The Taiwanese love to celebrate and the country has a jam packed events calendar. These are the top festivals you don’t want to miss.
At the tail end of the New Year celebrations, the skies around Taiwan are filled with brightly coloured lanterns, fireworks and firecrackers to mark the annual Lantern Festival. The festival falls on the first full moon of the lunar new year and country towns compete for the honour of hosting it each year. In 2017 it will be held in Yunlin an agricultural region known for its fresh produce in the west of the country. Popular sites in the region include the Green Tunnel, a two-kilometre road completely covered by lush mango trees, and the beautiful Sun Moon Lake, the largest body of water in Taiwan. Just over the border is Changhua, home to the town of Tianwei that’s famous for Taiwan’s largest garden. It will also host the Bonsai Club International Convention in 2017.
While the main event will be in Yunlin, the Lantern Festival is celebrated all over the country.
In the north, the Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival sees hundreds of thousands of rice paper lanterns carrying handwritten wishes and blessings released into the sky. The festival dates back to the 19th century when people would release the lanterns into the sky at the beginning of the spring planting season as a prayer for the coming year.
The Yanshuei Beehive Fireworks Festival in the south of Taiwan is the third largest folk celebration in the world. A parade of palanquins circling the city, setting off thousands of rockets that create a deafening bee-like buzzing sound. This ‘baptism of fireworks’ is supposed to ward off troubles and bring good fortune for the year.
Bombing Master Handan in Taitung is a unique festival with complex origins. It centres around Master Handan who was, depending on which legend you believe, one of the five gods of wealth or the god of gangsters and hooligans. Firecrackers are thrown at around 40 people representing Handan, sitting atop bamboo chairs.
The Lantern Festival marks an incredible time to be in Taiwan. Major news outlets like CNN, Discovery and National Geographic have consistently rated the festivals among the most glamorous and exciting in the world.
TAIPEI 101 COUNTDOWN, NEW YEAR’S EVE
Ring in the New Year with the best fireworks display in the country, set off from the top of the 509-metre Taipei 1010 tower. CNN called it one of the world’s top 10 NYE destinations.
Dragon Boat Festival,
One of Taiwan’s 12 major festivals, the Dragon Boat Festival in the old city of Lukang draws thousands of spectators who loudly cheer on the dragon boat teams racing on the river. You’ll also find food stalls, cultural exhibitions, games, music and more. It is a traditional celebration throughout the island country of Taiwan for family reunion and with boat rolling race scheduled around the major cities such as Taipei and Kaohsuing where international teams would travel to Taiwan to participate and compete.
Taiwan Ghost Festival, August
Taiwan has a whole month dedicated to all things ghostly and spiritual, held in the seventh month of the lunar calendar (usually around August). Celebrations are held around the island with offerings of food and drink, ritual dances and music, and prayers and chanting to appease the dead who will then bless the living with good fortune.
One of the most significant festivals for Chinese communities around the world, the Moon Festival celebrates family with many joyful reunions, barbecues and gatherings. Don’t miss out on sampling a traditional moon cake, baked especially for the season.