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.
Here are some photos of the Palace Museum at night.