As one of the most important three Taiwanese traditional festivals, Lantern Festival falls on the fifteenth day of the first lunar month (Chinese New Year), usually in February or March. Called as Yuanxiao Festival as well, people will eat YuanXiao, which is made of glutinous rice filled with red bean paste or sesame, to celebrate the reunion and harmony of their family. However, if you think that’s all, then you’re wrong! Because the grandest and the most remarkable activity is the lantern festival, whose English name is just as same as this traditional festival. With a variety of interesting and amazing art designs, activities and performances, it is promised that you could have a great time in lantern festival around Taiwan. Now, let us introduce the story of lantern festival and the activities from south Taiwan to north Taiwan then give you some ideas to plan a new year tour.
Taiwan Lantern Festival
In 1990, the government held the first Taiwan Lantern Festival, a giant outdoor exhibition, in which there are kinds of lanterns on display, in order to promote our Taiwanese folk festival and traditional cultures to other countries. From then on, holding Taiwan Lantern Festival has been a yearly routine. Each of city in Taiwan takes a turn to be the organizer so that there will be a balanced development. As a result, depending on different cities, the mix of local custom, theme lantern and soundtrack has gradually been a feature. For example, as an organizer, Yilan used the sound of afternoon thunderstorm as their beginning while Chiayi chose “Gan Shang Ching”（高山青） as their soundtrack, which mainly praises the magnificence of Ali Mountain and the story of aboriginals.
In 2007, Discovery Channel selected Taiwan Lantern Festival as one of the best worldwide festivals, moreover, they even assign a professional shooting team to Taiwan to make a record. How glad is it, right?
In 2017, Taiwan Lantern Festival was held in Yunlin (south of Taiwan). With two big areas and over three thousand lanterns, Taiwan Lantern Festival in this year has the wildest venue and the most lantern decorations. In addition, there are puppets with the height up to 8 meters showing the local puppetry characteristic. It’s really a feast combined with the arts of sound, light, and movement.
Every year, the theme lantern is always the main issue which draws the attention of people and the report of every media. To express the tradition of Taiwanese culture, the theme lantern is absolutely themed with the Chinese zodiac of the current year, and its base is designed in the shape of the eight diagram（八卦）. Moreover, the government will give out free handheld small lanterns every year, making everyone immersed in the joy of Lantern Festival.
Of course, the lighting ceremony is a highlight as well. At a chosen auspicious time, the organizer will invite the president, the mayor, and other guests to count down with the public together.
In 2018, Taiwan Lantern Festival will be held in Chiayi. However, if it’s not convenient for you to join the event, don’t feel upset too early as there are also other lantern festivals around Taiwan, which are brilliant as well. Let’s move on to see the kinds of lantern festivals!
2018 Taiwan Lantern Festival in Chiayi
As mentioned above, Taiwan Lantern Festival will be held in Chiayi in 2018. This year, the type of the theme lantern is a Tsou（鄒族） child living in Alishan and a Taiwanese dog companying beside, with the topic of “Loyalty”（忠義天成）. The coolest thing is that the lovely aboriginal boy will wave his hand to greet the public. Besides, the handheld small lantern is also in the shape of Taiwanese doggie, named as “Dali Dog”（達力狗）. Come and get a free “Dali Dog” lantern in front of Chiayi Country Government at 3 p.m. every day!
- Date: 3/2 – 3/13
- Location: No.1, E. Sec., Sianghe 1st Rd., Taibao City, Chiayi Country
2018 Taipei Lantern Festival | 2018 Happiness GO GO（2018幸福GO GO）
In fact, in the beginning, Taiwan Lantern Festival was held in Taipei several times. Then, after other cities started to hold the activity by turns, Taipei government decided to hold Taipei Lantern Festival consistently. In other words, the lantern festival in Taipei also has a long history. And in 2018, “GO GO” of the name of this year’s lantern festival is pronounced like “dog”（狗） in Chinese, as well as the Chinese zodiac this year. Of course, the theme lantern is in Taiwanese dog’s shape. Secretly tell you, there are silhouettes of some popular Taiwan attractions, so if you have a chance to take a look, guess what those Taiwan attractions are?
The most important is that Taipei Lantern Festival has a special gift for the public! If you have played the mobile game – Pokemon Go, you must know who it is – Pikachu（ピカチュウ）. This year, the Pokemon Go official company will prepare 6 Pikachu in a real version, whose size is even bigger than a man. On 2/24, the 6 Pikachu will have a great performance on the lighting ceremony. Besides, on 3/3, they will also appear on the parade, in which there are over one thousand people join every year. How exciting it is! Why not take your family here and catch the real Pikachu!
