The Pingxi Lantern Festival in New Taipei has some of the most popular attractions in Northern Taiwan, and is known as one of the best festivals in the world. Thousands of lanterns are set off during the festival, to celebrate the traditional Chinese Spring Lantern Festival Holiday. It is definitely worth experience if you are in Taiwan during Lantern Festival.
The practice of lighting off sky lanterns in Taiwan began in Shifen, when during the Qing Dynasty local villagers would flee into the mountains during raids from bandits. Once the bandits had left, the remaining villagers sent sky lanterns into the air to let the fleeing villagers know that it was safe to come down from the mountains.
The people of Shifen send off sky lanterns as a symbol of peace, and celebrate every year during Lantern Festival (元宵節), a Chinese holiday.
Setting off sky lanterns as a tourist attraction began in the 1990's and you can find people lighting off lanterns every day from Shifen. Since 1990 the Lantern Festival has been held every year (expect 2021 due to COVID-19).
The Pingxi Lantern Festival is part of larger festivities around Taiwan at the time, known as the Taiwan Lantern Festival.
Because of the hundreds of sky lanterns set off every day, this creates an environmental problem with lantern trash piling around the forests and mountains of Pingxi District. The local people and volunteers help to clean up, but because of the tourism allure associated with lighting off the sky lanterns, it seems that this practice is not going away anytime soon.
The Lantern Festival is usually held for the entire week that Lantern Festival falls on, which is the 15th day of the first month of the Lunar New Year. Setting off hundreds of lanterns at night is usually done during the evenings.
How to get there:
By Train: Take the TRA to Ruifang Station, buy the Pingxi Railway line one day pass, and then switch to the Pingxi Railway line. Get off at any station! The main lantern setting is done at Shifen Square, which is right next to the Shifen Waterfall parking lot.
By Car/Scooter: Take provincial highway 2 east toward Pinglin, then get off the main highway once you reach Shifen. You can drive right or left to reach all of the stations on the Pingxi Railway line. But please know there is limited car parking around the stations.
Please see below:
The Dragon Boat Festival (aka Double Fifth Festival) is a special time of year, during which Taiwan gets a major holiday vacation and there are Dragon Boat Races. During this time, people also must eat Zongzi. We have created this guide for you to see the official dragon boat races all around Taiwan and understand more about this special cultural festival.
Originally Dragon Boat Festival may have started during the Qin Dynasty as a day to remove evil spirits and bad luck that were thought to appear on the fifth day of the fifth month.
The best known origin story for the Dragon Boast Festival is that it commemorates the death of Qu Yuan, a famous poet and official of the Chu Dynasty during the Warring States Period. He opposed the Chu Dynasty joining an alliance with the Qin, and therefore was banished. When the Qin Dynasty finally took over the Chu Dynasty, he committed suicide by entering the Miluo River (汨羅江 Mìluójiāng) and drowning himself.
It was said that the local people went looking for him by rowing dragon shaped canoes, and threw sticky rice balls into the water so that the fish would eat the rice and not Qu Yuan's body. Because of this, during Dragon Boat Festival everyone eats stick rice, or Zongzi, and holds dragon boat races to commemorate Qu Yuan's memory.
Another tradition is for people to balance eggs, which is thought to bring good luck during the "unlucky" holiday.
Dragon Boat races usually involve a team rowing together, while someone beats a drum to keep rhythm and someone else stands at the front of the boat to catch the flag.
Dragon Boat Festival is an official holiday in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau, China, and is celebrated by Chinese heritage communities throughout Asia and the world.
When is Dragon Boat Festival?
The fifth day of the fifth month of the lunar calendar.
2020: June 25th
2021: June 14th
2022: June 3rd
2023: June 22nd
2024: June 10th
2025: May 31st
When are Dragon Boat Races in Taiwan?
Training starts about a month before Dragon Boat Festival
The actual races begin a few days before or on Dragon Boat Festival, and can last a few days after as well. Races usually last the whole day.
Where are Dragon Boat Races in Taiwan?
Taipei International Dragon Boat Championships: 國際龍舟錦標賽
Dates: (June 25-June 26 2020)
Location: Dajie Riverside Park 大佳河濱公園 (under Dazhi Bridge going to Neihu near the airport along the Keelung River. There is parking at the riverside park, but it can get very crowded late in the day).
Tainan International Dragon Boat Championships: 台南市國際龍舟賽 (June 23-June 25)
Dates: (June 25-June 26 2020)
Location: Yunhe River in Tainan Between Anyi Bridge and Chengtian Bridge, near Anping Old Street 臺南市運河（安億橋至承天橋河段）
Kaohsiung Love River Dragon Boat Festival: 高雄愛河端午龍舟嘉年華
Dates: (Cancelled in 2020 due to COVID-19)
Location: The Love River between Kaohsiung Bridge and Zhongzheng Bridge (愛河， 高雄橋-中正橋).
Changhua Taiwan International Dragon Boat Races 台灣國際競技龍舟錦標賽
Dates:(Cancelled in 2020 due to COVID-19)
Location: Lukang, along the FuLu River near Lukang Old Street (彰化福鹿溪水域)
Yunlin Dragon Boat Races 雲林龍舟賽
Dates: (June 25-June 26)
Location: Kouhu Township, Yiwu Wet Pond at the north pond (本縣口湖鄉宜梧滯洪池北池)Price:
Please see below for a map of dragon boat racing locations.
We are US Expats that have extensive experience living, working, and travelling in Taiwan. In our day, we had to learn many things about Taiwan the hard way. But we have come to learn that Taiwan is one of the best places in the world for Foreigners to live. Our blog does not represent the opinions of every foreigner in Taiwan. We are just trying to help others learn more about this beautiful country.