Top 10 Night Shows in China

Top 10 Night Shows in China
By Michael Hu

Watching a night show can play a very important role in your travel experience. It will fulfill your night time and help you to relax after a long day’s travel. It’s another window into the local arts, history, stories, people and their lives. You will get to learn and appreciate the various cultures. Watching a night show could be another highlight of your travel experience.

There are different types of night shows in China, such as Kung Fu, local opera, ‘impression series’, and acrobatics. China Educational Tours have selected the 10 top rated night shows based on customers’ interests and feedback. These fabulous shows are located in different travel destinations. Please feel free to consult your tour guide and book directly with them.

1. The Legend of Kung Fu

The Legend of Kung Fu

The Legend of Kung Fu is a live performance presented by the Red Theatre. It tells the story about a little boy from a very poor family who dreams of becoming a Kung Fu master. The little boy was initiated into the temple and given the name Chun Yi which means Pure One. Chun Yi was a diligent student monk, and learned Buddhism, Zen and Kung Fu. The story was about the trials and tribulations of being a monk and the worldly temptations through his monkhood and finally coming back full circle to be the temple abbot. The highlight of the show is the Kung Fu part, the likes of which you have never seen in your lifetime!

2. Impression Sanjie Liu

Impression Sanjie Liu

This is not a performance which you have ever seen before in any typical theater. It’s an outdoor show which is performed on the Li River. With the 12 mountains as the backdrop, 2 square meters of water area as the platform, and more than 600 actors and actresses, these have been listed as the biggest stage on Guinness World Records. The director is Mr. Zhang Yimou, he is the same guy who directed the opening ceremony of the 2008 Olympic Games. The story is based on the legend of folk song singer Sanjie Liu. The show uses the image of a traditional Chinese painting (with waters and mountains), the rhythms of local songs, and different folk events to express the minority people’s daily life.

“One can only appreciate Impression Sanjie Liu here. It is worth flying from any corner in the world to enjoy it.”-- Hashi Verma. Asia Pacific Director, World Tourism Organization.

3. ERA – Intersection of Time

ERA Shanghai

The Multimedia Theatrical Spectacular 'ERA Intersection of Time' has been repeatedly performed since its debut at Shanghai Circus World in September, 2005. The performers present Chinese acrobatics, and martial arts, and they dance perfectly in harmony with the music, sound, lighting, and other special effects, which includes a water screen.

‘Jar Juggling’: Originating from the Han Dynasty (206CE-220CE), the act matches the history of the white and blue patterned porcelain jar as well as the terracotta soldiers in the background scenes. Throwing, catching, kicking, tossing…the artist plays the jars just like an NBA sportsman plays his basketball.

'Space Motorcycles' is another highlight of the show. There are 8 ‘Terracotta Warriors dressed’ actors who run a motor race in an iron and steel globe with a diameter of 6.8 meters. They keep driving and changing the directions from time to time. They drive the audience crazy and bring the show to a happy ending.

4. Tang Dynasty Show

Tang Dynasty Show

The Tang Dynasty lasted from 618CE to 907CE It was the golden age in China's history. Xi'an is the ancient capital city of the Tang Dynasty. The Tang Dynasty Dance is the symbol of the flourishing culture of the Dynasty. The show is a different way to get to know the history and culture of ancient Xian city.

The story is about the only Empress in China's history, Wu Zetian. It showcases the timeline of her life from 14 years old when she stepped into the Palace, until 67 years old when she became the Empress. Follow the five sections of the show, and see how she became the most powerful lady in the Tang Dynasty.

The show is spectacular, with elaborate costumes and wigs, coordinated with striking digital backdrops, and accompanied by a live orchestra. The state of the art stage design and the songs and dance makes the audience experience the glory and splendor of the Tang Dynasty.

5. Peking Opera, Liyuan Theatre

Peking Opera

Peking Opera, or Beijing opera, is the nationwide opera in China. Having a history of more than 200 years, it is regarded as an "Intangible Cultural Heritage" of China, as declared by UNESCO in 2010. Peking Opera itself absorbed many other dramatic forms, including the local drama 'Huiban' which was popular in South China during the 18th century.

The characters in the drama fit into a number of very specific roles. As the art form developed they were divided into four main roles. The four basic roles, each of which has a number of subtypes, are Sheng (male), Dan (female), Jing (painted face), and Chou (male clown). Each character type has its own set of performance conventions.

Facial make-up, costumes, staging and music are the most important roles of the Peking Opera performance. If you get there early, you will have a chance to watch one of the actors put on his make-up and costume which is really fascinating.

