A new year is once again upon us. During the Chinese New Year it is customary for those who live and work away from their hometowns to return to their extended families. When they go back this year, there will be many new discoveries awaiting them. The CCA has selected over 500 unique cultural events and places in six categories to highlight. These include cultural activities, historic architecture, buildings of cultural merit, public arts, unique regional foods, and vibrantly-restored skill-based communities.
In recent years, many changes have taken place in Taiwan's rural areas, and the counties have undergone a renaissance. Thanks to increased attention from newspapers and TV media, citizens have realized and taken part in this flowering of culture. One after another, excellent cultural activities, historic facilities, seasonal art fairs, local industries, and seasonal festivals have blossomed to enrich all our lives with unprecedented diversity.
More than ten years of community infrastructure development and the promotion of public art have laid the foundation for a profound shift in Taiwan's cultural life. Taiwan has matured as a civic society, thanks to increased participation from a public that is more culturally-aware than ever.
The Chinese New Year is a great time for every person to stop, take a look around, and rediscover the charming new look of his familiar old hometown. The Council for Cultural Affairs (CCA) invites you to experience Taiwan's culture again for the first time.
In Yilan County, the National Center for Traditional Arts will present a series of performances from Taiwanese and overseas groups. These will include traditional lion-and-dragon dancing, in which people don elaborate animal costumes and take to the streets in celebration, daring stilt walkers, thrilling acrobatics, dazzling martial arts displays, and mystifying magic shows. All these will take your breath away and make for an unforgettable experience.
From January 16th to March 17th, the Presidential Palace in Taipei will present classic drama, street artists, and exhibitions of folk art in a promotion of traditional stores and craft skills.
In Taichung, a traditional art festival celebrating Chinese New Year and lantern festival offers residents an excellent chance to experience all that Taichung's traditional art groups have to offer, to interact with artists, and to learn more about traditional art. Works to be showed include glove puppets, Chinese opera, Chinese orchestra, and fantastic drumming displays.
Satisfy your sweet tooth at the Candy World Festival, hosted by Tainan County's International Candy Museum. It will feature sweet offerings from Japan, the United States, and Europe. You can learn about the history and manufacturing process of a dazzling array of candy, and of course, buy all you'd like - just remember to save some money for your dental bill!
In Kaohsiung, you may experience a vast collection of folk art, including over 150 stands to display and sell works by renowned masters of traditional craft.
You can also celebrate the Chinese New Year with dolls and puppets, at the International Kaohsiung County Puppet Theater Festival at the WeiWu Camp Art Center. The festival will run from January 21st to February 5th. Highlights will include 40 limited-edition classic Barbie dolls, Pili glove puppets, Italian marionettes, and shadow puppets. Taiwan's rich puppet culture will be in full view at the Lin Liu-Hsin Puppet Theatre Museum, which will offer a highly interactive puppet performance sure to delight children and adults alike. The festival will feature eight themed sections, including the Game Park, Pili Club, Shadow's Home, Puppet's Home, Fantoccini's Home, Doll's Castle, Cultural Stage, and Food.
In Pingtung County, the Kenting Wind Bell Festival will help visitors relax near tropical seashores. From January 21st to February 12th, you can hear wind chimes from northern Europe, Mexico, Indonesia, and around the Aegean Sea. There will be a wind chime city and a maze, galleries, and oceanic installation art. The wind science museum will reveal all you'd think to ask about wind, and children can run wild in the outdoor play area. Visitors are invited to discover an endless variety of wind chimes and to enjoy a tropical vacation surrounded by the Pacific Ocean. The freshening mountain tempest was before a damper on local tourism from December to March, but thanks to the wind chimes, the wind has become itself a reason to visit. The Wind Bell Festival showcases Pingtung County's linking of the human and the natural.
While in Pingtung County, don't fail to sample the exotic fruit, including luscious golden pineapple and the uniquely succulent lian wu, or Taiwan apple. Pingtung also offers superb onions, the best in Taiwan, which you can appreciate in a number of aborigine-inspired dishes.
