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Formerly the westernised face of the Chinese cultural world, Hong Kong remains theoretically China’s most accessible territory, though the repressive influence of Beijing has very clearly increased in recent years, and the world’s strictest Covid travel restrictions have entirely stemmed the flow of international shows since March 2020.
Tragedy also struck in July when a giant video screen crashed onto the stage during a performance at the Hong Kong Coliseum by Cantopop boy band Mirror, injuring two dancers, one severely.
The venue, one of Hong Kong’s busiest, remained closed at the time of writing, the incident only adding to the drama and uncertainty of the live business in Hong Kong.
In a bitter twist, Mirror have been a source of Cantonese pride in a city riven first by anti-government protests and then by strict Covid controls, which have in turn contributed to an unprecedented exodus. The city’s total population has fallen from 7.41m people to 7.29m in a year – a third straight year of decline, and the biggest fall on record.
“For 2023, we believe travel restrictions and border control measures will be relaxed. International and Asia tours, hopefully, will be resuming in full”
So no one quite knows what the future holds for Hong Kong, but in the short term, the wheels are moving again: Avril Lavigne is booked in to AsiaWorld-Expo in November, book- ended by various large-scale shopping and expo events, after a year of local B2B and family entertainment shows.
The city’s biggest indoor arena, with a capacity of 14,000 for concerts, AsiaWorld-Expo has been a major hub for international shows since its opening in 2005. OneDirection fans may remember it as the location of Zayn Malik’s final show with the band in March 2015, and The 1975, Troye Sivan, the Pet Shop Boys, Guns N’ Roses, The Killers, and Bruno Mars were among the major international acts who played there in 2018/19.
“Organisers are geared up to resume event booking and gradually putting the business back on track,” says a spokesperson for the venue. “For 2023, we believe travel restrictions and border control measures will be relaxed. International and Asia tours, hopefully, will be resuming in full, and a fully packed event calendar is expected by then.”
The city’s biggest indoor arena, with a capacity of 14,000 for concerts, AsiaWorld-Expo has been a major hub for international shows since its opening in 2005.
A HK$600m (€74m) venue-wide renovation project was kickstarted last year at AsiaWorld-Expo, including a new retractable riser system, a fully renovated and enlarged backstage area, and new acoustic panels in the main hall.
But the most significant upgrade is yet to come under new sole owner Airport Authority Hong Kong, which plans the construction of HK’s largest indoor multipurpose entertainment arena, with a capacity of up to 20,000. The Hong Kong Coliseum, which opened in 1983, is a multipurpose indoor arena that hosts international sports and mainly local concerts and can accommodate around 12,500 spectators.