Cosponsored by the Taiwan Tourism Bureau and the Taipei City Government, the 2023 Taiwan Lantern Festival (台灣燈會) is grandly held in Taipei City from February 2 to 19 to celebrate the Year of the Rabbit. It is Taiwan’s first large-scale international event after all Covid-19 entry restrictions were lifted last October.
For other photos, please watch the video of “the 2023 Taiwan Lantern Festival in Taipei.”
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History of the Taiwan Lantern Festival
The scale of lantern celebrations in Taiwan was relatively small before the first Taiwan Lantern Festival in 1990. Since then, this annual extravaganza has been the largest and most notable event of its kind in Taiwan and has been held in different cities.
The Lantern Festival, also known as Yuan Xiao Festival (元宵節) and hosted by the Tourism Bureau of the Ministry of Transportation and Communications, is the first important festival after the Lunar New Year. It is annually celebrated on the 15th day of the first month in the lunar calendar. This folk tradition ushers in the first full moon of the Lunar New Year while marking the end of the Chinese New Year.
Though Taipei City hadn’t hosted the Taiwan Lantern Festival since 2000, the Taipei City Government did hold a large-scale international event annually called the Taipei Lantern Festival during this period.
The master lantern: ‘Brilliant Light of the Jade Hare’
This year’s Taiwan Lantern festival theme is “Light up the Future.” As the Chinese zodiac animal for this lunar year is the Rabbit, the master lantern is the “Brilliant Light of the Jade Hare” (玉兔壯彩). This striking installation art featuring a 22-meter-tall jade hare in a space suit is exhibited at the Dr. Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall. The master lantern robot is animated with lights and sounds for three minutes every 30 minutes.
The design of this master lantern was inspired by the White Rabbit from Lewis Carroll’s classic story Alice in Wonderland and Taiwan’s leading position in the semiconductor industry. It was created by a famous local artist named Akibo Lee (李明道), while its inscription was written by master calligrapher Chang Ping-huang (張炳煌).
Other magnificent lanterns
In addition to the master lantern, three auxiliary lanterns are displayed at the National Dr. Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall. They are the “Spiral Dragon Brings Prosperity” (蟠龍獻瑞), “Starting From the Heart” (從心出發), and “Leaping into the Future” (躍動未來). Moreover, six theme lanterns are exhibited in the four major display zones, while 16 other large and medium-sized theme lanterns are scattered throughout the Eastern Shopping District.
Featuring the Urban Lantern Festival, there are more than 300 various lantern installation works displayed across all of the city’s 12 administrative districts spanning 168 hectares (415 acres).
The display zones of the Taiwan Lantern Festival
The four major display zones are scattered in the Eastern Shopping District (東區商圈), Xinyi Commercial District (信義商圈), Dr. Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall (國父紀念館), Songshan Cultural and Creative Park (松山文創園區), and the vicinity of Taipei 101. The four major display zones are the Central display zone (中央展區), the Beacons of Light display zone (光展區), the Fount of Light display zone (源展區), and the Lights of the Future display zone (未來展區).
The Central display zone
The Central display zone is divided into two sub-zones. The North sub-zone is located at the National Dr. Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall, and the South sub-zone is located at Taipei City Hall Square.
Besides the master lantern, the three auxiliary lanterns, and several theme-based lanterns installed in the North sub-zone, dozens of beautiful lanterns from Japan, South Korea, Indonesia, Belize, Guam, St. Lucia, as well as Saint Kitts and Nevis are displayed at the International Friendship Lantern Area along the two sides of the Memorial Hall’s main building.
The Beacons of Light display zone (光展區)
Located in the Eastern Shopping District, the Beacons of Light display zone showcases Taipei’s talent and creative might in modern innovation. Among the striking lantern installations in this zone are “First Light,” “Night Night,” “Future Shuttle,” “Rainbow Church,” and “Nesting.”
The Fount of Light display zone (源展區)
This display zone is in the Songshan Cultural and Creative Park, Taipei’s iconic indicator for everyday aestheticism and design cognition. The art installations exhibited there include “Vaavaaw, Heartbeat,” “Light of the Submerged,” “Connect with the Ancestor,” “Full Power with One Heart,” “Companions of the Forest,” “Women Outside the Men’s Bathhouse,” and “Under the stars.”
The Lights of the Future display zone (未來展區)
This display zone is located in the Xinyi Commercial District, where Taiwan’s iconic supertall skyscraper, “Taipei 101,” is located. The works displayed in this zone are “Bunny Bun Bun,” “Dreamcatcher,” “Gathering Pavilion,” “Splendid Seed,” “Growing Time,” “Bravo Station,” “Time Travel+Future Live,” and “Luminous Messenger.”
Even better, Taipei 101 and the Taipei City Government jointly perform a dazzling light projection mapping show every half an hour in the evening.