The Tourism Bureau has held Taiwan's Lantern Festival in Taipei since 1990. After 2001, many counties competed to be the host of the glorious festival.
It has been a national celebration event every year. In 2007, Taiwan Lantern Festival was elected one of the Fantastic Festivals of the World by the Discovery Channel.
Main theme lantern, 20.5 meters height(12 me)
Miaoli(苗栗) is the host this year. The theme each year is related to the zodiac animal of the year. It's Hare in 2011.
Miaoli's specialty - wood carving arts
In the beginning, I never thought about visiting the lanterns because I know, based on my earlier experience, that the site would be very badly crowded. I was not interested in watching millions of "Human-head Lanterns" which were much more than the real lanterns.
Blessing lanterns, making a wish nails on the stand
Moreover, Miaoli is an agricultural county, I didn't expect that they can hold the festival appealingly. (Sorry, I have prejudice!)
One day, it was after January 15, I heard Miaoli county's mayor was promoting the activity on the air. He said they planned 16 different topic fields and various performances each day. Stan Lai, a very famous artistic director in Taiwan, also directed a water show for this festival.
Water danceHmm.....it sounds very different from the festival which I had been to. It seems bigger than ever. Maybe it's worth a visit, besides, the last time I went to the festival was at least 10 years ago. I decided to give it a try, especially as this year is R.O.C. year 100.
Then I picked a sunny day and drove to Miaoli. It was a Friday afternoon. The traffic on highway was not heavy. However, when I arrived nearby, there were more and more people. Miaoli is a country side so its roads are not big enough to contain so many cars at the same time. They arranged shuttle buses to the exhibition site.
When I arrived, some people were waiting in line. Come on, is Friday a weekday or weekend? The bus was full of tourists. It really took me some time to get there.(The Food Festival in Chicago was so "CROWD FREE"...)
When I got off the bus, lots of receptionists welcomed us with big smiles. They gave us a tour guide book, a bottle of water and a desert - Hakka Mochi. (Most of the population in Miaoli is Hakkanese. Mochi is Hakkanese common food to treat their honored guests.)
Free Hakka Mochi
Gate of Peace - made with thousands of traditional lanternsWhen I walked in the park, a white giant 100 came into my eyes. 100 years meant a lot. It makes me proud. Being established for 100 years is not easy. There are many dynasties in Chinese history. Republic of China is the 10th dynasty which is established more than 100 years. We have passed Yuan Dynasty officially.
The site was bigger than I thought. I believe there are many thousands lanterns in the park.
Although I had a map in my hand, I had no idea where I should visit first. I was dazzled.
There were hundreds of cute bunny lanterns waving to me on the left side. They were students', citizens' or organizations' works for the competition.
Cute greedy bunny
Happy bunnies made with Hakka factor - Big red flower cloth
A red giant strawberry over there and many star fruit lanterns hung on the tree over my head.
Fruit theme lantern - Strawberry is one of Miaoli's specialty.
There was a fairy tale castle and beautiful pink lantern forest welcoming me on the right side.
The Bremen town musicians - Grimm's
Beehive on the tree
Miaoli is full of traditions. How could it lack a religious theme lantern area!
Cute Chinese god
Chinese AvalokitesvaraThey also made a lantern maze for kids.
Can you count how many people in the maze?
Yanzhou city lantern
Modern LED lanternThose lanterns combined traditions, creativity and arts.There were shows and performances on stages. Fireworks were lightening the sky. The park was bustling.
Although there were thousands of people, I was too busy to notice them. The density was acceptable on that day.
The news reported there were 1,540,000 people in the park on that Saturday. The number of persons broke all the attendance records. Many people couldn't get in the train and some people were fainting and in shock when they arrived. I felt so lucky that I went there one day earlier.
Miaoli has sparkled my eyes this time! I left Taiwan too long to notice Taiwan's progress on holding festivals. Taiwan Lantern Festival is amazing. I am already looking forward to the 2012 Dragon Year Taiwan's Lantern Festival in Lukang(鹿港), which is a small town full of Taiwan's traditional cultures and delicious food.
FOOD market is a MUST in festival!
Dragon ~ See you next year!
Please come and join the party, you won't regret. The festival is usual hold for 2 weeks during the middle of the Lunar New Year in January. You won't want to miss it.
Just a suggestion, NEVER NEVER NEVER come here on weekends or holidays~ OR you might need to bring an oxygen cylinder.