Here’s another colorful festival to add to your travel bucket list – the annual Taiwan Lantern Festival, a major event held every 15th day of the first lunar month, or the tail end of the lunar new year.
The Lantern Festival in Taiwan is now considered as a major tourist attraction in Taiwan, thanks to the Taiwan Tourism Bureau. It used to be held in Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall in Taipei, but is now set in different locations across the island each year, to further promote local tourism. This year, the Yunlin County Government is the official host of the Lantern Festival.
Last week, I was fortunate to be invited by the Taiwan Tourism Bureau along with 6 other members of the media from Southeast Asia (Malaysia, Vietnam, Thailand, Philippines) to tour around southern Taiwan and attend the launching of the 2017 Taiwan Lantern Festival last February 11 in Yunlin County.
A Brief History
According to go2taiwan.net ~ The origin of the festival lies in the festive activities of an agricultural people celebrating the lengthening of daylight hours and the coming of spring after the New Year. Other legends have it that the festival was actually started by an emperor of the Han dynasty (206 B.C. – 220 A.D.), who was a devout Buddhist and who ordered his people to display lights on the fifteenth night of the first month of the lunar year to pay respects to Buddha. According to the same legend, holding torches or lanterns on this night makes it easier to see deities descending from heaven to give blessings to the earth. Yet another legend has it that in the Tang dynasty, the emperors would celebrate the festival by ordering hundreds of beautiful women to sing and dance with lanterns in the brightly lit plaza. These festive activities gradually spread to the common people and developed into the most popular festival in the year after Chinese New Year. The festival is also called the Little New Year. In the old days, these festivities, together with the celebrations for the Chinese New Year, would last for as long as forty-five days. Nowadays the festival lasts for a week.
How to get there
Traveling to Taiwan only takes around 2 hrs by plane from Manila to Taipei, making it soooo easy for us Pinoys to attend this big event. Check out China Airlines and AirAsia for flight schedules.
This year’s main lantern is named “Feng Huang Lai Yi” by academician of Academia Sinica Tseng Yung-yi. The lantern takes the shape of a phoenix standing on top of a mountain, ready to fly up to the sky with its outspreading wings, leading Taiwan to a whole new era. This 23m high lantern is designed by JFA Artwork and sponsored by Chunghwa Telecom
Surprised to see these lanterns about the Philippines!
Aside from hundreds of colorful lanterns in various shapes and sizes, the festival also features the best of Taiwan streetfood…
Amid fanfare, people pray for a prosperous and peaceful year…..
People wrote their wishes and hung them on the lanterns
It was also a great opportunity for families to bond.
People also lined-up to ring the bell of prosperity
They also consulted fortune tellers to give them a forecast for the coming year.
As for me, I was just really thankful to be there to experience everything. =)
Oh and by the way, one thing that really impressed me the most was that, despite the huge crowd, the whole area remained clean with minimal litter. The portable toilets were also clean and well maintained. I admire the people of Taiwan for being so honest, polite and orderly too!
It was indeed another unforgettable experience for me.
Thank you Taiwan Tourism Bureau for this awesome trip!
For for info, visit https://taiwan.net.tw/2017taiwanlantern/EN
Stay tuned for more features from my 2017 Taiwan Lantern Festival trip!