Taiwan Lantern Festival lights up tonight

Taiwan Lantern Festival to illuminate the skies of Pingtung tonight

(Image from https://2019taiwanlantern.taiwan.net.tw)

(Image from https://2019taiwanlantern.taiwan.net.tw)

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

At 7 p.m. tonight Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) and Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) will preside over the opening ceremonies of the festival, which will include switching on the lights and a blessing ritual. Tonight's opening ceremony is timed to coincide with the traditional date of the Lantern Festival, which is the fifteenth day of the first month in the lunisolar calendar.

The opening ceremony will include fireworks, water dance light shows, a performance on the sea by French dance troupe Ilotopie, and songs by Crowd Lu (盧廣仲) Bobby Chen (陳昇). 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.

(Image from https://2019taiwanlantern.taiwan.net.tw)

If weather conditions permit, an air show comprised of 300 lit UAVs will dazzle visitors with synchronized light displays in the night sky. Examples of formations by the UAVs include the Chinese characters for "Pingtung" (屏東), the English letters for "Taiwan," and the Eluanbi Lighthouse.

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.

(Image from https://2019taiwanlantern.taiwan.net.tw)

For the first time in the history of the festival, a main venue is a national scenic area -- Dapeng Bay --- which covers a land area of 42 hectares and a water zone of 200 hectares. The Dapeng Bay venue, located entirely along a coastal lagoon, has 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.

The festival has actually been operating on a trial basis since Feb. 15, and has already attracted 200,000 visitors.

(Image from Pingtung County Government)

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.

(Image from https://2019taiwanlantern.taiwan.net.tw)

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.

(Image from https://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.

For more information about the Taiwan Lantern Festival, please visit its official website.