The Taiwan Lantern Festival officially started in Taipei on Sunday, returning to the capital for the first time in 23 years with hundreds of lantern installations in the city’s trendiest districts, including some commissioned by Taiwan’s diplomatic allies.
Celebrating the theme “Light Up the Future,” the festival is to illuminate the city until Sunday next week with innovative lanterns that feature the Chinese zodiac, animals, mythology and international friendship, among other elements.
More than 462,000 people had visited the festival’s main sites by 7pm on Sunday, the Taipei Department of Information and Tourism said.
Photo courtesy of the Central America Trade Office
Many of the lanterns and other displays around the city that drew the big crowds are showcasing rabbits to mark the Year of the Rabbit.
There are also several that transport visitors to worlds outside Taiwan.
One of the most eye-catching of those lanterns, which depicts a moving train, was presented by the embassy of Saint Kitts and Nevis and is called “A Magnificent View From the Scenic Railway.”
Located on the grounds of the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall, the lantern depicts Saint Kitts and Nevis’ scenic railway, and offers a unique view of the country’s history, Saint Kitts and Nevis Ambassador to Taiwan Donya Francis said.
“This magnificent mode of transportation takes you through our lush green mountains where you can see some of our beautiful estates and other wonderful buildings and structures of the past,” Francis said.
In the same area, the “Jaguar Preserve and Wondrous Wildlife” lantern, presented by the embassy of Belize, features jaguars and national symbols such as the tapir (national animal), toucan (national bird), mahogany tree (national tree) and black orchid (national flower).
Belizean Ambassador to Taiwan Candice Pitts said the lantern offers Taiwanese a glimpse of her country, including its jaguar preserve, the only one of its kind in the world.
She said she hoped the lantern would encourage more Taiwanese to visit Belize and experience its natural wonders.
“You will understand why many claim Belize is a country where the heavens kiss the earth. You will agree that God really does favor this beautiful country,” Pitts said.
Also in the area, the “Soar Together” lantern presented by the embassy of Saint Lucia speaks of the bonds between Saint Lucia and Taiwan, the embassy said.
The lantern showcases a Formosan black bear being carried by an Amazona versicolor, also known as the Saint Lucian parrot.
The bear is endemic to Taiwan just as the parrot is endemic to Saint Lucia, and the two are soaring together over clouds and moving forward toward a bright future with even stronger bonds, much like the two countries, the embassy said.
Other installations inspired by overseas culture include “Grow the Taipei Tastes” by artist Cheng Jo-han (成若涵), who presented a 12m circular table decorated with metallic, papercraft-like reproductions of 15 cuisines brought to Taiwan by immigrants.
Located at Songshan Cultural and Creative Park, the work was inspired by the international diversity and many different types of cuisine from around the world found in the city, Cheng said.
Also at the park is “Here We Are,” a tall bamboo hut that represents the fusion of various cultures and a longing for home, said Chang Shu-ling (張淑玲), one of the park’s curators.
Another work with an immigrant theme is “The River of Memory” created by Filipino artist Mark Lester Reyes and Light ARTS,Lab. The work makes reference to a river flowing through Taipei, carrying the stories of new arrivals in the city.
This year’s main lantern, the 22m-tall “Brilliant Light of the Jade Hare,” is at the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall.
This year’s main venues are the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall, Songshan Cultural and Creative Park, and Taipei City Hall Plaza. There are also many displays along Zhongxiao E Road, near some of the Blue Line MRT stations.
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