Information and photos provided by Taiwan Tourism Bureau
An unforgettable Taiwanese tradition in which thousands of bright lanterns light up every corner of the country!
In order to promote Taiwan’s tourism in the global community and to attract more foreign visitors to the country, Tourism Bureau, MOTC has held the Taiwan Lantern Festival in recent years with the idea of “spreading the roots of folk culture while holding traditional festivals at an international level.”
And for the year 2019, the Taiwan Lantern Festival will be hosted in Pingtung,southern Taiwan starting from 2/19 to 3/3.
Lantern parades are traditionally held on Lantern Day. Combining traditional culture with cutting edge technology, the Taiwan Lantern Festival presents itself as a top-notch festival compatible with its international counterparts. The main lantern area is so beautiful that it is nearly impossible to appreciate everything at once. Local and overseas folk troupes dedicate their remarkable performances to the festival’s goers. Many other performance groups also perform their impressive shows for the audience. The festival has been hailed by local participants and foreign guests alike for its celebration of Taiwanese culture.
Besides the Taiwan Lantern Festival hosted by Tourism Bureau, there are variety of conventional events to celebrate the festival. Take two iconic events as examples, Pingxi, a town in the northern Taiwan, is well-known for the special sky lantern. And a town, Yanshui, in southern Taiwan has a pretty exciting and must-go-to event called “Beehive Fireworks.”
When is the Taiwan Lantern Festival?
This holiday is celebrated on the 15th day of the first Lunar month. The 15th day is the first night after Chinese New Year when there is a full moon, and marks the culmination of the New Year festivities. According to the Chinese tradition, at the very beginning of a New Year, when there is a bright full moon hanging in the sky, there should be thousands of colorful lanterns hung out for people to appreciate. During this holiday time, people will try to solve the riddles on the lanterns and eat Tang Yuan and get all their families united in the joyful atmosphere.
History of the Lantern Festival
The Taiwan Lantern Festival is an ancient tradition, and as such, there are several different supposed origins of the Festival. One legend states that the first lantern festival took place during the Han Dynasty, about two thousand years ago. The legend goes that during the reign of Emperor Wu there was a palace maid named Yuansiao, whose role forbid her from ever seeing her family. This made her very homesick. A minister from the palace took pity on her and came up with a plan to reunite the maid with her parents for one night of the year. He told the emperor that the God of Heaven was displeased and would destroy the city by fire unless lanterns were hung throughout the city on his birthday. On this night, servants and maids were to be permitted to leave the palace to help take part in the ritual, giving Yuansiao one evening each year to be with her family. It has been celebrated as the birthday of the God of Heaven (Shang Yuan Jie), since the Tang dynasty (AD618-907).
How is the Lantern Festival celebrated?
These days, the Lantern Festival is an important occasion for family meetings and reunions. Parks across Taiwan become an amazing sight with numerous huge lanterns depicting anything from the current zodiac animal to scenes from traditional Chinese folk stories and more contemporary scenes. School children also make many more smaller-sized lanterns, adding to the spectacle of the evening. The Lantern Festival shows the true spirit of Taiwan as floating lanterns carry the prayers and vows of its people across the starry night sky. Folk performances, lantern riddle contests, and street carnivals also accompany the event, but the true draw comes from the thousands of glowing lanterns carrying hopes and dreams into a new year. Lanterns are prepared beforehand by writing or drawing prayers, hopes, and wishes so that the coming year will bring happiness and prosperity.
