This post about the Taiwan Lantern Festival is sponsored by the Taiwan Tourism Bureau.
If you didn’t know already, I was born in Taiwan and I can’t praise my motherland enough. The food is to die for and the people are one of the friendliest in the world! What better way to experience authentic Taiwanese culture and hospitality than to visit the Taiwan Lantern Festival?
Also known as 元宵節 (Yuan Xiao Jie), it’s considered one of the most significant festivals in Taiwan. The first full moon of the Chinese New Year shines on the 15th day of the first lunar month- this is exactly when the Lantern Festival takes place. You can say that it’s the grand finale of the Chinese New Year, or Spring Festival!
History and Background of the Taiwan Lantern Festival
元 (yuan) refers to the first month in the Chinese lunar calendar, and 宵 (xiao) refers to ‘night’. In a nutshell, the Lantern Festival symbolizes unity, prosperity, and new beginnings. The whole idea is to celebrate the coming of spring and a fresh start to the year ahead.
So how did the Lantern Festival come about in the first place? There are tons of legends and myths surrounding the origin of this festival. Some say the celebrations are to ward off evil, others say these festivities welcome deities. One legend talks about pleasing the Gods, another explains that firecrackers and red lanterns are to distract an angry emperor.
Whichever story you believe, this important event is where the Taiwanese gather with their loved ones to welcome a brand new year filled with happiness and good fortune.
Festivities include making lanterns, solving riddles, and eating 湯圓 (tangyuan), which are glutinous rice balls with sweet or savoury fillings. Growing up in Taiwan, it was a yearly tradition for my family to gather at my grandparents’ house in ChiaYi to make sesame flavoured tangyuan from scratch. The kids would run around with decorative lanterns and play with firecrackers, under adult supervision of course!
Taiwan Lantern Festival
The first Taiwan Lantern Festival was held in 1990. Since 2001, the official national Taiwan Lantern Festival has been hosted in different cities every year, with each year being bigger and better.
This annual event features dazzling laser and light displays, parades, live music, and various performances. If you’ve been wanting to watch lion and dragon dances, acrobatic acts, fireworks, and folk art skits all in one place, this is the place to do it! Visitors can also check out booths selling traditional handicrafts and snacks.
YunLin County in the mid-western part of Taiwan has been selected as the host of the 2017 festival, which marks the Year of the Rooster in the Chinese zodiac. The venue will be decked out with lanterns, lights, and art installations, including a gigantic rooster lantern installation at the exhibit!
Sky Lantern Festival in Ping Xi
Running concurrently is the Sky Lantern Festival in Ping Xi, a small village in New Taipei City in northern Taiwan. People from all over the world visit Ping Xi and Shi Fen year-round to release sky lanterns with their wishes written on them.
During the actual Lantern Festival, thousands attend this one-of-a-kind Sky Lantern Festival after dark to launch lanterns into the night. Imagine countless glowing lanterns slowly rising and lighting up the black sky with everyone’s hopes and dreams!
2017 Taiwan Lantern Festival – Event Info
Event Page: Taiwan Lantern Festival
Dates: February 11 – 19, 2017
Location of the 2 exhibits:
- Between the HSR (Taiwan High Speed Rail) YunLin Station and the Agricultural Ecological Park (Map)
- BeiGang township – surrounding areas of ZhongShan Rd and the Tourist Bridge (Map)
Heading to Taiwan? Make sure you try these must-eat dishes while you’re there!