Fri, Feb 03, 2012 - Page 2 News List

Lantern fests promising fun, dragons

EVENING DELIGHTS:From sky lanterns in Pingsi to Yanshui’s annual night of firecracker madness, there is something for almost everyone this weekend

By Shelley Shan and Mo Yan-chih  /  Staff Reporters

Festive events will be held nationwide this weekend as the nation begins celebrations of the annual Lantern Festival on Monday, the 15th day of the first month of the lunar calendar.

Visitors attending the Pingsi (平溪) Sky Lantern Festival will be able to fly their own sky lanterns tomorrow and on Monday, sending their New Year wishes into the heavens.

Sky lanterns, also known as Kongming lanterns, are said to have be invented by Zhuge Kongming (諸葛孔明), a chancellor of the State of Shu Han during the Three-Kingdoms period of Chinese history, to transmit signals between military camps.

The New Taipei City (新北市) Government said it has prepared a 6m high sky lantern to be flown by visitors, a privilege that previously was only afforded to the president or other dignitaries.

The Taiwan Railway Administration has arranged extra train services to Pingsi for the event.

Meanwhile, people looking for an adrenaline-charged evening can head south for the beehive firecrackers display in Yanshui (鹽水), Greater Tainan.

The organizer said 500,000 firecrackers would be shot off from a 6m tall, 10m long golden dragon made of fiberglass at 9pm on Monday, when the golden dragon will descend from above via a crane.

Visitors headed for the Yanshui event are advised to wear protective gear that covers their entire body, including helmets, face masks, thick coats and pants, gloves and scarves.

The Bombing Dragon Festival in Miaoli City begins tomorrow night with a carnival-like parade featuring performers from 56 local and foreign groups. On Sunday, 12 dragon dance teams will be “bombed” by firecrackers at the Riverside Park on Chingkuo Road.

On the east coast, the Bombing Han Dan (炸寒單) event will be held in Taitung County tomorrow.

Han Dan was said to be a prodigal son who turned over a new leaf. Some also believed that he was the god of wealth. Each year, men and women dress in Han Dan costumes and welcome others to throw firecrackers at them, which they believe will bring luck and fortune to them throughout the year.

Those who prefer something quieter might want to check out the Taiwan Lantern Festival in Lugang (鹿港), Changhua County, hosted by the Tourism Bureau, as well as different lantern festivals held by different county governments.

In Taipei, colorful lasers showing digital images of dragons on a water curtain and a giant dragon lantern at the National Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall opened the annual Taipei Lantern Festival last night. In celebration of the Year of the Dragon, the main dragon lantern — the largest in the nation — shows a Chinese dragon preparing to take off into the skies.

Yesterday’s opening ceremony of the festival attracted a large crowd, who braved drizzling rains to watch the lighting of the main lantern in the evening, presided over by officials including Vice President Vincent Siew (蕭萬長), Vice Premier Sean Chen (陳冲) and Taipei Mayor Hau Lung-bin (郝龍斌).

The festival will run from 7pm to 10pm daily through Feb. 12.

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