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Light Up with Taiwan’s legendary Lantern Festival

Light Up with Taiwan’s legendary Lantern Festival
Category: Seasonal Holidays

Held on the first full-moon night of the lunar year, the Lantern Festival is commonly regarded as one of the most important and romantic festivals in Taiwan. The festival is celebrated with lantern making, lantern riddle games, and displays of glittering decorative lanterns. The traditional festival food are glutinous rice dumplings with sweet or savory stuffings called Tangyuan that comes in many different choices of flavors. Sesame, peanut, red bean paste and minced pork are the most common and popular flavors, while new flavors such as taro, green tea, and sweet osmanthus preserves have also been attracting fans in recent years.

The origin of the festival lies in the festive activities of an agricultural people celebrating the lengthening of daylight hours and the coming of spring after the New Year. Other legends have it that the festival was actually started by an emperor of the Han dynasty (206 B.C. – 220 A.D.), who was a devout Buddhist and who ordered his people to display lights on the fifteenth night of the first month of the lunar year to pay respects to Buddha. According to the same legend, holding torches or lanterns on this night makes it easier to see deities descending from heaven to give blessings to the earth. Yet another legend has it that in the Tang dynasty, the emperors would celebrate the festival by ordering hundreds of beautiful women to sing and dance with lanterns in the brightly lit plaza. These festive activities gradually spread to the common people and developed into the most popular festival in the year after Chinese New Year. The festival is also called the Little New Year. In the old days, these festivities, together with the celebrations for the Chinese New Year, would last for as long as forty-five days. Nowadays the festival lasts for a week.

Many lantern festival events are held all over Taiwan to promote local tourism. In 1990, the Taiwan Tourism Bureau held the first Taipei Lantern Festival, which injected a whole new life into the event. It has become a major tourist event in Taiwan over the years. Thanks to the advancements of modern technology, every year a gigantic lantern installation is erected in the middle of the plaza of the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, usually carrying the theme in line with the Chinese horoscope sign of that year. The lantern installation includes performances combining laser lights, music and sculptural arts. On the four sides of the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall, smaller lantern installations depict folklore and historical events, and large multi-colored lanterns, many in the likeness of different plants and animals such as butterflies, dragons, dinosaurs and birds, are hung up along the road. You can also find interesting live folk performances such as lion and dragon dances, acrobatic acts, folk art skits, mock battles, and booths that demonstrate and sell traditional handicrafts such as fan painting, lantern making, dough sculpture, candy-figure blowing, paper cutting, Chinese knotwork, and many delicious snacks and sweets. During the festival period, a tunnel of lights is put up on the roads of Taipei, dressing up the whole city with glittering lights. Every year the event attracts tens of thousands of people from around Taiwan and other countries in the region, making it one of the biggest tourist highlights in Asia at the beginning of every year.

In 2016, the festival is slated to run from February 22 to March 6, 2016 and will celebrate the Year of the Monkey under the theme "Golden Monkey Offering Peaches." The Taiwan Tourism Bureau will present the festival’s main and secondary lanterns along with the Welcome Lantern Area, Blessing Lantern Forest, Theme Lantern Curtain, Exchange Lantern Area, Competition Lantern Area, Traditional Lantern Area and Joyous Lantern Area. The Taoyuan City Government will bring light and shadow together at the "Smart Technology Lantern Area" highlighting Taoyuan's smart city image. The city is also planning the dream-like "Fairytale Kingdom Lantern Area" highlighting local tourism factory attractions and the the 500-plus-meter long "Taoyuan Story Lantern Corridor." There will also be a "Diverse Exchange Lantern Area," a friendly city exchange display joined by the renowned Lamigo baseball team and fusing elements from the diverse ethnic groups in Taoyuan, while the "New Peach Blossom Spring Lantern Area" will present a spectacular show of landscape art at scenic Qingtang Park. Local and international friends are all welcome to join the fun and experience the charms of Taoyuan during the Taiwan Lantern Festival. 

Essential Taiwan...

Administrative and Commercial Capital: Taipei
Geography: Located 180 kilometers off the southeastern coast of China, Taiwan has an area of 35,881 km2 (13,853.7 sqmi).
Demography: A population of close to 23 Million. Muslims account for about 0.3% of the population.
Climate: The best time to travel is between October to April as the average temperature in Taipei, Taiwan is 21.6 °C (71 °F).
Language: Taiwanese Hokkien, commonly called "Taiwanese", is the language with the most native speakers. English is widely spoken and the Taiwanese are very mild, polite and friendly people.
Local Time: +4:0 hours. Taipei is 4:0 hours ahead of the UAE. That means when it is 9:00 am in Dubai, it is 1:00 pm in Taipei.
Flights: There are a number of direct flights and ones with stops between UAE and Taiwan. The flying time between Taiwan and UAE is 8 hrs, 42 minutes approximately.
Currency: 1 Taiwan Dollars equals 0.12 AED