The Forbidden City is illuminated with lights during the Lantern Festival in Beijing, Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2019. Beijing's Palace Museum was illuminated and opened for night visits to celebrate China's Lantern Festival. For the first time since it was established 94 years ago, the Palace Museum, also known as the Forbidden City, extended opening hours till nighttime and lit up part of its cultural relics buildings. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)
AP Photo/Andy Wong
Paint the palace red.
A ROYAL TREAT

In pictures: Beijing’s Forbidden City opened at night for the first time in almost a century

By Echo Huang

For the first time since its inauguration as the Palace Museum to the public 94 years ago, Beijing’s Forbidden City opened at night for the first time to the public yesterday (Feb. 19).

The palace walls were illuminated with red lanterns, as well as purple and yellow lights—considered royal colors in China—to recreate the feeling of the Forbidden City as an ancient court for Chinese emperors. The China National Traditional Orchestra and the Peking Opera also performed as part of the light show, while a digital scroll of a painting called One Thousand Li of Rivers and Mountains from the Song Dynasty was projected onto the roof (paywall) of the Forbidden City.

The Forbidden City re-opened as the Palace Museum in 1925 by the new Nationalist government following the abdication of the last Chinese emperor Puyi, and later his eviction from the complex.

The museum will open for two consecutive nights as part of a celebration of the Lantern Festival, which falls on the 15th day of the first lunar month. Admission tickets for the evenings, which were free, were snapped up within minutes of going on sale online over the weekend, when the website even crashed (link in Chinese). Only 3,000 people are admitted at night. The Palace Museum also invited 2,500 guests including ambassadors from different countries, soldiers, couriers, sanitation workers, and firefighters.

Curator Shan Jixiang said it would consider opening the museum at night (link in Chinese) during other festivals such as the Dragon Boat FestivalMid-Autumn Festival, and the Double Ninth Festival.

Here are some photos of the Palace Museum at night.

AP Photo/Andy Wong)
The painting scroll beamed into the roof of the Forbidden City.
AP Photo/Andy Wong
A Peking Opera artist performs in the Forbidden City.
EPA-EFE/How Hwee Young
The Forbidden City lit up.
EPA-EFE/How Hwee Young
Visitors take pictures of the Forbidden City at night.
AP Photo/Andy Wong
The palace illuminated with purple light.
Reuters/Jason Lee
Red lanterns lit up the Forbidden City.
AP Photo/Andy Wong
The Forbidden City illuminated with red light.
EPA-EFE/How Hwee Young
A door lit by red light in the Forbidden City.