A giant heart-shaped lantern will be launched on Feb. 14, Valentine’s Day, to start the annual sky lantern festival in New Taipei City’s (新北市) Pingxi District (平溪).
The city’s Tourism and Travel Department said “love” will be the theme of the festival because “2013” is a homonym for “love you for a lifetime” in Mandarin.
During the festival, thousands of paper lanterns will light up the skies on Feb. 14, Feb. 17 and Feb. 24.
The first two days are during the Lunar New Year holiday, which runs between Feb. 9 and Feb. 17, while the last day is the date of the Lantern Festival, which takes place on the 15th day of the first month on the lunar calendar.
The 2.5m heart-shaped lantern is set to be the main lantern on Feb. 14, but the organizers are also planning to prepare 120 smaller heart-shaped lanterns for couples to release.
The department said the Feb. 17 centerpiece will be a 6m “mosaic style” lantern that will be covered by 2,000 pieces of colorful paper bearing people’s wishes and words of blessing.
Members of the public can obtain these papers at designated locations throughout Taipei and submit them for inclusion on the lantern by Jan. 25, it added.
On Feb. 24, 2,000 lanterns will be released to celebrate the first full moon of the Year of the Snake.
New Taipei City Mayor Eric Chu (朱立倫) is encouraging more people to take part in the festival, pointing out that the event was named as one of the “52 things to do in 2013” by CNN Travel in an article published on Jan. 1.
The CNN article describes the Pingxi festival as “one of the most spectacular celebrations” in Asia for the first full moon after the Lunar New Year.
First held in 1999, the Pingxi festival in 2008 was called the world’s second-largest carnival by the Discovery Channel and it always attracts thousands of people to the small mountain town.