The Tourism Bureau yesterday unveiled the main lantern and handheld lantern that will be on display at the Taiwan Lantern Festival to be held in Ilan next month.
The next lunar year will be the year of the Ox in the Chinese Zodiac. Thus the main lantern design is based on the image of a Taiwan Water Buffalo (台灣水牛).
The golden water buffalo is about 14m high and stands on a 4.3m high pedestal. The entire lantern is placed on a platform surrounded by rice paddies and a water mill.
The bureau said the image of the water buffalo plowing the land symbolizes the down-to-earth and hard-working Taiwanese. The rice paddies symbolize a good harvest and prosperity, while the water mill symbolizes a turning point for change.
The designers have put engines on the joints of the water buffalo to portray the image of an energized Taiwan ready to move. Chunghwa Telecom (中華電信) is in charge of lighting the main lantern.
The handheld lantern is called starlight ox (星光牛). The ox, which features golden horns and hooves, is lit by a small light-emitting diode bulb inside its body.
Bureau director-general Janice Lai (賴瑟珍) said 130,000 hand-held lanterns will be distributed at the festival.
The festival will open on Feb. 9 and end on Feb. 22 and will be the first lantern festival to be held on the East Coast.
As the festival will celebrate its 20th anniversary, the bureau will host an activity encouraging collectors of the handheld lanterns to come and show their collections. Those with more than six different handheld lanterns will be eligible for a prize draw, the top prize being a foldable bike.
Lai responded to recent speculation by saying the bureau will not suspend the festival. She said the bureau has promoted the festival for 20 years and that it is one of the most important festivals in the world.
In related news, Association of Taiwan Tour Souvenir chairman Lin Chien-jung (林建榮) said Pouchong Tea (包種茶), manufactured in Pinglin Township (坪林) in Ilan County — which on Monday won the Golden Award as the best tourist souvenir — would be collectively marketed under the brand of “Taiwan Best 100” and will be presented at the Taiwan Lantern Festival.
Silver Award-winner Dragonfly Glazed Beads — which became popular after being featured in the hit film Cape No.7 (海角七號) — and Special Award-winner Chiate Pineapple Cakes (佳德鳳梨酥) will also be marketed under the brand and presented at the lantern festival.