Welcome to the 2019 Taiwan Lantern Festival! Be amazed by larger-than-life lantern displays, by thousands of visually spectacular lantern creations over more than 38 hectares of land and 200 hectares of water. Every year, the Taiwan International Lantern Festival rotates among different hosting cities within the country, with this year’s festival being held in Pingtung County, Southern Taiwan. This notable year marks the 30th anniversary of the annual celebration with thousands of crowds gathering to see the fireworks ceremony and stunning light-up creations open to the public from February 19-March 3, 2019 for free. To make things a little different, the local government chose the “Giant Tuna“—a symbol of wealth and the leading produce of Ping Tung—as the main lantern, breaking the norm of using the Chinese zodiac as the theme image, although the pig will still be a prevalent lantern motif throughout the festival. Here’s what you can expect… TAIWAN LANTERN FESTIVAL 2019 Feb 15 – March 3 Ping Tung, Southern Taiwan website: www.2019taiwanlantern.taiwan.net.tw https://flic.kr/p/24jnZ1i Every year, the Taiwan Lantern Festival celebrates its opening on the 15th day of the first month in the lunar calendar. https://flic.kr/p/2eReqas There will be five important themes among the 15 lantern areas, with recurring themes of food and harvest, indigenous tribes, history, pop culture and eco-tourism. https://flic.kr/p/24jGKSg Enter the large reception gate modeled after Hengchun South Gate and made with the traditional art of paper cutting. https://flic.kr/p/2eWfyUD The local Pingtung culture is a key theme in the festival. As a coastal county, there are plenty of marine elements in their Under the Sea Lantern Area. https://flic.kr/p/24jFi7e Notably, the main lantern is a giant 16-meter tall bluefin tuna, a product that’s synonymous with fishing in the local area. They use the light from the outside to shine on the main lantern, very different from the past when the lights shone from within. The lighting of the main lantern marks the opening of the official ceremony. It’s a must-watch show filled with fireworks and dancing fountain displays! (I think everyone would agree they didn’t skimp on the budget! Ang Ganda!) Tip: You can catch it again on the closing ceremony! https://flic.kr/p/2dQd9z7 It’s followed by a drone show that formed the words Taiwan, Ping Tung (屏東) and Taiwanese symbols! Amazing! https://flic.kr/p/2eW8ZHv Aside from dazzling displays to marvel at, continuos folk-culture activities, live entertainment and art installations entertain the guests, giving them the opportunity to explore more of Taiwan’s modern and indigenous culture. https://flic.kr/p/24jndpz (Makopa lanterns to light the way for visitors) Ping Tung is an important agricultural county, so it’s only fair to see plenty of fruits and vegetables as their motif. The fruits are extremely cheap compared to Taipei prices! So make sure to grab a few before heading back to the capital! https://flic.kr/p/2eVQ9ri Did you know that there are more than 16,000 lanterns on display? https://flic.kr/p/2dx2zhP Besides hiring local craftsmen to create these innovative marvels, they also had most of the lanterns donated by corporations, students and religious groups to make the festival even more exciting. https://flic.kr/p/RardnB What makes this year different from the previous spring festivals in the past is the innovation of integrating the lanterns with technology using mostly eco-friendly materials and solar powered energy! https://flic.kr/p/SN1oeS Modeled after “Tudigong,” the Earth God transforms himself into a farmer, wishing happiness and good harvest every year. (You can see the interactive display shoot smoke from the sides. ) https://flic.kr/p/SMHjVw The New Immigrant Lantern represents the diversity of immigrants who live harmoniously in Ping Tung. https://flic.kr/p/2dQeKSE If you look closely, you can see that the intertwined steel structure has over 300 oyster shells strung together. https://flic.kr/p/Rarr8M Hello Kitty lantern display. https://flic.kr/p/2dPJo9s Picture perfect light illuminations. https://flic.kr/p/RarnmP Lots of cute piggy lanterns representing this year’s zodiac animal. https://flic.kr/p/SN7iKE My favorite is the Hakka Culture Lantern installation that looks like floating lanterns! So magical! https://flic.kr/p/SMHaFu This is not your typical red Chinese Lantern. The displays come in many colors and take just about any size, shape and form you can imagine. https://flic.kr/p/SN7pto In addition, the Pingtung County Government and Kao Chi Travel Co., Ltd. are working together on offering a cruise to enjoy the lanterns by sea. https://flic.kr/p/24jGRx4 It’s also a street food paradise! One of my favorite parts of the trip is sampling different Taiwanese street food that I’ve been craving to try. Ping Tung specialties include tuna, fish rolls, sakura shrimp and fruits! (I’m not sure if you’ll find these inside the festival grounds though.) https://flic.kr/p/SMGKLL Things to take note: – Wear comfortable shoes as there will be a lot of walking from one lantern area to another. – Make sure to get a map or download the app of the festival venue to get around. – No need to bring food and drinks as there is plenty of street food vendors. – There are tourist information and mobile stations available in all 7 languages should you need assistance. – In case you don’t have a car, shuttle buses are free to bring you in and out of the venue. – Expect long lines as entrance is free to the public. – For more information about the Taiwan Lantern Festival, please visit its official website www.2019taiwanlantern.taiwan.net.tw/en/. In an effort to manage the large crowds, free shuttles stop carrying visitors into the park at 8 p.m., and the last shuttle taking tourists out of the park departs at 11 p.m. Congratulations on a successful event! Cheers! TAIWAN LANTERN FESTIVAL 2019 Feb 15 – March 3 Ping Tung, Southern Taiwan website: www.2019taiwanlantern.taiwan.net.tw Live an Awesome Life, ABI of Team Our Awesome Planet Disclosure: We were media guests of the Taiwan Government and Taiwan Economic Cultural Office. I wrote this article with my biases, opinions and insights.