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 January 22, 2004
Cathay Pacific International Chinese New Year Night Parade In Hong Kong

 The Year of the Monkey was celebrated with glittering excitement today (22 January) as the 2004 Cathay Pacific International Chinese New Year Night Parade - Hong Kong's first-ever Lunar New Year night parade - added a dazzling fusion of color and light to the already awesome night-time vistas of Hong Kong, entertaining more than 280,000 spectators in Tsim Sha Tsui, as well as 340 million more around the world through live and delayed broadcast.

Organised by the Hong Kong Tourism Board (HKTB), with Cathay Pacific Airways as the title sponsor for the sixth consecutive year, the International Chinese New Year Night Parade took place in the evening for the first time in its nine-year history. It also followed a completely new route in Tsim Sha Tsui, with the perfect setting of Hong Kong's world famous Victoria Harbour and festive skyline.

The colorful spectacle featured a total of 17 international performing groups - the largest-ever number - coming from Australia, Canada, China, Germany, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, the United Kingdom and the United States, 11 of which made their first appearance in Hong Kong. The spectacular multimedia performance that featured traditional Chinese and international elements, illuminated floats, music, interactive elements and special lighting effects represented Hong Kong's attempt to set new world standards for night parades.

The Parade also provided a platform for the performing groups to showcase their home cultures in front of the global media and audiences. The HKTB has brought in over 100 international media guests from 15 markets to cover the Parade and related activities. For the first time, the Board arranged satellite uplink, enabling broadcasters globally to receive the Parade footage. The event was televised live in Hong Kong on Television Broadcasts Limited (TVB)'s Jade Channel and was relayed by Shanghai TV through its satellite network to TV stations across Mainland China. Together with the broadcast by 12 overseas TV stations, an estimated 340 million TV viewers worldwide shared the thrill and excitement of the Parade, confirming Hong Kong's status as the focus of Chinese New Year celebrations worldwide.

Tonight's opening ceremony was performed by Hong Kong's Chief Secretary for Administration, The Hon Mr. Donald Tsang, GBM, JP. He was joined by the Secretary for Economic Development and Labour, The Hon Mr. Stephen Ip, GBS, JP; HKTB Chairman The Hon Mrs. Selina Chow, GBS, OBE, JP; Director and Chief Operating Officer of title sponsor Cathay Pacific Airways, Mr. Philip Chen, SBS, JP; Commissioner for Tourism, Ms Eva Cheng, JP and HKTB Executive Director Ms Clara Chong.

To make this unprecedented night parade truly spectacular, the HKTB invited from Australia the performance consultant for the 2000 Sydney and 2004 Athens Olympic Games to advise on the lighting effects and presentation of the Parade, which was presented in five major themes to highlight the diversity of Hong Kong.

The 'Hong Kong Dazzles' segment began with projection of powerful beams of light onto the sky, followed by a dazzling lighting dance synchronised with music. 'Hong Kong Glitters' featured a combination of computer lights, gobos and lasers that symbolised the stunning night views of Hong Kong, the Pearl of the Orient. The city's world famous Victoria Harbour was recreated during the 'Hong Kong Shimmers' segment, when lighting projected on a blue shimmering cloth created the effects of ocean waves. 'Hong Kong Shines' showcased the city's hospitality as lighting illuminated the smiling faces of audiences, with torches waving in their hands. In the final segment 'Hong Kong Sparkles', brief sparkles evolved to become flashes of lights. Along with close proximity fireworks that resembled flying fishes, they ignited the sky above the harbour.

This lighting fantasia was extended to the entire parade route through the use of lasers, powerful searchlights and spotlights as well as a giant lighting globe of a type never seen before in outdoor parades around the world. The special lighting effects included an array of colors on Canton Road created by powerful spotlights; an archway of lights on Kowloon Park Drive created by 40 searchlights; and shafts of lights at the junction of Salisbury Road and Kowloon Park Drive created by a lighting globe of five metres in diameter and about 700 bulbs. By combining these lighting effects for the procession, the HKTB aimed to create world-class standards for night parades.

The elaborately decorated and illuminated floats will again be on public display in New World Plaza between 23 and 25 January from 12:00 noon to 9:00 pm (until 7:00 pm on 23 January). Some of the international performing groups will also entertain the audience on 23 and 24 January 2004.

The 2004 Cathay Pacific International Chinese New Year Night Parade is the fifth mega-event of the HKTB's Global Tourism Revival Campaign - a key element of the SAR Government's economic re-launch strategies -- and is designed to lure more visitors to Hong Kong so as to sustain the tourism revival.