana will bring a mostly flamenco programme. The dance component of the Festival also includes the Bejart Ballet Lausanne, celebrating Maurice Bejart's first visit to Hong Kong; Compagnia Aterballetto from Italy; Saburo Teshigawara/KARAS from Japan and the Nederlands Dans Theatre III, as well as a commission Little Prince Hamlet, from leading young Asian choreographers and theatre artists.

Besides Amber, the Festival has also commissioned from the Yellow Earth and the Chung Ying Theatre companies, The Nightingale, based on Hans Christian Andersen's story and which will mark the bicentenary of the author's birth.

The French Kiss is another local theatre commission, and deals with a sensational subject which provides great dramatic impetus for this provocative and powerful drama. There are also many other theatre and circus works from France and Chile, including Perchance to Dream, L'Oratorio d'Aurelia, La Syncope du 7 and Jesus Betz, and a further Hong Kong commission, i-City.

While from Italian Nobel Prize winner Dario Fo comes Johan Padan and the Discovery of America, an irreverent and spicy story of Christopher Columbus's expedition to America.

The Festival is also proud to present outstanding young Hong Kong musicians, pianist Rachel Cheung and the Fresh Air Brass Quintet. Additionally, there is a wide range of 'meet-the-artist' sessions and background talks in the Festival Plus programme.

The 2005 Hong Kong Arts Festival will be one of the biggest Festivals to date, in terms of the number and the diversity of programmes. The total operating budget for the 2005 Festival is approximately $60 million. The Festival received a subvention of $16.44 million from the Government through the Leisure and Cultural Services Department and a $3.61 million donation from the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust. In order to break even, the Festival hopes to raise approximately $13 million through sponsorships and donations, and close to $27 million through ticket sales.

The Programme and Booking Guides are available at all URBTIX outlets from 29 October 2004. For the first time the Hong Kong Arts Festival has produced a CD Sampler with 16 selected audio tracks from the music programmes of the forthcoming Festival. The audience can catch a glimpse of some of this year's video and audio highlights on the Festival web site, or request a free VCD/CD-ROM or a CD sampler available by returning a request form in the Programme & Booking Guide.

Advance Bookings for the 2004 Hong Kong Arts Festival will be accepted by post, fax or on the Internet from 29 October through 27 November 2004, while Counter Bookings will start on
4 December 2004. URBTIX Registered Patrons can call 2734 9011 to book Festival tickets from
29 October. Patrons can check in the Programme & Booking Guide or visit the Hong Kong Arts Festival web site at for more details. (The Hong Kong Arts Festival web site has just won the Outstanding Website WebAward in the 2004 WebAwards Competition by the Web Marketing Association, USA.)

For further enquiries, please contact Ms Katy Cheng, Marketing Manager, at tel: 2828 4930 or the following Marketing staff members:


Music/Opera:Mr Andy Yau(
 Ms Lilian Chan(
Chinese Opera/Theatre/Dance:Ms Chris Lam(
Family Entertainment:Ms Alexia Chow(

Hong Kong Arts Festival web site is developed by Ion Global and supported by IBM China/Hong Kong Ltd.
The production of the VCD/CD-ROM and CD Sampler is sponsored by Eureka Digital Ltd.


Back to Press Releases