Taiwan, famed for centuries as ‘Ilha Formosa’ (meaning the Beautiful Isle) is quickly becoming one of the hottest new must visit destinations, the mixture of stunning natural beauty, ancient traditions and modern sophisticated cities all packed into a gorgeous island that is small enough to be explored at ease creates an intoxicating experience.
Taiwan is also rich with culture and Taiwan’s Lantern Festival is one of the most spectacular cultural events that is worth timing your visit around. The festival is also known as ‘Yuan Xiao Jie’ and is held on the first full moon of the Chinese New Year (Lunar New Year) and is one of the largest festivals and most anticipated events in Taiwan. In 2017 the festival will be held on Saturday 11th February.
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The Taiwan Lantern Festival 2017
Every Lunar Year features a different Zodiac sign, and the one for 2017 is the rooster and each year a different city hosts the main lantern celebration based on the zodiac of the year. The host of the Lantern Festival for the forthcoming year is Yunlin County, and there, from 11th – 19th Feburary 2017, you’ll have an opportunity to see a huge, colourful rooster lantern.
The lantern festival is celebrated with light displays, lantern parades and performances by local and overseas folk groups and lots of firecrackers to end the Lunar New Year with a bang. The festival also combines traditional elements of Taiwan’s folk culture with modern technology that creates a mesmerizing experience that has lead to the Discovery Channel to rate it as one of the best festivals in the world and Fodor’s call it one of the 14 festivals that everyone should attend in their lifetime. As well as watching the displays you can also get involved with lantern-making workshops and lantern blessings.
The Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival
The Lantern Festival is celebrated throughout the whole of Taiwan, but Ping Xi, a small village that’s known for its sky lanterns, does a unique Sky Lantern Festival and is another place you should visit.
The highlight of the Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival involves hundreds of thousands of paper lanterns that are released into the night sky. It is a magnificent vision as much as it is symbolic. Colourful lanterns are decorated with various paintings and inscriptions, carrying wishes, vows and prayers of the participants to the heavens asking for their fulfillment. Just before the lanterns are released at the same time, they are lit and let to gracefully rise into the sky – it’s this moment that will remain in your mind long after the festivities have finished.
More festivals in Taiwan
And there’s more, the Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival isn’t the only popular celebration of the Lantern Festival in Taiwan, Yanshui district’s Beehive Firecrackers Festival and Bombing the Master of Han Dan are also worth experiencing.
The Yanshui Beehive Firecrackers Festival(which takes place in Tainan) is one of the largest folk festivals in the world that see’s hundreds of thousands of firecrackers go off simultaneously. It’s called “beehive” because the effect of letting off such a huge amount of firecrackers is similar to a cacophony of countless bees streaming out of their hives.
It’s an amazing experience but, as you can probably expect, can be quite deafening so if you prefer something a little kinder of your ear drums then you could attend the Bombing the Master of Han Dan Festival instead. This festival takes place in Taitung at the same time, the central figure of this celebration is the Han Dan statue, which is accompanied by a group of volunteers who are either really crazy or really brave! The statue and volunteers are bombarded with firecrackers and bottle rockets, wearing nothing but a few protective items, such as scarves, amulets and gloves. Suffice to say that few willful victims last longer than a few minutes.
Together these festivals and celebrations make for a really exciting insight into Taiwan’s rich culture and traditions. If you feel convinced to add Taiwan’s Lantern Festival on your bucket list you can find more information on the Taiwan Tourism Website.
Have you experienced the Taiwan Lantern Festival? How was it for you?
Hi, I’m Anna, I'm a dreamer, nomad and travel addict from England. I left the UK in Dec 2012 and have been traveling around India, South East Asia, Australia and Europe independently and on a budget ever since. Now I want to show you how to make travel your lifestyle too. Want to know more ...