TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- To coincide with the traditional Lantern Festival on the Lunisolarcalendar, the first leg of the 2018 Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival (平溪天燈節) is set for liftoff tomorrow (March 2) in New Taipei City's Pingxi District, while a second such display will be held later this year during the Mid-Autumn Festival, according to the New Taipei City Government.
The Lantern Festival, known in Mandarin as "Yuan Hsiao Chieh" (元宵節), is one of the more spectacular spectacles in Taiwan and celebrates the last day of the Lunar New Year. The Pingxi lantern festival involves the nighttime release of thousands of sky lanterns (天燈).
Sky lanterns were first invented during the Three Kingdoms period (AD 220-265) in ancient China by military strategist Zhuge Liang to transmit information and are considered the earliest precursor to the hot air balloon. Sky lanterns were first introduced in Taiwan in the 19th century and were originally released at the beginning of the spring planting season to be used as prayers for the coming year.
Sky lanterns flying in night sky. (Image by flickr user Jirka Matousek)
Tomorrow's sky lantern flying event will be held at the Shifen Sky Lantern Square (十分廣場) from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., with a total of eight waves of mass sky lantern launches scheduled throughout the night.
Free lantern flying tickets for the event will be issued at the venue, starting at 10 a.m. tomorrow, according to the local government.
Visitors take photos of sky lanterns as they take off. (Image by flickr user Jirka Matousek)
Every year, the festival attracts tens of thousands of visitors to Pingxi District, the only place in Taiwan where the release of sky lanterns is allowed by the government.
People launching sky lanterns into the air in Pingxi. (Wikimedia Commons image)
Fodor's Travel in 2013 named the event one of the world's 14 festivals a person must attend in their lifetime.
Shifen Sky Lantern Square
No.136, Nanshanping, Nanshan Village, Pingxi Dist., New Taipei City