Fri, Mar 02, 2018 - Page 3 News List

President to open lantern festival

Staff writer, with CNA

Spectators yesterday in Chiayi County look at a giant lantern in the shape of a bird during a rehearsal of this year’s Taiwan Lantern Festival, which is to open this evening with President Tsai Ing-wen turning on the lights.

Photo: CNA

This year’s Taiwan Lantern Festival is to open today in Chiayi County with President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) turning on the lights in a ceremony that is to feature an aerial display by five F-16 jets and an array of lanterns celebrating the Lunar Year of the Dog.

The festival’s main lantern installation depicts a smiling Aboriginal child with a dog standing on top of Alishan (阿里山).

The 21m tall lantern, titled Loyal Auspiciousness, symbolizes “the past, standing firmly in the present and looking forward to the future,” the festival’s Web site said. “The message it sends is that we want the world to see Taiwan and we also welcome people from all over the world to visit Taiwan.”

In addition to the main lantern, two other lanterns in the supporting lantern area are among the three featured pieces at the 10-day festival.

These are Station of Happiness, which depicts a chariot and a miniature train, and Rays of the Sun, which showcases the mikado pheasant, which is indigenous to Taiwan.

The many other lantern areas use different elements of traditional art, LED lighting and modern design to represent the beauty of Taiwan and Chiayi culture.

A rehearsal took place yesterday evening, including a flyover by the F-16 jets, which flew from Chiayi Air Base.

Given the large crowds that are expected at the festival, the county government urged people to take public transport where possible.

There are to be free shuttle buses to the festival site from Chiayi and Nanjing (南靖) railway stations, as well as from the Chiayi High-Speed Rail Station, running from 3pm to 11pm on weekdays and 2pm to 11pm on weekends.

The festival, which is one of the nation’s flagship tourism events, has been described by the Discovery Channel as one of the best festivals in the world.

The festival this year is to set new records, including opening to the public on the second day of the Lunar New Year holiday, Chiayi County Commissioner Helen Chang (張花冠) said.

The lanterns are exhibited over a 50-hectare plot, which is larger than any previous exhibition, Chang said.

This is also the first time that artists from foreign countries were invited to design pieces, she said, adding that musicians and bands from Taiwan, South Korea, Japan and the UK are to perform at the event.

The festival also introduces some innovative features, such as allowing people to catch monsters in the mobile game Pokemon Go on the festival’s premises, Chang said.

Visitors to the “technology lantern” section can use EasyCard, iPass, Apple Pay or other mobile payment methods to pay for purchases, Chang said.

Additional reporting by Shelley Shan

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