The Taiwan Lantern Festival is running into its 31st year this year. This festival is the biggest lantern festival in Taiwan and attracts millions of local and international visitors each year. This year, the festival takes place in Houli, Taichung, where the surrounding forest in Houli meets the dawning lights of the lanterns. The theme of the event is “The dawn lights again, brightens Taichung.”
History of Lantern Festival
So why do Chinese people celebrate the Lantern Festival every year? There were many different stories and legends associated with the event, but the most prominent one is this one. Long ago, a beautiful maid was working for the emperor inside the palace, and she never got to see her family. She was so sad that she wanted to commit suicide. An emperor’s advisor named Dongfang Shuo tried to help her, so he came up with an idea. He advised the emperor that on the 15th lunar calendar day (15th day after Lunar New Year), the God of Fire from heaven will burn down the whole city.
To save the town, everyone must make colorful and bright lanterns and hang them in front of their homes. People should also burn firecrackers and make sweet dumplings on that day because the God of Fire likes to eat sweet dumplings. Also, all people should carry the lanterns onto the street on that day and watch the fireworks. All this will make the city look like it is on fire, and the God of Fire will not burn down the city. And so, the emperor was tricked into what Shuo said and ordered everyone to do as Shuo suggested. On the 15th lunar calendar day, Yuan Xiao’s parents carried their lanterns on the street and were able to reunite with Yuan Xiao. The story is why the Lantern Festival is also called Yuan Xiao Festival in Chinese.
Lantern Festival 2020 – Taichung
This year, there are 3 locations for the event, all located within Taichung.
Wenxin Forest Park
The first location is right in the heart of Taichung, Wenxin Forest Park. The lanterns and lights were already shining at Wenxin Forest Park on Dec 21st, 2019. The park turns into a kids paradise with gigantic animal lanterns representing the 12 Chinese zodiac signs. There is also a tropical rainforest section of many tropical wildlife-themed lanterns. If you happen to be in Taichung city, this location is the easiest to get to by bus or taxi.
Houli Forest Park (Main Exhibition)
The main exhibition of this year’s Taiwan Lantern Festival is in Houli, Taichung. It is around 24km away from Taichung city center. However, there are many free shuttle buses which will take you from the city center to the exhibition. The location is very close to the Houli train station, so if you are taking the train, get off at Houli train station and follow the signs to the park.
There are 12 lantern areas within Houli Forest Park. Perhaps the most impressive light display of the exhibition is the “Guardian of the Forest – Tree of Light.” This tree represents how a tiny seed is nourished and grown into a giant tree, just like how Taiwan has grown over the years. Each part of the tree also represents Taiwan in its own way. First, the 22 bands of the tree trunk stand for Taiwan’s 22 municipalities and counties. The 368 flower buds are Taiwan’s 368 districts and townships, while the 2,359 heart-shaped leaves symbolize the 23.59 million Taiwanese people. This spectacular tree stands right beside the main stage of the exhibition, and you will not miss it.
Another exceptional light display at the event is the illuminating drones in the sky. Many different colors of lit-up drones fly up into the air and combine to make different picture patterns and greetings. During showtime, you can bring your head up and view the spectacular light show in the air.
Once you walk past the “Guardian of the Forest – Tree of Light” display, you will get to the technology light display section. This year, Taiwan Lantern Festival has the honor to hire the world-famous super technology circus from France. Together with the Taiwanese lighting technology and special effects, and the French’s impressive acrobats and robots, this show is a must-watch!
There are many more sections within the Houli Forest Park for you to explore, so be prepared to spend at least 4 hours or more just inside the forest park alone!
Horse Ranch Park Area
The Horse Ranch Park is about a 15-minute walk from the Houli Forest Park Area. Walking through the corridor from the Forest Park to the Horse Ranch Park is a pleasant treat in itself. Along the way, there are beautiful lanterns and decorations perfect for taking some decent photos. Once you get to the Horse Ranch Park, you will discover there are five areas to explore: “Animal Carnival,” “Indigenous Lanterns,” “Prosperous Industries,” “Friendly Cities” and “Ring-Taichung Digital Art.” As you venture into the park, it is like walking into a carnival with music and colorful lanterns around you. The Horse Ranch Park has a smaller area than the Forest Park, so if you have little kids, it is a great idea to start with this section first.
There are so many different things to see at the Taiwan Lantern Festival this year, and this blog cannot cover it all. We urge you to visit this festival if you are in Taichung during this period, it will not disappoint you!
Houli Forest Park & Horse Ranch Park – Feb 8th, 2020 – Feb 23rd, 2020
Wenxin Forest Park – Dec 21st, 2019 – Feb 23rd, 2020
Houli Forest Park – Dashan Road, Houli District, Taichung City
Houli Horse Ranch – No. 41, Sishan Road, Houli District, Taichung City
Wenxin Forest Park – Section 1, Wenxin Road, Nantun District, Taichung City
This link below tells you how to get to the different event areas:
Official event website: