Taiwan’s Lantern Festival
Creates a Colorful World
Sending a message of Love and PeaceBy: Lisa Crawford
The 2016 Taiwan Lantern Festival will celebrate the Year of the Monkey with the theme “Golden Monkey Offering Peaches.” The Taiwan Tourism Bureau will present the festival’s main and secondary lanterns along with the Welcome Lantern Area, Blessing Lantern Forest, Theme Lantern Curtain, Exchange Lantern Area, Competition Lantern Area, Traditional Lantern Area and Joyous Lantern Area. The Taoyuan City Government will bring light and shadow together at the “Smart Technology Lantern Area” highlighting Taoyuan’s smart city image. The city is also planning the dream-like “Fairytale Kingdom Lantern Area” highlighting local tourism factory attractions and the the 500-plus-meter long “Taoyuan Story Lantern Corridor.” There will also be a “Diverse Exchange Lantern Area,” a friendly city exchange display joined by the renowned Lamigo baseball team and fusing elements from the diverse ethnic groups in Taoyuan, while the “New Peach Blossom Spring Lantern Area” will present a spectacular show of landscape art at scenic Qingtang Park. Local and international friends are all welcome to join the fun and experience the charms of Taoyuan during the Taiwan Lantern Festival.
The 15th day of the first lunar month, known as “Minor New Year,” is the Lantern Festival and the tail end of New Year activities. Traditionally, firecrackers and colorful fireworks are set off and hand-held lanterns or torches are lit. Revelers come from around the world to feast on rice dumplings and welcome in the New Year. The Lantern Festival is now is entering its 24th year. Aside from the main theme lanterns whose form is based on the Chinese zodiac animal of the particular year, there is a diverse display of lantern art, such as festive lanterns that reflect the different culture and customs of local villages from all over Taiwan. In 2007 the Discovery Channel referred to the Taiwan Lantern Festival as one of the best holiday celebration events in the world. The Lantern Festival is the perfect time to not only admire lanterns, but also experience an opening day for famous Taiwanese and foreign performing groups who come to put on a brilliant show!
With Taoyuan City hosting the 2016 edition of the festival, Mayor Cheng Wen-tsan accepted the traditional lantern and vowed to take the event to new heights. “Taichung did a great job and we hope to deliver an even better performance.”
Tradition tells us the “sky lantern” was invented during the Three Kingdoms period (AD 220-265) by Zhuge Liang. The lanterns were originally a means of military communication and now generally recognized as the earliest form of hot air balloons. The Lantern Festival was brought to Taiwan around the beginning of the 19th century, where every year, at the beginning of the spring planting season, people would release “sky lanterns” into the air as a prayer for the coming year. Sky lanterns were released to follow the wind, rising up to the ancestors to report that all was well and to pray for blessings. Slowly this evolved to become a local event for the Yuanxiao Festival in the Pingxi area. For many years the “Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival” has had a brilliant history. In addition to enjoying its reputation as part of the traditional description of this Yuanxiao or Lantern Festival in Taiwan—“Sky lanterns in the north, beehive fireworks in the south.”—the Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival helps promote the spirit of Taiwan to the world. In addition to the folk performances, lantern riddle contests, and street folk carnivals that are organized every year, the sky lanterns carrying prayers aloft remain the focal point of the entire event. Once lit, the lanterns slowly rise, and the flames of prayer dance in the air as the lanterns turn the night sky of this mountain town into an expanse of unimaginable beauty. The visual enjoyment of his fantastic and magnificent sight transcends cultural barriers so when festival time arrives each year, Pingxi is always overwhelmed with visitors.
To plan your winter holiday travel to Taiwan, or for more information about Taiwan, please visit: http://www.taiwan.net.tw/2016taiwanlantern