FEATURE: Taiwan Lantern Festival celebrates 30th birthday with flair

TAIPEI (The China Post/ANN) - Visitors to the Taiwan Lantern Festival are in for a one-of-a-kind experience this year with a series of activities and special displays that celebrate the renowned event’s three decades of history.

Since 1990, the Tourism Bureau under the Ministry of Transportation and Communications has organized the event every year from the 15th day of the first month in the Chinese lunar calendar, which falls on Feb. 19, 2019.

Since its launch, the Taiwan Lantern Festival, which is held in different cities and counties each year, has grown to become one of the nation’s largest and most well-known tourism events abroad.

At the heart of the festival is the tradition of carrying small handheld lanterns, while admiring a wide array of static lantern exhibits and performances by local and international folk groups.

Pingtung’s Rich Marine Resources

This year main celebrations will run until March 3 in Donggang Township, Pingtung County in the Dapeng Bay National Scenic Area. The event will highlight Pingtung’s rich marine resources and agricultural products as part of the theme of various lantern exhibitions.

The festival will also introduce water dance and water curtain performances for the first time through the unique bay area of Dapeng Bay. Through cooperation with famous artists, the art products exhibition mode will be displayed in the Glory 30 Lantern area, which will make the most beautiful merging of the Lantern Festival and culture.

Organizers have also specially planned the “PP Party” (Pig Party) with the support of the entertainment industry. The unique feature will combine the lantern extravaganza with other amusement facilities to create a cheerful and relaxing area for children.

Pingtung’s Innovative Thinking

As is customary, the festival should have been designed around the upcoming animal featured in the Chinese lunar calendar, which next year is the pig. This time, however, Taiwan Lantern Festival will introduce innovative thinking and creativity with the main lantern designed with the famous Bluefin tuna of Donggang Township, Pingtung County as the design element.

The lantern is poised to remain in place at Dapeng Bay after the completion of the Lantern Festival, as a new landmark of the area. It has a total height of 16 meters, and it is equipped with full-color LED lights.

The lanterns will be lit at 7 p.m. every night, and a light show featuring the main lantern will be held every 30 minutes, providing visitors with an ever-changing visual highlight. During the Lantern Festival, a night cruise will also be launched to provide visitors with more options during the festivities.

Pingtung’s Local Cultures

What’s more? The little handheld lanterns are an important part of the festival the young and the young at heart. This year, organizers named it the “2019 Pingan Pig,” which is derived from the “Grandfather Pig of the Wind,” a local cultural symbol in the Pingtung area.

The characters in “Pingan” combined together mean “Pingtung” and “peace.” This warm-hearted pig will entertain visitors with its cute large nose, eyes, and ears, and can be used in a functional manner to hold 2,019 coins. The main lantern is located in Dapeng Bay, next to Donggang, which is famous for its seafood. The value of the area’s whole year of fishery products is more than NT$3 billion.

The “Donggang Sambo” cherry shrimp, tuna and oil fish caviar are well-known in Taiwan. In addition, to welcome the feast of the Lantern Festival and to gather ideas from all walks of life, Donggang has created the first “Lantern Festival limited edition cuisine” in the history of the Taiwan Lantern Festival.

The gourmet cuisines are based on the “Donggang Sambo” theme and develop foods limited to the Lantern Festival (for group meals and individual meals), hand-made gifts, and desserts.

After enjoying a pleasant evening with friends and family, stroll through the Dapeng Bay area with rich flavor of Southeast Asia or visit the Donglong Palace, a historical site full of incense, and pray for a year of peace, or chase the blue sky and white clouds to Liuqiu outlying island, where you can swim with the sea turtles, get a break from the city’s hustle, and experience low carbon travel.

Taiwan Lantern Festival

With so many exciting activities, there is little wonder that the annual festival has been named by the Discovery Channel as one of the best festivals in the world and praised by foreign media as “a Disneyland without roller coasters.”

The 2019 Taiwan Lantern Festival will be officially opened at 7 p.m. on the evening of Feb. 19 (Tuesday). During the Lantern Festival, every hour on the hour and on the half hour, there will be a light show at the main lantern.

Combined with the traditional cultural festivals held during this time of the year, including the Sky Lantern Festival in northern Taiwan, the Yanshui Beehive and Fireworks Festival in southern Taiwan and Bombing of Lord Handan Festival in eastern Taiwan, we welcome friends from home and abroad to have fun together at the beginning of the year and feel a different festive atmosphere.