- Date: 2/24 – 3/4
- Location: Chengdu Rd., Wanhua Dist., Taipei City（MRT: Ximen Station）
2018 New Taipei City Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival | Hello Pingxi!（Hello平溪!）
Have you ever heard “Beehive Fireworks in the south, sky lantern in the north.”, an old saying in Taiwan? It mainly says that on Lantern Festival, these two famous activities are the must do in Taiwan. Maybe you have heard or seen the sky lantern, but do you know the origin? Dating back to Qing Dynasty, the terrain of Pingxi was closed for transportation, and there were robbers making troubles frequently. Therefore, the residents in Pingxi launched sky lanterns to announce their safety. The custom passed down and now becomes a hot activity among tourists both local and abroad. A thing making Taiwanese proud is that in 2013, the world’s biggest travel publisher – Fodor’s listed Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival as one of “14 must go destinations before death”, ranking with Brazilian Carnival, German Oktoberfest, Spanish Running of the Bulls, and etc.
This year, the organizer of Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival invites the most popular Sanrio （サンリオ）superstars, such as Hello Kitty and Pum Pum Purin. Hidden in 9 different tourist spots in Pingxi, they are waiting for you to catch them!
If you plan to travel in Pingxi during Lantern Festival, launching the sky lantern will be a must not miss part of your trip. On 3/2, free sky lantern tickets will be handed out at 10:00. Then, from 17:30 to 20:00, the sky lanterns will be launched for 8 times. It’s absolutely a unique chance for you to experience the spectacular image of hundreds of sky lanterns flying in the sky.
- Date: 3/2
- Location: Shifen Square, Pingxi, New Taipei City
2018 Taoyuan Lantern Festival | Snoopy in Taoyuan（溪旺桃園水漾慶豐年ｘSnoopy史努比）
Having a history of 15 years, Taoyuan Lantern Festival was mainly for welcoming the god of fortune, but now many tourists visit for recreation. Along Nan-Kan River, there are four areas of activity including San-Min Park and Star Moon Bridge. No matter the days this activity goes and the size of the venue is much more than those before. In addition to the stunning view of lanterns which extends long as 8 kilometers, this year, to meet 2018’s Chinese zodiac, a cartoon doggie star – Snoopy, which must be known to adults and kids, will celebrate the pageant with the public! Welcome and take pictures with the superstar and the magnificent Taiwan attraction.
- Date: 2/24 – 3/4
- Location: 4 areas including San-Min Park, Guishan Star Moon Bridge, Luzhu Bamboo Dream Bridge and Bian-Chou Beauty Bridge, Taoyuan City
2018 Central Taiwan Lantern Festival | Welcome the fortune with happiness（喜迎來富）
From 1999, Central Taiwan Lantern Festival has been held, so that residents living in Central Taiwan could celebrate Lantern Festival more conveniently. In 2018, the theme lanterns are two Taiwanese dogs, a male dog named “Fu”（福旺中臺） and a female dog named “Shiang”（祥旺花都）for the purpose of wishing Central Taiwan could get blessing and peace for a whole year. Why not come and enjoy the happiness with the locals?
- Date: 2/24 – 3/11
- Location: Taichung Park and Taichung City Seaport Art Center
2018 Tainan Yuejin Lantern Festival
Entering the sixth years, Yuejin Lantern Festival is said to be the grandest and romantic festival in south Taiwan. It’s because that the romantic lanterns in Yuejin Seaport are far different from those in traditional lantern festival. In addition to their unique styles, the most special part is that the topic of these lanterns isn’t following the Chinese zodiac this year as other lantern festivals.
In 2018, the theme of Yuejin Lantern Festival is “meeting”, mainly meaning a boy and a girl having a date. The Tainan government invites many modern artists, who are professional in techniques and new media art, to join the contest. Hence, if you wanna see a different kind of Taiwan Lantern Festival, we sincerely recommend Yuejin Lantern Festival for you.
- Date: 2/10～3/4
- Location: Yuejin Seaport, Yanshui Dist., Tainan
2018 Kaohsiung Lantern Festival
Ranking with Taiwan Lantern Festival and Taipei Lantern Festival as the three main Lantern Festival in Taiwan, during every Chinese New Year, there are lots of tourists local and abroad especially head down to Kaohsiung for this great activity. Kaohsiung Lantern Festival is full of local characteristics, with a great mixture of the scenery of waterfront and river port and the cultural arts. With Kaohsiung Lantern Festival held bigger and bigger, there are more and more multiple performances to please the visitors.
The must not miss in 2018 Kaohsiung Lantern Festival is of course nightly light show, a six-minute display of laser lights and perfectly timed pyrotechnics. Beside this Taiwan’s first light and laser show on the water, you should join the parade of light on 3/2, which are usually celebrated with thousands of people every year. There will be 50 performing groups, such as drama and dancing, from both local and abroad. You will absolutely have a wonderful time here!
- Date: 2/18～3/3
- Location: Both riverside along Love River, Kaohsiung