KAOHSIUNG (Taiwan News) – As you peer through the smog this weekend, it might be hard to tell, but spring is upon us and flowers are bursting into bloom across the country.
With overseas travel off the agenda, there will be no shortage of people flocking out of the cities to witness Taiwan’s spring spectacular. But where are the best places to see and picture a Taiwanese spring in all its glory?
5) Formosan Aboriginal Cultural Village-Cherry Blossom & Lavender Festival – throughout March
The Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village is close to Sun Moon Lake and every year the cherry trees around the beautiful lake erupt into flowers. This includes more than 2,000 cherry blossom trees situated in the Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village complex itself.
Since 2001, there has been a festival held every year to celebrate this occasion. Lights are placed under each tree in the village and through sunset and into the evening, the park is lit up with a jaw-droppingly beautiful display.
Once the cherry-blossom festival comes to a close, the lavender festival begins with more than 100,000 lavender plants creating a blanket of color and some heavenly aromas. This part of central Taiwan is stunning enough but at this time of year, there are a few more beautiful spectacles.
4) Yangmingshan Flower Festival – now until May
Situated in the Beitou district of Taipei, Yangmingshan National Park is one of the most beautiful and naturally diverse places in northern Taiwan. However, as spring arrives, its vibrant flowers burst into life making a visit even more special.
It’s not just cherry blossoms you will see here. Yangmingshan also offers azalea, camellia, wild peony, peach blossom, and many more varieties of flowers. The National Park arranges a variety of events throughout the season which comprise the Yangmingshan Flower Festival.
From the end of March, the park also plays host to the Yangmingshan Calla Lily Festival, where visitors can view and pick these beautiful flowers. Though you may get a bit muddy, it is an experience well worth the effort.
3) Hakka Tung Blossom Festival – March-May
Wherever the Hakka people have lived in Taiwan you will find Tung trees. These deciduous trees have come to symbolize Hakka culture and at this time of year, they blossom with spectacular effect.
There are two types of Tung tree: the Aleurites montana, which blooms from now until the end of April, and the Aluerites fordii hemsj, which blooms from around April to as late as July. Both have bright white blossoms with red filaments in the center, dotted with bright yellow pollen.
If you head to traditionally Hakka areas, you can view this blossom in all its glory. Areas where the Tung blossom can be seen include Taipei, Taoyuan, Hsinchu, Miaoli, Taichung, Nantou, Changhua, Yunlin, Yilan, Hualien, and Keelung.
2) Shilin Residence Rose Show – March-May (and November-December)
The Chiang Kai-Shek Shilin Official Residence, located in the Shilin district of Taipei was where the military dictator and his wife lived from 1950 until his death in 1975. Since 2012, the residence and its spectacular botanical gardens have been open to the public.
The gardens are laid out in both traditional Chinese and Western styles and one highlight is the rose garden. Roses were apparently a favorite of Madam Chiang and the huge rose garden, which is some 4,220 square meters, has more than 200 different varieties and a total of 5,000 plants.
These bloom between March and May and the festival that runs during this period offers one of the most spectacular rose displays in Taiwan. If roses aren’t for you, why not schedule a visit for November to December, when it is the turn for the spectacular chrysanthemums to be in full bloom.
1) Alishan Cherry Blossom Festival – March-April
If there is one flower festival that has become synonymous with spring in Taiwan, it is the Alishan Cherry Blossom Festival. Situated in Chiayi County at an altitude of more than 2,000 meters above sea level, the Alishan Forest Recreation Area is the perfect environment for cherry blossoms.
There are more than 19,000 cherry trees dotted around this area, and18,000 of these are Yoshino cherry trees that carry the most beautiful pink and white blossom. The festival attracts thousands of visitors every year and if you haven’t booked a hotel you may already be too late.
Nevertheless, it is still worth making the visit if you can. Whether you enjoy the cherry blossom on foot or by traveling on Alishan’s unique narrow-gauge forest railway, this festival is one of Taiwan’s truly unique and spectacular experiences.