Taiwan’s World Famous Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival

By John Saboe | Taiwan

Jun 09
A crowd gets ready to release their sky lanterns at the world famous Lunar New Year celebration in Pingxi, Taiwan

A crowd gets ready to release their sky lanterns at the world famous Lunar New Year celebration in Pingxi, Taiwan

The Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival is one of the most popular Lunar New Year Celebrations in Taiwan. People will travel from all over the island just for this event which starts about two weeks before the end of Lunar New Year festivities.

A few years ago The Discovery Channel called it the second best New Year’s festival in the world. It’s caught on so it’s no surprise when I visit to see more Westerners here than anywhere else at any time of year in Taiwan.

I’m checking out one of the first sky lantern releases of the season which is held in the town of Pingxi, less than an hour by car or bus east of the capital of Taipei.

People visit Pingxi and the neighbouring town of Shifin year round to release lanterns but Lunar New Year is the most popular time to come. Each person writes on one of the four sides of the lantern with their own new year’s prayers. You do the customary pose for pictures then release the lantern into the sky.

The first lanterns were used from 220-280 A.D. as a communication tool during war times in China. When the Hans people immigrated from China to Taiwan between 1820-50 the lantern was used to signal to family members that it was safe to return home. Robberies were common at the time in the mountain town of Pingxi.

Every year the festival is held here. The main releases take place on one of the local school grounds.

Pingxi is a beautiful little town and should be visited on a separate trip just to savour some of it’s authentic Taiwanese heritage. Many of the buildings were constructed in the 1930’s and 40’s along with wooden houses built during the Japanese occupation of Taiwan. There’s lots of shops selling traditional crafts and gifts. Some of the most beautifully crafted silk lanterns are produced in Pingxi. Of course because it’s Taiwan, there’s lots of food, including local snacks.

If you have time it’s always fun to take a northbound train to Ruifang, then catch the tourist train to Pingxi. Along the way you can also stop in Shifin and walk to Shifin waterfall which some believe is the nicest one in all of Taiwan.

It is definitely a celebratory atmosphere here in Pingxi with everyone getting in on the new year’s fun. Many people release lanterns with their prayers and wishes from the train tracks which run right through the village.

There’s also a really cool film on the lantern traditions of Pingxi that plays through this lantern shape building throughout the day. OK I’m getting the gong so it’s time to head back to the school grounds and get ready for the first release of the night.

I wasn’t kidding when I said the PIngxi Sky Lantern Festival is a big deal, drawing dignitaries, celebrities and T.V. crews from around the island and the world. And guess what, it didn’t rain afterall-just a little mountain mist.

There’s introductions-then the first group hits the school grounds to get ready for the first sky lantern release of the night. But first, a little musical interlude…Then finally the spotlights are dimmed and the first release of the Lunar New Year begins.

Fodor’s Travel Guides named it one of 14 festivals a person must see in their lifetime. History, tradition and a joyful unique celebration in the hills of Northeastern Taiwan. I would agree this is a remarkable event one must see to complete their experience of Taiwan’s Lunar New Year celebrations! Xin Nian Kaui Le, Happy New Year from the Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival in Taiwan.


About the Author

I am a broadcaster, photographer, writer and videographer with a passion for travel throughout Asia. I love making connections and engaging with people. I am spiritual and seek adventure wherever I go.

Related Posts

Mt. Kailash, Tibet-China-The great gathering below one of the most sacred places on the planet for Buddhists, Hindus, Jains, and people who follow Bon-Mt. Kailash. During Saga Dawa Festival honoring, the birth, enlightenment, and death of Shakyamuni Buddha the Tarboche Pole is raised hopefully to stand straight, which means a good year. Leaning towards Kailash is not good, away is worse. If there’s one crazy thing you could do that quite possibly would shatter your current reality and bring a new unbelievable perspective on life-visit Tibet and do a kora, circumambulation around Mt. Kailash, 3 days. Worked for me! #tibet #buddha #buddhism #hinduism #photojournalism #trekking #india #backpacking #away #tripme #traveling #alone #photooftheday #travelblogger #new#happiness#travelingram #instago #instatravel#traveltheworld #instago #beautifulplace#travelpics#travellife #wildernessculture#instafollow#travellife #igtravel #travelphotography #mountainscape

Kandalama Heritance, Sri Lanka-This is an amazing hotel appearing to be formed out of the side of a mountain and greenery. Sri Lanka is definitely a place worthy of indulging yourself in luxury hotels with fantastic amenities. Close to heritage sites like the fascinating Dambulla Caves Temple and perfectly situated on this reservoir I still remember walking back to my room through the outdoor corridor while the odd bat passed right in front of me. The curry rice and the hoppers, thin pancakes made with coconut milk that I slathered in local jam were outstanding. You’ll probably find Sri Lanka overall a little more expensive than other South Asian destinations but it’s a paradise worth every extra dollar you’ll spend! #srilanka #ceylon #luxuryhotels #podcast #photojournalism #trekking #backpacking #away #tripme #traveling #alone #photooftheday #travelblogger #luxurytravel #new#happiness#travelingram #instago #instatravel#traveltheworld #instago #beautifulplace#travelpics#travellife #wildernessculture#instafollow#travellife

Taiwan’s Convenience Stores-Best Guide For Eating, Drinks, And Services

Taiwan’s Convenience Stores-Best Guide For Eating, Drinks, And Services

Ubud, Bali-This place is everything you want it and need it to be. Spiritual, beautiful, romantic, enlightening, relaxing. For me it literally refreshed my soul from the ravages of corporate life. Walking along a street one morning I almost broke out in tears finally realizing what had happened to me. Less then a year later I left that world never to return. #bali #ubud #hinduism #hindu #tropical #spiritualawakening #nikonusa #king #tombraider #away #tripme #traveling #alone #hindu #photooftheday #new #happiness #travelingram #instago #instatravel #travelworld #instago #beautifulplace #travelpics #travellife #instafollow #travellife #FF #igtravel #followme #travelphotography

Taiwan Convenient Stores-Best Guide For Food, Drinks, Services

Taiwan Convenient Stores-Best Guide For Food, Drinks, Services

Angkor Ruins, Cambodia-That face. Was it the king who built the Bayon Temple or the Bodhisattva of Compassion. It’s something to contemplate as you’re hypnotized by all 216 of them featured on 54 towers. I’ve received many comments and messages about how I was able to get images of the Angkor Ruins without the throngs of people. Careful planning, strategic positioning, and commitment. Anyone can do this if you have the time. Would love to share some tips with people one day at Angkor and Siem Reap. #angkorwat #angkorthom #nikonusa #buddhism #king #tombraider #away #tripme #traveling #alone #photooftheday #new #happiness #travelingram #instago #instatravel #travelworld #instago #beautifulplace #travelpics #travellife #instafollow #travellife #FF #igtravel #followme #travelphotography #cambodia #khmer