6. Impression Lijiang

Impression Lijiang

This is another masterpiece of the 'Impression Series'. It's the same director with the opening ceremony of 2008 Olympic Games, the world-famous Mr. Zhang Yimou. It's an outdoor performance with the breath-taking Jade Dragon Snow Mountain as the backdrop, the highest stage with the altitude of 3,100 meters.

There are more than 500 dancers in total, as well as horses, but they are all locals, not professional actors. They are from 16 different local minority villages. The minority groups are very enthusiastic in introducing their own special culture. The dances and songs themselves are mesmerizing to watch and it tells the story of the lives and customs of the different tribes in Yunnan. Their enthusiasm and performance could easily catch your eye.

As it is outdoors, typically around midday, beware of the strong sun at high altitude so take a wide brimmed hat, sunglasses and sunscreen. Also beware that the show is weather permitting, we recommend checking the weather forecast in advance.

7. Sichuan Opera, Shu Feng Ya Yun Teahouse

Sichuan Opera

Located in the Chengdu Culture Park, Shu Feng Ya Yun Teahouse was first opened in 1998. It's a typical tea house with rich Chinese cultural element decorations: red lanterns, old style round table & chairs, beautiful doors with woodcarving and a traditional stage. Sichuan Opera is popular in southwestern China, especially in Sichuan, Chongqing, Guizhou, and parts of Yunnan province. The opera is a good window into the old history, tradition and culture of a country, and especially in those places.

The show includes different types of performance of this area. The highlights are Sichuan Opera, hand-puppets, spitting fire, rolling light, face changing, acrobatics and local comedy. Last but not least, the dazzling set design and colorful costumes are another symbol of the rich culture of southwestern China.

If you’ve booked VIP seating, sink into a luxurious chair and enjoy a relaxing massage and ear grooming session before the show starts. Chinese tea will be served at your table.

8. Enduring Memories of Hangzhou

Enduring Memories of Hangzhou

Previously named ‘Impression Hangzhou’, this is one of the ‘Impression Series’ which are directed by Zhang Yimou’s team. “Enduring Memories of Hangzhou” was tailor made for the G20 Summit which was held in 2016, and it has continued as a commercial show.

The big stage is on the West Lake and there are hundreds of performers. The director combines the front-projected holographic display with the natural beautiful landscape of the West Lake. While this show includes a lot of western music as well as Chinese, it is in no sense a "typical" show. It is nonetheless excellent and worth seeing! The show includes many different elements, including ballet dancers dancing in a 0.1 inches of water, accompanied by holographic dancers, traditional Chinese music and a beautiful light show. Furthermore, they moved the lifting stage into the water. There are tremendous structures which are part of the set "buried" in the lake, and some rise up out of the water at various points in the show.

It’s highly recommended that you get a VIP ticket which will give you a good view of the show and a closer look at the performers.

9. Youjian Pingyao Live Show

Youjian Pingyao Live Show

Youjian Pingyao is an incredible interactive theatre performance piece in Pingyao. It is beautifully designed and choreographed. Different from the other 'Impression' shows which take advantage of the natural outdoor scenery of their respective locations, the indoor Pingyao version comes across as being far more intimate and interactive. There are no seats in the theatre, so the audiences have to stand around in the first hour. They are going to be walking through from one set to another when the actors just jump out from the scene.

The show tells the dramatic story of an escort agency tasked with rescuing the last heir to a large business who had been kidnapped for ransom. You can walk around and practically enter the set. One is how the warriors are recruited and left their wives; one is a busy market street, with people shouting out their wares, pickpockets stealing money and being chased down the road, and women hanging out washing to dry. There are funny and also tragic parts to the play, and a moving finish. It feels like you are being transported back in time to the ancient town of Pingyao.

10. Tianmen Fox Fairy Show

Tianmen Fox Fairy Show

Tianmen Fox Fairy Show is a fascinating outdoor show which is located in Zhangjiajie. The director takes advantage of the natural outdoor scenery of Tianmen Mountain with the cliffs and peaks and makes it as the backdrop. Actually they light up a lot of mountains during the show.

It is a romantic story of a fairy fox and a woodsman. The size of the stage is close to 10,000 square meters. There are even some wooden houses on the stage. It’s like a window through which you can learn more about the minority culture of the local people. There are at least 400 performances to act on the storyline. The singing, dancing, sound, lighting, special effects and water effects are really outstanding. This show makes the Tianmen Mountains come alive at night!

If you are visiting in November and early December, you are advised to wear thicker clothes as it is outdoors and quite cold.

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