The Tourism Bureau yesterday unveiled the main lantern that will be displayed at the Taiwan Lantern Festival in Changhua County’s Lugang Township (鹿港) in February.
Next year is the Year of the Dragon according to the Chinese zodiac and the main lantern features a silver dragon perched on a cloud holding an orb in its hand.
Tourism Bureau Director-General Janice Lai (賴瑟珍) said the lantern is 20m long and weighs 40 tonnes, making it the largest in the history of the nation’s lantern festival, adding that it is equipped with more than 200,000 LEDs and 2,500 electrical circuits.
The festival runs from Feb. 6 until Feb. 19.
Changhua County Commissioner Chuo Po-yuan (卓伯源) said the entire town of Lugang would be beaming during the festival.
In addition to the Lugang Sports Stadium, where the main lantern will be located, the main street in Lugang and other tourist attractions will be lit with lanterns.
Since Changhua is famous for its flower production, Lai added that visitors could enjoy the flowers and other scenic spots in Changhua during the day, before attending the lantern festival at night.
Lai said representatives of the Tokyo Disney Resort were so impressed with this year’s Miaoli Lantern Festival that they have decided to dispatch performance groups to the Changhua festival.
The bureau yesterday also introduced small paper lanterns that will be freely distributed to festival attendees.
Hung Hsin-fu (洪新富), who designed the mini-lanterns, said it was called the Spirited Dragon, adding that it has hang-gliding wings, wears a backpack and rides on a rainbow-colored cloud.
Hung also cut out the No. 101 on the chest of the Spirited Dragon. He said people will be able to see the shape of a heart when a light inside the lantern shines through the 0.
“I wanted to create something that parents can do with their children,” Hung said. “The lantern has the characteristics of an Eastern dragon — deer horns, fish scales, horse ears and the whiskers of a catfish. You can also move the dragon’s hands.”
To get to the festival, visitors are advised to take advantage of the shuttle buses arranged by the Changhua County Festival, which are available at the high-speed rail station in Greater Taichung, as well as the Taiwan Railway Administration stations in Changhua City and Yuanlin (員林).
The bureau estimated that the festival in Lugang would draw 6 million visitors. The Changhua County Government has provided a total of 27,000 parking spaces outside the town, as cars will be banned from the downtown area during the festival.