Nothing represents the mood of celebration better than a great display of fireworks. The best known display is probably the one on New Year’s eve at Taipei 101, where all kinds of ingenuity is expended on creating a magnificent show in a totally unsuitable environment. It is a wonderful sight, but Penghu County believes that it can put on a better show, and with the Penghu Fireworks Festival (澎湖海上花火節), it aims to prove this point over and over again, with a total of 20 fireworks displays taking place between April 18 and June 24.
The Fireworks Festival began in 2003 as a response to a China Airlines crash near the archipelago on May 25, 2002, that killed 19 crewmembers and 206 passengers. Following the accident, tourism to Penghu plummeted, and the county government struggled to find ways to bring visitors back to the islands. A series of variety shows were put on to commemorate the event, opening with a big display of fireworks. The variety shows have been forgotten, but with this rather bizarre commemorative event, the Penghu Fireworks Festival was born.
The event has become an integral part of Penghu’s tourism calendar and this year was nominated for selection as one of 22 “international tourism events” in Taiwan. This follows close on the heels of Penghu joining The Most Beautiful Bays in the World Club, a France-based group that brings together the most exciting scenic bays around the world.
In addition to the fireworks, a program of concerts has also been organized to enhance the celebratory mood of the event. They range from small local performance groups such as the street dance team of the National Penghu University of Science and Technology (澎湖科技大學) to established groups such as The Chairman (董事長樂團) and Mayday (五月天).
The festival is also offering a variety of package deals including airfare, accommodation and various activities throughout the day. These activities are a great way of getting to know the islands better, and include half-day “experience” of kayaking, windsurfing, tours of scenic sights and introductions to local specialties. Prices start at NT$5,600 for a two-day, one-night package. The fireworks event will be centered on Kuanyinting Park (觀音亭園區), which provides stunning views of the Siying Archway Bridge (西瀛虹橋), over which the fireworks will blossom in all their glory.
Many guesthouses on Penghu have special deals for visitors coming to the islands to enjoy the fireworks, the icing on the cake of the location’s natural scenic splendor. More information can be found at the festival Web site at penghufireworks.weebly.com.