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Post-Lunar New Year festivals in Taiwan

Lantern Festivals and other celebrations across the country in the coming weeks

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Post-Lunar New Year festivals in Taiwan

(Wikimedia Commons photo)

When it comes to public celebrations of the Lunar New Year, Taiwan can sometimes feel a little underwhelming.

While cities in other countries hold elaborate festivals, here the focus is largely on family and food.

The time to explore Taiwan during this part of the year is in the days and weeks following the holiday. It is during this period that unique local festivals can be enjoyed across the country, particularly around the Lantern Festival, the 15th day of the Lunar New Year.

To tell you more about the best post-Lunar New Year festivals in Taiwan, here is a rundown of our favorites:

  • Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival

The Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival is perhaps the most iconic festival taking place in Taiwan this Lunar New Year.

The event sees hundreds of sky lanterns (paper lanterns with candles inside) set off simultaneously, creating a jaw-dropping spectacle as they float into the night sky.

This year there will be two festivals taking place. The first will be on Jan. 12 from 6 p.m.-8.30 p.m. at Pingxi Junior High School in New Taipei City, while the second (and main event) will be on Feb. 15 at the same time in the city's Shifen Sky Lantern Square.

Other displays, including eight-foot high lanterns decorated with tigers, will also be featured, but tickets are limited and will be sold on a first come, first served basis.

The Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival has an international reputation these days and is definitely one show you won’t want to miss.

  • Bombing the Dragon

The Bombing the Dragon festival takes place in Miaoli.

This traditional Hakka festival has six phases: constructing the dragon, dotting its eyes, welcoming the into homes and businesses, dancing the dragon, bombing the dragon, and burning the dragon.

Despite the festival's name, the dragon dancing is the main event, with the burning coming later. When dragons are burnt, they are set alight on top of piles of joss paper. This is symbolic of sending the gods back to heaven with enough money to last them for the year.

  • Bombing Master Handan

This similarly spectacular and explosive festival takes place in Taitung.

It involves brave, shirtless volunteers tied to a stand which is then paraded through the streets while the crowd throws firecrackers at them.

This event dates back to 1951 and is said to commemorate Zhao Gongming (1562-1066 BCE), a Shang dynasty general. It was briefly banned but is now considered a cultural asset and draws big crowds to the southeastern city.

  • Beehive Rocket Festival

The Yanshui Beehive Fireworks Festival takes place in a small district of Tainan and is considered one of the world's most dangerous festivals.

Crowds of people flock to Yanshui to be rewarded by being shot by bottle rockets. Hundreds of thousands of these are fired into the crowd, with most attendees protecting themselves with scooter helmets and jackets.

The tradition started as an attempt to ward off cholera.

COVID-19 caused this festival to be canceled last year, but as soon as life returns to normal, it will be a popular attraction once more.

  • Taiwan Lantern Festival

The Taiwan Lantern Festival takes place in different cities each year. This year, it is being held right here in Kaohsiung.

It will feature huge displays of lanterns, light shows, and pyrotechnics alongside a whole host of concerts, food stalls, and more.

It will be hosted at two main sites: the Love River area and National Kaohsiung Center for the Arts – Weiwuying. Both are worth a visit, and you can be sure of a fun time and spectacular sights.

  • Local Lantern Festivals

In addition to the main event in Kaohsiung, most cities in Taiwan will be holding a smaller, local version. These are likely to be quieter and less chaotic than the main Taiwan Lantern Festival and might be more suitable for families and those still trying to avoid larger crowds.

Here is a rundown of the major local events:

  • Taipei Lantern Festival: Feb. 11-20 at Jiantan, Shilin, and Zhishan MRT stations in Shilin District.
  • New Taipei City Lantern Festival: Feb. 4-28 at New Metropolitan Park in Sanchong District.
  • Taoyuan Lantern Festival: Feb. 9-20 at Guangming Park from Laojie River Yanping Bridge to Xinming Bridge and at Pingzhenshi Park.
  • Yilan Lantern Festival: Now until Feb. 20 at Dongshan Riverside Park and Dongshan Station.
  • Hualien Lantern Festival: Now until March 6 at Nanbin Seaside Park and Liyu (Carp) Lake.
  • Hsinchu Lantern Festival: Feb. 21-28 at Hsinchu Yingximen Gate Moat Park.
  • Taichung Lantern Festival: Feb. 12-20 at Wenxin Forest Park.
  • Taitung Lantern Festival: Now until Feb. 20 on Nanjing Road.
  • Tainan Lantern Festival: Tainan hosts no fewer than four separate events: The Yuejing Harbor Lantern Show, Yuejin Art Museum Festival, Puji Temple Light Display, and Huxingshan Park Light Display. All are underway until Feb. 28.