Since 1990, the Taiwan Lantern Festival has been the nation’s most important festival. On the first full moon of the Chinese New Year, lights, lanterns, and firecrackers fill the air for a sensational experience. Making your own lantern, playing games, and enjoying live performances are only a few of the countless activities that complement the decorative lanterns at this fantastic festival. Each year the festival gets better and better and 2018 definitely has special treats in store.
This year’s festival will be absolutely groundbreaking because it’s the first tech-inspired lantern festival. Not only will the festival take place in the air, but on land and in the water as well. New materials and techniques will be a staple for the air lanterns, as they’ll display unique designs and innovative technology. The water lanterns will set various scenes using lights and water to display clouds, cherry blossoms, and other lovely landscapes. The land lanterns will tell the beautiful story of Chiayi’s history. To help you navigate the awesomeness of the festival, they’re introducing an app that will tell you everything from lantern zones to where to find the best food. This year’s festival will be BIG, and you won’t want to miss it.
One of the best parts about this festival is that it changes locations every year, so you can explore somewhere new each time you go. The 2018 Taiwan Lantern Festival will be held from March 2 – 11 in Chiayi County, and the main theme will based on this year’s zodiac animal, a dog. While most of the fun will be happening in Chiayi County, the whole country is filled with events, entertainment, and amazing food during the lantern festival. Here are some other festivals that will take places during the same times as the Taiwan Lantern Festival:
PingXi Sky Lantern Festival
Sky lanterns are all the rage in a quaint village called Ping Xi. Named one of the 10 Best Winter Trips by National Geographic, at the Sky Lantern Festival an impressive hundreds of thousands of glowing sky lanterns light up the darkness. Folk performances, street carnivals, and riddle contests set the festive atmosphere until it’s time to release the beautiful lanterns that carry wishes, dreams, and prayers into the night sky.
Tainan Yanshuei (Yanshui) Beehive Fireworks Festival
While the sky lanterns are floating up in the north, beehive fireworks are going off in the south. Ranked one of the largest folk celebrations in the world, legend has it that this tradition started as part of a prayer to Guan Di, the god of war. Multitudes would set off fireworks and follow him through the streets until dawn. Future generations joyfully carried on this tradition, and for this event palanquins carrying holy figurines form a circuit around the town. Cylinders are stuffed with bottle rockets along the route, and once the fuse is lit and the sound of angry bees erupts, hundreds of thousands of fireworks will explode in all directions. Rumor has it that the massive number of fireworks will get rid of troubles and bring good fortune in the new year.
Bombing of Master Han Dan
Fireworks in the south remain a theme for the Bombing of Master Han Dan. Known as the god of wealth, Master Han Dan is said to be the guardian of the celestial treasure. Master Han Dan and other temples gods make an annual visit, and those in Taitung City make sure he’s greeted properly. A brave volunteer will act as Master Han Dan dressed in only a headscarf, mask, and red shorts. As he’s being rolled through the streets on a cart protected only by a tree branch, your job is to stand along the procession route with offerings of fresh fruit and flowers while you throw fireworks at him to win his blessing.
Lights, food, fun, and more make Taiwan’s Lantern Festival an amazingly overwhelming adventure for all the senses. With so much going on during the festival, the pictures simply don’t do it justice, it’s something you absolutely have to experience for yourself.