Taiwan has a rich cultural history and tourists from all over the world come to visit the Island for its celebratory and cultural events held throughout the year. Here, we’ll look at some of the more popular events that occur in Taiwan
The Pingxi Lantern Festival
The Pingxi Lantern festival is part of the Taiwan Lantern festival which is an annual event that coincides with the Spring Lantern Chinese Festival and is celebrated on the fifteenth day of the first month in the lunisolar Chinese calendar. The festival started in the early 19th century and served as a way for the people to release celebrate the New Year and release their prayers in sky lanterns to travel up to their ancestors with well wishes, and hopes for the upcoming New Year.
Over time, the event has centralised in Pingxi area and the event carries the thoughts of a reflected life and the hopes of the future and it has been voted as one of the of the biggest New Year celebrations in the world by the Discovery Channel. Like many other celebrations, the lantern festival will settle on a theme – the theme will revolve around the zodiac symbol of the Chinese New Year, with the main lantern being a reflection of that theme. The smaller lanterns such as the ones released by children, families and tourists will invariably relate to that theme. It is an incredibly beautiful event and is popular with local people who would like to be blessed for a variety of reasons.
Sky lanterns are handmade, and are made with rice paper, thin bamboo strips and wire and are powered into the sky through kerosene soaked papers upon which carry the prayers of the person releasing the sky lantern. At the festival tourists will have the option of buying a premade lantern, or they can make their own. The relatively sleepy town of Pingxi has a population of around 6,000 – however up to half a million people will descend upon the town for the festival.
After being set alight, the lantern will rise to around 500metres and will generally stay afloat for up to 8 minutes. Owing to the fire hazard of the fire lanterns, the lantern festival has been restricted to the Pingxi district located in Northen Taiwain where the higher humidity and increased rainfall in the region, limits the fire hazard of the lantern.
The Dragon Boat Festival
The Dragon Boat Festival is a traditional holiday originating in China and occurring near the summer solstice. It is less commonly known as the Zhongxia Festival and it is a celebration commemorating fealty and filial peity both elements of Confucian philosophy. In modern times the festival will occur on the 5th day of the 5th month in the traditional Chinese calender. Since the calender is lunisolar, it is important to double check the dates of most of the festivals within Taiwan as they will occur on different days each year. For example, in the Gregorian calendar the festival occurred on June 2 in 2014, June 20th in 2015, June 9th in 2016, May 30 in 2017, June 18 in 2018 and June 7 in 2019.
The best known story for the reason of the festival is that it commemorates the death of the poet and Minister Qu Yuan (340-278BC) during the period of the Zhou Dynasty. Though it should be known that there are several different variations of the holiday and the reasoning behind the holiday. Regardless of the reasoning behind the holiday, it is best known for three kinds of pleasurable activities; eating, drinking and racing dragon boats and is an exceptionally popular event for visiting tourists.
New Year Festival
The Chinese New Year Festival is one of the most popular festivals in Taiwan. It celebrates the first day of the New Year in the Chinese calendar. Like most festivals concerning Chinese culture, it is dictated by the Lunar Calendar and therefore will fall on a different day each year. The festival will celebrate one of the 12 Zodiac Animals which include; ox, horse, goat, rooster, pig, dog, rat, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake and monkey. They are separated into two categories with the first six of the aforementioned list being the main domesticated animals raised by the Chinese with the latter six being the most loved animals. The holiday will normally fall between January the 20th and February the 20th and is celebrated with food, families, lucky money (given in the form of red envelopes), costumes and many other things with the colour red for good luck. The festival will be celebrated in a vibrant display of red and will feature lion and dragon dances, drums, and a multitude of fireworks and fire crackers.
It is the largest and most important annual festival celebrated by Chinese and Chinese descendants across the globe. It’s sometimes referred to as the spring festival or Lunar New Year. When visiting Taiwan for the New Year festival it is important to note that many of the shops and the tourist attractions across the island will shut down for the first day or two of the celebration. The event is marked by numerous other celebrations across the Island which include the Pingxi Lantern Festival, the Bombarding Master Handan festival, and the Yanshui Beehive Fireworks festival.
National day is primarily celebrated within Taiwan and is one of the few national holidays for the Island considering its history with that of mainland China. It is the national day of the Republic of China (ROC) and it is a celebration commemorating the Wuchang Uprising of October 10, 1911. This uprising led to the collapse of the Qing Dynasty in China and resulted in the formation of the ROC on January 1st, 1912. Over the course of the Chinese Civil War the ROC lost control of mainland China and opted to fleet to Taiwan in December 1949, as a result the National day is primarily only celebrated in the ROC controlled Taiwan.
The celebration will officially begin with the rising of the Republic of China Flag in the front of the Presidential Building in Taipei and the singing of the national anthem of the Republic of China. This is followed by celebrations in front of the Presidential Building. Every few years, occurring randomly, a military parade may occur. Festivities will often include many traditional aspects of Chinese and Taiwanese culture including drums and lion dances. The event is concluded by a presidential address and a fireworks display.