thousands of lanterns in the sky during Taiwan lantern festival
During the night of the first full moon of the lunar year, people of Taiwan; both young and old, venture out to celebrate the world-renowned Lantern Festival. The festival is not only the popular event in the Taiwanese calendar but is now a major tourist attraction too, and it’s easy to see why!

Taiwan Lantern Festival 
When: Feb 19, 2019

In Taiwan, the first Full Moon of the Lunar Year is the night when the sky dazzles with uncountable lanterns ranging from handheld children’s lanterns and huge floats in paper lights to the really high-tech ones. But there’s more to this festival of light than floats with lasers on the streets of Taipei and Kaohsiung.

LIGHTSHOWS AT LANTERN LAMP FESTIVAL TAIPEI

How It Began 
The history of the Taipei Lantern Festival event goes back to centuries. During the Qing Dynasty, remote villages were difficult to control and protect. So villagers would often hide in the mountains during winters after the final harvest to avoid bandits and thieves. And soon after the winter had passed, the men would come out of the hiding and release lanterns to signify it was safe for others to return. 
Another belief says that it came into being during the early 19th century at the beginning of the spring planting season when people would release “sky lanterns” into the air as a prayer for the coming year. Sky lanterns were released with the belief that they rise up to the ancestors to report that all was well and to pray for blessings. This practice eventually evolved into the festival it is today.
It was in 1990 when the Taiwanese Tourism Bureau devised a plan to hold an event that would help celebrate local folklore. To coincide with the age-old customs such as the Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival and the Yanshui Fireworks Festival they decided to hold a major Lantern Festival. The festival that originally took place in Taipei is now celebrated in different locations across the island each year.
Even if we trace the history, the lunar calendar is extremely important in Taiwan and therefore, the first full moon of the lunar year is a considered an auspicious time of the year. There are many traditions surrounding this special night but here are the most famous ones.

NIGHT SKY DURING PINGXI LANTERN FESTIVAL

Pingxi Sky Lantern
The small hillside town of Pingxi is home to a breathtaking tradition that has made it a hugely popular tourist destination. During the first full moon of the lunar calendar, sky lanterns are released to the heavens. Its one of the brightest, happiest and most heartwarming events in Taiwan that are not to be missed. Every year, tourists flock to the village of Pingxi for its annual Lantern Festival, where they write their wishes on paper lanterns and release them into the sky. These are released into the night sky to let the ancestors know they are safe and sound as they carry hopes and wishes for the new year. 

The sight of Pingxi streets with shops selling lanterns, each one with different kind and colour is a sight to behold. It's not only fun- choosing a lantern and writing down wishes with a Chinese calligraphy pen, but the festival also speaks volumes about faith in our beliefs. The magnificent sight transcends the cultural barriers. It's surprising that despite living in a scientific era, we still want to experience the traditions that connect us with the higher self. It's magical to watch thousands of sky lanterns carrying prayers and hopes afloat in the night sky. The festival truly is symbolic of the beginning of happiness and fulfilment of dreams. But while choosing a lantern you got to be careful because each colour has a different significance raging from wealth, fame and fortune to marital happiness. You can also buy animal shaped lanterns including cats, monkeys, and pandas.


Besides, Pingxi, you can also attend Taipei and Kaohsiung Lantern Festival. Its the perfect time to visit Taiwan as the whole country is seen in colourful and celebratory mood. 

And, if you prefer fireworks, you can head to the Yanshuei Beehive Fireworks Festival. 

In Thailand too they have Loy Kratong, a lantern festival. It's more like Thailand’s version of Valentine’s Day. Moreover, every month during the full moon, people light paper lanterns and watch them float into the sky. It’s considered to be a sign of good luck.

How to Attend the Taiwan Lantern Festival

As mentioned Lantern festival is celebrated on the first full moon of the Lunar calendar, so of course, dates and location for the Taipei Lantern Festival keeps changing every year. However, it usually happens in the month of February or March. The theme too keeps changing each year. 


During the festival, there are free shuttle buses that run to and from the site from various points around the city. You do not need to purchase a ticket to attend the festival - it’s free! The Taiwan Lantern Festival lasts for a couple of weeks, so you can nicely plan your trip and enjoy the festival. Just make sure you book your accommodation in advance, as things do fill up quickly.

BEAUTIFUL LANTERNS ADORN THE CITY OF TAIWAN DURING LANTERN FESTIVAL



Book Your Trip to Taiwan: Tips and Tricks
Book Your Flight
Find a flight using www.cleartrip.com, or www.makemytrip.com. These are my favorite and reliable search engines.
However, the return trip from Delhi to Taiwan (Taoyuan International Airport, Taipei) would cost you around Rs 35,000 per member. You can fly either Thai Airways or Cathay Pacific depending on the best deal available.

➤Book Your Accommodation
A three-star hotel in Taipei will cost you around Rs 2,500 per night. 
A single occupancy through Airbnb will cost you approx 1,300 per night. 
For booking hotels, I usually opt for www.makemytrip.comwww.booking.com  or www.agoda.com
You can also book yourself at Taiwan Youth Hostel which will cost you approx Rs 2,500 per night on sharing basis.

picture courtesy: Taiwan today, asia361.com, and ourawesomeplanet.com


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