While any time of the year is a great time to visit Taiwan, many travelers like to know when the big draws take place, the seasonal events that collect people from around the state and across the world. Or, you already have your trip scheduled, and want to know if there is a “can’t miss” affair taking place while you’re there. Whatever the case may be, you’re certainly coming to the right South Asia region, as Taiwan is home to some of the most interesting, engaging, and downright fun festivals and festivities. Whether you’re in search of culture or a simple flare for the dramatic (or both) attending the following annual events will give you memories to last a lifetime.
5 Yearly Events in Taiwan That You Must Attend (if you can)
1. Taichung Mazu International Festival – March to April
We referenced the Taichung Mazu International Festival in our recent article about the Best 5 Temples to Visit in Taiwan, where we affectionately referenced it as Mazu March Mania (although it sometimes runs in April). The festival celebrates the birthday of Mazu (Chinese sea-goddess) and honors the annual Mazu Pilgrimage, which is an eight to nine day 400 kilometer pilgrimage with over 200,000 participants. While the pilgrimage itself counts a couple hundred thousand in it’s fold, there are approximately 5 million attendees, spread over the multi-city crusade. Attendees will enjoy performing arts, spiritual ceremonies, cultural activities, great food, and more photo opportunities you could ever imagine. With Mazu being the most celebrated god in Taiwan, this is quite possibly the biggest event of the year, and one that should not be missed if you can plan accordingly. Dajia Mazu Temple is the hot spot, but anywhere in Taichung will feel especially festive at this time. In 2019, the event runs from mid-March into mid-April, but be sure to check back for exact dates in 2020 and beyond.
2. Yansfhui Fireworks “Beehive” Festival – 14th and 15th day (February) of Lunar New Year
image: edited from gototaiwan.net
As one of the biggest fireworks displays in the world, the event gets a lot of buzz as over one million firecrackers and rockets are ignited to attract a nearly equal number of eyes to Tainan City each year. From a cultural significance perspective, the belief is that the festival acts as a “baptism of fireworks”, which rids Taiwan and its people of calamity and misfortune, burning away malicious influences while delivering good fortune for the new year to come. The affair is nicknamed the “Beehive Festival” as numerous launching towers (aka beehives) are densely stacked with small stick-like rocket fireworks, and go off simultaneously, sounding like a giant swarm. It’s actually considered lucky to be struck by a rocket at the Yansfhui festival, but we do not recommend standing anywhere near the line of fire. Keep a safe (far) distance and enjoy the show. This is one event where using a local guide makes a lot of sense, as they will know the best place to watch without getting hit with a rocket – a surefire way to ruin any vacation!
Taiwan “Pingxi Sky” Lantern Festival – Begins on 15th day (February) of Lunar New Year
If standing in the line of fire of around one-million firecrackers is a little too heavy (above), there’s another way to see a breathtaking light show in Taiwan. The Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival is a thing of beauty, During the festival, thousands of individual paper lanterns are released to fly over the Pingxi district (in New Taipei) to create an illuminated canopy. Legend has it that each lantern contains the prayers, hopes, and dreams of its maker (and household), redefining the practice of wishing upon a star in the night sky. The two week event (all festivities included) actually runs simultaneously as the one-day Yansfhui Fireworks Festival, so with the right view, you may be able to see both manmade phenomenon occurring in the North and South. For the best views, along with tips on when to go and how to get there, we suggest that you connect with a local guide.
Taiwan Balloon Festival – June to August
Yet again we take to the sky when it comes to the best festivals in Taiwan. But alas this event mixes things up a bit, lighter on culture but heavy on fun and sightseeing. This hot air balloon festival is one of the best in the world, running all summer long from June to August (exact dates vary by year) amidst big blue skies and delightful temperatures of Luye Highland, a natural terrace close to Yong’an Village in the Luye Township of Taitung County. Dozens upon dozens of delightfully designed hot air balloons rest on the rolling green landscape (allowing attendees to snap close-up photos) and take to the sky in succession as the event runs through the season. Some balloons are traditional, others appear as animated as a Pixar film character, but all are colorful and simply wonderful. Any day is a good day to visit and have an impromptu picnic while sitting amidst the grandeur of the outdoor affair, but there is also a great event schedule. Events include eight music concerts, a camping experience, and of course hot air balloon rides. View more about the festival here, and be sure to connect to a local guide via Loci Amica to take you there.
Spring Scream Music Festival – April or May
We’d be remiss to not include something for modern music fans and Millennials alike, which is why we’re concluding this “can’t miss” list with one of the top music festivals in Taiwan. The Spring Scream is an outdoor music festival that runs in April (sometimes May, such as in 2019) each year at Kenting in Pingtung County. Duration varies by year, running anywhere from two to five days. The festival showcases an eclectic collection of music styles, with both local Taiwanese bands and others arriving from overseas, including Asia, Europe, and North America. Each year, the festival honors the astrological animal of the Lunar New Year, and adds the animal’s name to the event and accompanying swag. With around 300 acts on 7 to 10 stages, there is something for every fan of modern independent music, with a touch Taiwanese flavor. View the Spring Scream Facebook Page for information about the most recent event.
Again, all of the above may be better enjoyed by having a local guide pick you up, take you there, and to help you navigate through the experience. Download the Loci Amica app to learn more.