As the finale of the Lunar New Year celebrations, the Lantern Festival, also known as the Yuanxiao Festival (元宵節), is one of the three most important Taiwanese traditional festivals. It falls on the 15th day of the first lunar month, and is the very first festival after the Lunar New Year. Therefore, various carnival-like celebrations are held across Taiwan at this time of the year.
Please watch the following video of the 2018 Taiwan Lantern Festival:
One of the most striking highlights of the Lantern Festival celebrations in Taiwan this year is the one sponsored by the Tourism Bureau, Ministry of Transportation and Communications. The 2018 Taiwan Lantern Festival was held with fanfare in Chiayi County in southern Taiwan from March 2 to March 11.
Covering over 50 hectares of land, the 2018 Taiwan Lantern Festival is divided into seven areas with 18 different themes, with the aim to bring together tourism, technology, culture, and art to showcase Chiayi County’s renewed traditions and creativity.
As 2018 is the Year of the Dog, according to the Chinese zodiac, and the fact that loyalty is a trait of dogs, the theme of the 2018 Taiwan Lantern Festival was the meaningful Chinese expression “忠義天成 (chung i t’ien ch’eng),” which translates into “the quality of loyalty endowed by nature.”
The Main Lantern symbolizes a smiling indigenous child standing on Alishan (Ali Mountain阿里山) along with his loyal indigenous Taiwanese dog to look at the sea of clouds in Alishan.
It has about 20,000 sets of lighting circuit systems, in which the high-efficiency full-color LED light sets can show the most beautiful and brilliant visual feast to visitors.
In addition to the Main Lantern, one of the most popular works is the Fa Boat provided by the Taiwan Falun Dafa Association. It is the fourth consecutive year this 6-story Fa Boat has participated in the main lantern festival sponsored by Taiwan’s Tourism Bureau. The grand Fa Boat can hold up to 50 people at the same time, and is the only giant lantern float that allows visitors to get onto it.
There are 12 lotus petals outside the golden boat. Its sails are decorated with nine rotating Falun symbols in different colors. On top of the three masts are three flags with golden characters bearing “Truthfulness (真),” “Compassion (善),” and “Tolerance (忍).” The Fa Boat lantern looked solemn and glorious in the sun, and splendid at night.
There are over 1,000 exquisite lanterns of all sizes and shapes on display. Among them are two pairs of giant lanterns, the “Hundred-Flower Welcome Gate” (百花迎賓門) and the “Hundred-tree Welcome Gate” (百樹迎賓門).
The design of the former one was inspired by the National Palace Museum’s decorative image of the “hundred-flower.” It symbolizes a divine tree reaching out its branches and the flowers of Chiayi.
The “Hundred-tree Welcome Gate” is created with the concept of “trees within trees.” The geometric art is highlighted by local fruits — such as pears, tomatoes, and oranges — suggesting that Chiayi is a fertile county.
Moreover, some 100,000 hand-held small lanterns are given out to visitors, making everyone feel the joy of the Lantern Festival.