Taiwan Lantern Festival kicks off tomorrow

Taiwan Lantern Festival officially lights up tomorrow in Pingtung County

(Photo from 2019taiwanlantern.taiwan.net.tw)

(Photo from 2019taiwanlantern.taiwan.net.tw)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- The annual Taiwan Lantern Festival kicks off tomorrow (Feb. 19) and will last until March. 3 in southern Taiwan's Pingtung County.

This year's Taiwan Lantern Festival will take place in three zones in Pingtung County, including Dapeng Bay, Pingtung, and Donggang. The Chinese characters used in the theme of the festival, "Pingan Penglai. Light-up 30," carry many meanings, including peace (ping an), the host venue of Pingtung, the arrival of a mythical bird (peng), and a fabled abode of the immortals.

For the first time in the history of the festival, a main venue is a national scenic area -- Dapeng Bay --- which covers 42 hectares. The Dapeng Bay venue located entirely along a coastal lagoon broken away from the traditional practice of basing the main lantern the Chinese zodiac, and instead features Donggang's bluefin tuna, which will become a permanent landmark after the show concludes.

Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) will preside over the opening ceremonies of the festival tomorrow. However, the festival has actually been operating on a trial basis since Feb. 15, and has already attracted 200,000 visitors.

(Image from 2019taiwanlantern.taiwan.net.tw)

Performances on the main stage at Dapeng Bay will feature "a main theme and a main show" every night during the festival, including performances from Voalá of Spain that combine aerial acrobatics and dances, a Korean drumming troupe, and Taiwan’s U-Theatre drumming troupe.

In an effort to manage the large crowds, shuttles will stop carrying visitors into the park at 8 p.m. and the last shuttle taking tourists out of the park departs at 11 p.m., according to the Pingtung Department of Transportation and Tourism. Based on the first few trial days of the festival, crowds are peaking between 7 p.m. and 8 p.m.

(CNA image)

The department has three pieces of advice for would-be visitors to best enjoy their experience at the glowing gala:

1. Take the train to Pingtung before transferring to shuttles.

2. Carefully observe the optimal hours to visit.

3. Plan in advance and either prioritize one's favorite lanterns to see or visit different sections on different days.

Donggang bluefin tuna. (Image from 2019taiwanlantern.taiwan.net.tw)

Train stations where free shuttles are available:

Taiwan Railways Administration (TRA) -- Chaozhou Station and Linbian Station.

Taiwan High Speed Rail -- Kaohsiung International Airport Station

Cruises by ship:

In addition, the Pingtung County Government and Kao Chi Travel Co., Ltd. are working together on offering a cruise to enjoy the lanterns by sea. On Feb. 19, a ship will depart at 3:30 p.m. from Terminal 2 at Banana Pier (香蕉碼頭) in Kaohsiung, enabling 120 visitors to take part in the first lantern cruise in the history of the Taiwan Lantern Festival.

One ship per day will be available for cruises from Fridays through Sundays for the duration of the festival with a limit of 120 passengers per trip. For more information on the cruises, please call Kao Chi Travel Co., Ltd at 07-7192888.

(Image from 2019taiwanlantern.taiwan.net.tw)

(Image from 2019taiwanlantern.taiwan.net.tw)

(Image from 2019taiwanlantern.taiwan.net.tw)

(Image from 2019taiwanlantern.taiwan.net.tw)