Thousands of people filled the skies over Pingsi (平溪) in Taipei County yesterday with sky lanterns laden with their wishes for the coming year.
The Sky Lantern Festival, a century-old Pingsi tradition, attracts tens of thousands of people every year who write their New Year’s wishes on candle-lit lanterns that resemble hot air balloons before releasing them into the sky.
Tradition says that the lanterns carry the wishes written on them up to Heaven.
This year, the Taipei County Pingsi International Sky Lantern Festival is scheduled to last from Jan. 26 (the first day of the Lunar New Year) until Feb. 9 (the 15th day of the Lunar New Year), with the county government giving out 10,000 sky lanterns to festival-goers.
Yesterday, the Taipei County Government held “Sky Lanterns Light Up Taiwan” — the first of three large-scale lantern releases — at Pingsi’s Jingtong Elementary School. The event drew thousands of people from all over the country as 2,000 free sky lanterns were handed out and released into the air in 12 waves.
Academics debate the origins of sky lanterns, but according to folklore, the lanterns were invented by Zhuge Liang (諸葛亮), a military strategist during China’s Three Kingdom’s era.