No matter where you are in Taiwan, the Chinese New Year will be an excellent time to experience unique local edibles. In Taipei County, you can try golden mountain duck, so named for the bright yellow coat of spices applied during roasting. In Shenkeng, you can feast on chou tofu - better known as stinky tofu, the powerful odor masks a sublime flavor. In Danshui you can snack on fresh shrimp rolls and find a variety of desserts at a famous cake store. In Hsinchu, you can try beef noodles, steamed dumplings, and mantou, a kind of steamed bun (available with or without different fillings). Taizhong is famous for its seafood and taro and cream cakes. If you'll be in Nantou, located in the heart of Taiwan's largest bamboo forest, don't miss any of the numerous dishes there featuring bamboo. Jiayi is famous for its chicken rice, a humble dish that's taken to new heights by the traditional restaurants and unique chicken found in Jiayi. In Tainan, reputed to be the snack capital of Taiwan, try the delectable sugared duck, or vegetarian mushroom dumplings. Kaohsiung offers Taiwan's freshest seafood.
A quick look at events:
The approaching 2006 Chinese New Year will see the return of some familiar stars to the spotlight: Wen Xiang,(文香) Wen Xia(文夏), Zheng Ri Qing (鄭日清), Cai Zhen Nan (蔡振南), and a host of other musicians well known to older generations will appear in 16 concerts around Taiwan. 11 of the 16 concerts will be held in temple squares. In earlier times, temples were important gathering places in Taiwanese society. Though the temples still stand, their squares are less important than they used to be, and with their decline the atmosphere of Chinese New Year has lost some of its special qualities. “By bringing these activities to audiences around Taiwan, we are reaffirming every citizen's right to cultural citizenship,” pointed out Chen Chi Nan, minister of the CCA.
The old songs are a poignant representation of Taiwan's past, common to all Taiwanese though less recognized today. The CCA, as administrator of cultural affairs, is delighted to preserve their value, and hopes that all will have a warm Chinese New Year with old friends, old songs, and good company.
Also, if you stay around Taipei during Chinese New year, you may go check the newly reopened Huashan Culture Park. Form February 3 to February 28, an INDI Music Spring Festival will be held by non-pop bands and organizations, such as Trees Music & Art, Silent Agreement, and SoundandFury / AMG. The festival is directed by Council for Culture Affairs (CCA).
As a special alternative to today's pop music, this festival brings creative and powerful music for every one to share.
In Hsinchu, the Glass Arts Museum will hold an international Glass Art Festival the sixth since 1995. This year's will celebrate flower imagery, with a spectacular glass flower city. There will be three areas in the festival: fifty works by Taiwan's own glass artists, depicting flowers; fifty pieces from 26 international artists from more than 20 countries across Europe, the United States, Australia, and Japan; and finally a glorious vignette by an Italian artist, presenting eight scenes from Alice in Wonderland. During the festival there will be 105 demonstrations of the various steps and procedures in the creation of glass art. In the performance area there will also be 29 performances, one per weekend. Finally there will also be a multitude of DIY classes for both adults and children. The festival will run from February 11th to April 30th. Please visit http://www.hcccb.gov.tw for more information.
Also in Taichung, one may visit the TADA Center. Several old wineries in Taiwan have been remodeled and set to new purposes, and among them the TADA Center is the flagship project. It is now the most important art, design, and architecture center in Taiwan. During the Chinese New Year, the center will host an event for calligraphers to demonstrate their skills.
Finally in Taichung, the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts will hold an exhibition titled ‘Scents of a Woman'. Consisting of 103 pieces, the exhibition brings together diverse images of women from three museums: the National Palace Museum in Taipei, Chi Mei Museum in Tainan, and the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts itself. Various female characters of different historical backgrounds and social positions provide a comprehensive depiction of female roles through many periods. Besides the display, a series of activities including female-related forums, courses, and studies will enrich the content of the exhibition. ‘Scents of a Woman' runs through February 12th; for more information, please go to http://www.tmoa.gov.tw.
The White Rice Communities in Yilan County are the home of traditional Taiwanese clogs. The area was previously abandoned by all save a few elderly people. Today, it is a sterling example of the CCA's success in rebuilding and reinvigorating local communities and industries. The clog industry is thriving and offers a charming glimpse of a unique Taiwanese art form.
This Chinese New Year, take the time to visit an art center, see an exhibit, take in a performance, or check out a special community - and eat something delicious, too. As the Year of the Rooster gives way to the Year of the Dog, the CCA reminds you to go home more often, and experience the beautiful richness of Taiwan's local cultures. For more information and a wealth of other events throughout Taiwan, please, visit http://spring2006.cca.gov.tw, or http://www.cca.gov.tw. Happy New Year!