We’ve all heard about Chinese New Year, but how much do you know about the Pingxi Lantern Festival? While it may be a lesser known date in the Chinese calendar, this enchanting spectacle is certainly a memorable experience for all who are lucky enough to venture to this remote part of Taiwan to take part in it.
Also known as the Sky Lantern Festival, this event sees visitors gather in Pingxi, about a 40-minute drive east from Taipei, to gently release thousands of glowing paper lanterns into the night sky. Visitors write wishes and prayers to the gods on their lanterns before sending them soaring up into the heavens. The lanterns are created from oiled rice paper, bamboo filaments, sheepskin, satin or silk. A lit candle sits in the base, providing the heat which gives the lantern its lift.
While festivals of this type take place right across Asia, Pingxi’s is certainly among the most famous, attracting large numbers of tourists to the region every February. As expected, a great deal of crowd control is needed to keep visitors safe and to ensure lanterns are released in unison. As people arrange themselves and light their candles, a sense of unity and anticipation builds, as the crowd eagerly waits for the lanterns to float upwards. It’s a truly inspiring sight to see each individual lantern slowly dissolve into a glowing sea of prayers and flickering lights.
While Chinese New Year celebrates the Lunar New Year, the Lantern Festival marks the end of these celebrations, which last for 15 days. These events are two halves of the one whole – Chinese New Year delivers the noise, the colour and spectacle, while the Lantern Festival is a more thoughtful, peaceful and sombre way to wind down proceedings.
Pingxi District is the perfect antidote to the fast-paced intensity of Taipei City. Life moves at a glacial pace in this charming corner of the world. Apart from the festival, a visit to the local police station is recommended. The sky lantern shaped building standing nine metres tall is the world’s only glass curtain, blessing the night sky in an array of colours, it certainly has the Pingxi glow.
This region also offers spectacular hikes, river pools, towering waterfalls and even Houtong Cat Village, which is inhabited by hundreds of cats who were once abandoned. There are also the remnants of a once-thriving coal industry. It’s a fascinating place to discover.
Want to know more? Click here to read our blog on CM City: Taipei, Taiwan and discover more wonders of this beautifully breathtaking city…