Tue, Feb 15, 2011 - Page 13 News List

Pingsi Sky Lantern Festival: Let your wishes soar to the sky
平溪放天燈 讓心願上升

Sky lanterns float up into the night as a form of prayer for good luck and blessings. The last major event of the Pingsi Sky Lantern Festival will be held at Shihfen Lantern Square in Pingsi District, New Taipei City on the official Lantern Festival day celebration the day after tomorrow.
祈福天燈在天空冉冉上升。平溪天燈節最後一場活動將於後天元宵節在新北市平溪區十分天燈廣場舉行。

Photo courtesy of New Taipei City Government
照片由新北市政府提供

There is a popular saying that there are “Sky lanterns up north, beehive rockets down south.” The former refers to New Taipei City’s Pingsi Sky Lantern Festival, and the latter refers to Greater Tainan’s Yanshui Beehive Rockets Festival. Both events are celebrated on the Lantern Festival, which falls on the 15th day of the Lunar New Year. According to folk custom, sky lanterns and firecrackers are ways of praying for peace and prosperity, so the more there are, the better.

The 13th Pingsi Sky Lantern Festival this year, which is based on the theme of “Hope for Taiwan, Vitality in New Taipei City,” celebrates Taiwan’s centennial and New Taipei City’s promotion to special municipality status. To mark these events, renowned calligrapher Chang Ping-huang has been invited to write auspicious Chinese characters on lanterns.

When watching sky lanterns carrying prayers slowly flying heavenward, it is hard not to feel impressed and touched by the visual splendor. At a total of three major events — on Feb. 6, Feb. 12, and Feb. 17 — thousands of lanterns are given away for free to visitors with other freebies for visitors arriving by train or shuttle bus. If you miss the first two events, you have one last chance to brighten up the night sky free of charge on the day of the annual Lantern Festival this coming Thursday. The event, held at Shihfen Lantern Square, on Thursday will also feature singers Hsu Chia-ying, Jing Huang, Crowd Lu, and others to make the event more exciting.

The History and Attractions

Pingsi, in a rural district in the eastern part of New Taipei City, was an important coal mining town in the early 20th century. The coal mine museum is located near Shihfen Station on the narrow-gauge Pingsi train line, and the Jingtong Mining Industry Museum is near the Jingtong station. In addition to sky lanterns, there are also other tourist attractions along the Pingsi branch line, near Jingtong, Pingsi, Lingjiao, Wanggu, Shihfen, Dahua, and other stations. Also, one of sources of the Keelung River originates in Jingtong.

坊間流傳「北天燈、南蜂炮」順口溜,指的就是農曆正月十五元宵節兩大民俗慶典 ─ 新北市平溪天燈節與台南市鹽水蜂炮。習俗上,天燈與蜂炮皆可祈福,放愈多象徵福氣愈旺。

今年邁入第十三年的平溪天燈節,主題是「希望臺灣、新北好Young」,祈求台灣建國百年與新北市升格首年,如天燈般充滿希望、活力十足。這次活動特地邀請書法家張炳煌在天燈題吉祥字,為國祈福。

看著天燈帶著滿天祈福話語冉冉上升時,很少有人不被這般壯麗視覺震撼所感動。天燈節分別在二月六日、十二日與十七日舉辦三場大型活動,民眾可領取限量免費天燈,搭乘火車與接駁專車的民眾亦可領取紀念品。錯過前兩場的民眾,後天元宵節當天在十分天燈廣場還有今年最後一次免費點亮天空的機會,活動還請到歌手徐佳瑩、黃靖倫、盧廣仲等,炒熱現場氣氛。

歷史與景點

平溪位於新北市東部的鄉下地區,在二十世紀初是個重要的礦場。台灣煤礦博物館就在十分車站附近,而菁桐礦業生活館就在菁桐車站附近。平溪除了可以放天燈外,還有許多旅遊景點分布在平溪支線各站沿線,包含菁桐、平溪、嶺腳、望古、十分與大華等車站。另外,基隆河其中一個源頭就在菁桐。

Transportation

A large crowd is expected to flock to Pingsi during the Lantern Festival; therefore, visitors are advised to take the train,

a shuttle bus or other public transportation. In addition to being a cheap way to get there, it is also a novel way which will allow you to appreciate things from a different angle, not to mention reduce your carbon footprint. Visitors can take the shuttle bus from the Taipei Zoo near the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) Muzha Station between 10am and 7pm. The bus will take you all the way to the Jingan suspension bridge near Shihfen Station. The shuttle bus returning from Pingsi to Taipei City runs until midnight.

交通資訊

元宵節的活動預計會有大批人潮湧入平溪,建議利用火車或接駁車等大眾運輸工具,它們不僅是實惠交通工具,更是新的旅遊形態,讓民眾從不同角度觀賞事物,同時還可減少碳足跡。民眾可在後天上午十點至下午七點至木柵動物園搭接駁車到十分車站附近的靜安吊橋,直到凌晨都有回程接駁車供民眾使用。

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