Taiwan is a shining jewel of East Asia. It’s a state filled with ultramodern wonders, beautiful landscapes, rich cultural heritages, and friendly people. But the sights, attractions, food, and people are not the only elements that make Taiwan a world-class tourist destination. Taiwan’s different festivals, celebrated with extreme fervour and passion, are some of the must-experience events that visitors must experience.
Most of the religious and cultural festivals follow the Chinese lunar calendar. Thus their corresponding dates in the Gregorian calendar have the tendency to fluctuate each year. Here are some of the festivals that you should experience when you’re visiting Taiwan.
* Chinese New Year – celebrated in the lunar month of January and signalling the start of the Chinese year, the Chinese New Year is no less than the most important festival of Taiwan. Everywhere in Taiwan, there are fireworks extravaganzas. Families gather together for lavish meals and give gifts to each other. Friends and colleagues exchange lucky money placed in small envelopes. The streets come alive with colours, music, and revelry as fairs, parties, and parades are held.
* Lantern Festival – following the Chinese New Year on the same month is the Lantern Festival. Glowing is an understatement when describing this event. As the name of the event implies, the Lantern Festival involves lighting thousands of beautiful, colourful lanterns. In some areas, paper lanterns are launched and floated into the sky. Loud and vibrant fireworks contests abound.
* Dragon Boat Festival – celebrated on June, the colourful and exciting Dragon Boat Festival captures the hearts of sportsmen. Dragon boat races participated by both local and international athletes are held in many areas around Taiwan. Thousands of fans stand by bridges and the banks of rivers to cheer for their favourite dragon boat team. You can also check out the exhibits of folks arts and crafts, food stalls, and parties that line up on the streets during the festival.
* Harvest Festival – this is a seven-day celebration that is observed on the months of July, August, and September each year. Ethnic groups and farmers in Taiwan harvest crops, bake moon cakes, and give thanks to their ancestors and gods. These tributes are observed through rituals. After the rituals, families gather together to eat dinner, dance, and play games together. If possible, go to the countryside to experience an authentic Harvest Festival.
* Qing Shan King Sacrificial Ceremony – this festival, which celebrates the birth of the deity Quin Shang King, is observed between October 20 and 22 of the Lunar calendar. Bodhisattvas (enlightened, respected Buddhist elders) tour the Wanhua district to bless the place and ward off evil spirits. You might also find the windows and doors of local households in the district shut down; this is to prevent evil spirits from going inside the house. The Bodhisattvas entourage go around the district all night and ends around 3 or 4 AM the next morning. The morning after, millions of traditional biscuits called Xian Guang Bing are exchanged by loved ones and friends.
* Weiya – this is a traditional annual festival to show respect to Tu Di Gong, the Taiwanese earth god of wealth and merit. For ordinary employees, this is a very highly anticipated event as their employers and bosses treat them to a traditional banquet. It is a way for business owners to thank their employees for all the hard work they’ve done. Additionally, many employers may give their subordinates “lucky money” as a sign of gratitude.
Remember that a visit to another country becomes more enlightening when you immerse in the culture of the locals. Celebrations are definitely part of a country’s culture. Thus, make it a point to experience a celebration when you visit Taiwan.