Pingtung, this year’s host city
Located inTaiwan’s southernmost county, Pingtung covers a long and narrow territory with a border defined by mountains to the north, the Pacific Ocean to the east, the Taiwan Strait to the west, and the Bashi Channel to the south. Due to its subtropical location, Pingtung enjoys spring-like weather all year round. Pingtung is home to Kenting National Park, Taiwan’s first National Park. Other must-see attractions here include the island Eden of Xiaoliuqiu, the scenic forest-hemmed highways, Dapeng Bay National Scenic Area, Maolin National Scenic Area, and Taiwan’s best paragliding area, Saijia Air Park. Coastal areas in Pingtung are excellent choices for coastal recreation, whether donning a snorkel to explore the beauty of the corals or hunting for shells on the beach. Pingtung is also a wintering stop for migratory birds, including shrikes, and in October, grayfaced buzzards, making this a good spot to enjoy the avian ecology. And if you like to gaze at the stars, the light pollution-free night skies over the Pingbei foothills offer the perfect tapestry to indulge. The local indigenous culture is also well worth experiencing. Pingtung has a number of local specialties. Linbian Township is known for its juicy and sweet black pearl wax apple, Wanluan for its tasty and chewy pig’s feet, and Donggang for melt-in-your-mouth bluefin tuna. The coffee of Dewen, onions of Checheng and Hengchun, and preserved dates of Gaoshu are other delicious must-try treats. For recreation or dining fun, Taiwan’s southern border is hard to beat!
Where is Pingtung?
Pingtung is located at the southernmost tip of Taiwan, covering the area on the east side of Banpingshan, Kaohsiung. The total area of Pingtung County is the narrowest county in western Taiwan. Pingtung is the only county in Taiwan that faces the Pacific Ocean, the Bashi Channel, and the Taiwan Strait, boasting a magnificent landscape of mountains and seas and nurturing.
Based on the benefits from the ocean and the land, Pingtung is famous for its fishing industry and agriculture. Thus, one of the iconic lanterns this year will be a well-made lantern featuring abundant island images. Ocean raises the island while island protects the ocean at the same time. Some other lanterns will also design under this concept. Thirty celebrities will be invited to co-design the lantern to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the festival.
More Pingtung Attractions In 2019
The attraction which one would regret missing! In addition to the Lantern Festival, there are several other festivals Pingtung is never complete without visiting Kenting. In addition to Kenting, Pingtung has 33 towns and cities from the north to south. Each township has its own unique sights, and only locals know how to get around. Those who enjoy traveling and checking out attractions should not miss them.
Sizhongxi Hot Spring Season at Checheng Township
Since there is a natural hot spring that flows out of the ground in Sizhongxi, it was called “Hot spring” in ancient times. As Sizhongxi is located in a basin surrounded by rims, with rivers running through it, residents in earlier times went in and out by wading in four bending rivers, commonly known as the “Sizhongxi (meaning four bending rivers). November to March is the peak season for winter tourism. Visitors who wish to enjoy hot springs in winter usually visit during this time.
Pingtung Tropical Agriculture Expo
The annual Pingtung Tropical Agriculture Expo (1/29-2/17) is a must-go event for Pingtung County residents. Apart from displaying the agricultural achievements of Pingtung County, the venue also includes special topics such as the Spring Flowers, Fantasy Garden, Orchid Art Museum, Food and Farming Experience Area, Aboriginal Specialties, Aquatic Product Hall, Artistic Potted Plant Exhibition, Vanilla Story Area, Hakka Cacao Hall, Fruit Park, and Land Art Area, which represents a full collection of agriculture, fishing, animal husbandry and leisure tourism industry. The exhibition coincides with the Chinese New Year and is great for family travel.
The Ceremony of Peace and Tranquility for Welcoming the Lords
The triennial “ Ying Wang Festival” has become an event for almost the whole town. The “King Boat Burning” ceremony has even pushed the atmosphere of this religious activity to the highest peak, creating a ceremonial culture known throughout Taiwan. The residents of Donggang, who rely on the sea for their livelihood, believe that as long as they worship piously, Neptunian God Wen will surely bless the entire township. As Donglong Temple Ying Wang Ping’an Jidian shoulders the task of praying for blessings and prevent disasters, they are obliged to abide by the rituals and ceremonies passed down during the Qingling Period. The festivals not only take a long time and are large in scale but also are always filled with solemn religious atmosphere.
Pingtung Spring Music Events
In April, Pingtung’s spring music activities are alive and well. From the north to the south, there are traditional folk songs, aboriginal concerts, spring screams and other music events. Pingtung’s spring sky is haunted with the sensational music. The performers scream happily on the stage, while the fans sit on the ground or dance with music. All of them are absorbed in the music. “Being away from stress”, “Lazy” and “Close to nature” are the most essential elements of Spring Scream.