LANTERN FESTIVAL- An unforgettable Taiwanese tradition in which thousands of bright lanterns light up the Pingxi sky!
When- March 2nd, 2018
Where- Pingxi, Taiwan
About- The Taiwan Lantern Festival is an annual event hosted by the Tourism Bureau of the Ministry of Transportation and Communications in Taiwan to celebrate the Lantern Festival. During the Taiwan Lantern Festival, thousands of sky lanterns light over Pingxi District in Taiwan.
This unique Taiwanese lantern festival was voted by the Discovery Channel as the second biggest New Year’s Eve celebration in the world! This 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.
The lanterns are lit, hopes slowly rise, and the flames of prayer dance in the air as the lanterns magically transform into wings of hope and desire, turning the night sky of this mountain town into an expanse of unimaginable beauty. The sight of sky lanterns with their lights rising slowing into the sky is for many Taiwanese a beautiful memory and the beginning of happiness and dreams.
The theme of the main lanterns often corresponds with the zodiac signs of Chinese astrology. All of them are over ten meters tall. Since 1999, every main lantern has its own theme music which is about 3 minutes in length and plays the rhythm when making performances during Taiwan Lantern Festival.
The smaller lanterns, often carried by children or placed on temples, show images of historical figures, birds, or images from that year’s theme.
History- Tradition has it that the “sky lantern” was invented during the Three Kingdoms period (AD 220-265) by Zhuge Liang. At first it was used to transmit military information, different from beacon towers yet ingeniously serving the same function, and is now generally recognized as the earliest ancestor to the hot air balloon. In the early 19th century the Lantern Festival was brought to Taiwan, 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. Because in olden times marriage was for the purpose of “adding a son” and increasing manpower, people went to the temple to pray for blessings and released sky lanterns on which they had written things like “May a son soon be born.” and “May the harvests be bountiful.” 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. Through many, many years of changes, the one thing that never changed was the reflected lives and hopes of the people as the sky lanterns slowly rose aloft. For many years the “Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival” has had a brilliant history.