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Impression West Lake

Impression West Lake (印象西湖 Yìnxiàng Xī Hú /yin-sshyang sshee hoo/) is an evening spectacle of music, light, and dance, entirely staged on the beautiful West Lake in Hangzhou City, with natural mountains and real waters as its backdrop. It is one of the creations of famous Chinese director Zhang Yimou, and the music of the performance was composed by Kitaro, a world-class musician.

  • Director: Zhang Yimou
  • Type: Open-air night show with real scenery 
  • Location: The stage is on the north bank of West Lake, opposite Yuefei Temple and the Shangri-la Hotel.
  • Length: 1 hour

Another Zhang Yimou Masterpiece

This night show is directed by Zhang Yimou (张艺谋), Wang Chaoge (王潮歌), and Fan Yue (樊越), the "iron triangle" of live performance. They have directed many famous shows like Impression Liu Sanjie (in Yangshuo, Guilin) and Impression Lijiang (in Lijiang, Yunnan). It took them three years from preparation to public performance.

The song "Impression of West Lake" at the end is sang by Jane Zhang (张靓颖), a famous Chinese singer.

Live Performance on West Lake

The stage is just above the water of the lake. There are lifting platforms in the water, and hundreds of actors perform on them. You will see them dance seemingly on the lake, like fairies. The grand open-air show brings its audience into the imaginary wonders of West Lake's natural and cultural beauty. 

Five Acts Tell a Beautiful but Sad Story

Part 1. Encounter

A white crane flies in from the distance, and changes into a handsome guy. At the same time, another white crane flies in and changes into a beautiful girl. They meet each other and dance together. Their love token is an umbrella (usually a taboo token in China as ‘umbrella' is pronounced like ‘leaving' in Chinese).

Part 2. Falling in Love

They fall in love with each other. From spring to winter, the flowers bloom and fade. They walk on the bridge hand in hand, and see the fishes have fun in the lake. From day to night, they make their covenant of love. 

Part 3. Farewell

A happy time is always so fleeting... The music becomes rapid suddenly. The beautiful girl is struggling in the grip of fate, longing not to leave. With the drum beating and splashing water, the story enters the leaving scene. The girl is gone. Maybe she has turned back into a white crane and can only live in the young man's mind.

Part 4. Memory

Memory is a river, crystal clear at the source, at its end it's diluted and dispersed. In his mind, his memory begins as a crystal spring. She is gone, but the memory is still so beautiful. It's raining, and he hears her voice asking him to bring an umbrella.

Part 5. Impression

With the mood of regret and sadness, the young man comes down to earth. The love story he has abides as just an impression, seemingly no more than a dream. It will be kept in his heart forever. No matter how time flies, he will always remember the time of love.

Travel Essentials

Show Times 

April to October: 7:45–8:45

March, November, December: 7:15–8:15

Extra show: 9:15–10:15 (on public holidays)

Winter closure: January–March

Ticket Costs (per person)

impression west lake seat

Normal seat: 260 yuan (42 USD)

First five rows of seats (A1, A2, A3): 280 yuan (46 USD)

Lakeside seats: 350 yuan (57 USD)

Ground floor of the big boat: 450 yuan (73 USD)

Upper floor of the big boat: 600 yuan (97 USD)

See Impression West Lake with China Highlights

If you want to see this spectacular night show, we can help you arrange it with a Hangzhou tour. Just contact us and tailor make your own West Lake tour now!

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