Every year, the Pingxi Lantern Festival (also known as the “Taiwan Lantern Festival”) sees thousands of paper lanterns ascend the heavens with brush-painted wishes. It’s a magical scene with echos in pop culture around the world.
Located in its namesake town of Pingxi — accessible from Taipei — the Pingxi Lantern Festival is a one-night event that takes on a carnival-like atmosphere. Bring your camera, and some extra cash, and, if at all possible, plan ahead and get a free ticket to the main event staging area (given out on the day of the festival, first-come-first-served).
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• Hotels and AirBNB opportunities in Pingxi are very limited, so book early if you plan to stay in town.
• If staying in town isn’t an option, EG recommends you stay in either Ruifang or Taipei.
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• From Ruifang: Connect to the Pingxi Line and get off at Shifen (be sure to purchase a new ticket, if needed).
• Trains are full, but not excessively packed. Be prepared to stand and note that special seats are reserved for passengers requiring assistance.
• Check train times on the Taiwan Railway official website.
Travelers attending the Pingxi Lantern Festival are joining a rich history dating back over 2,000 years. Also known as the Taiwan Lantern Festival, it is celebrated on the 15th night of the Lunar New Year (a.k.a. “Chinese New Year”), which means the event always takes place during a full moon. According to tradition, thousands of lanterns should usher in the New Year.
Having always seen pictures of Pingxi’s floating lanterns on travel websites, we were so excited when we could finally take some of those pictures ourselves and release our own wishing lantern. Watching the timed releases and setting our own lantern off was so magical and romantic, we did not even mind that we were not in the ticketed area. That said, we recommend that you try to get tickets if you’re able to go early to Pingxi on the day of the Lantern Festival. Tickets are free and they allow you to see staged performances.
Although we continue to be enchanted by festivals with sky lanterns, we plan to avoid releasing more sky lanterns to protect the environment. If we do want to release another lantern, we’ll look for an environmentally-friendly option and find ways to make amends.
I knew little about the Pingxi Lantern Festival before attending it. Having seen cartoons and movies featuring sky lanterns, until I planned our trip for the Pingxi Lantern Festival, I didn’t know that it is arguably the most iconic lantern festival in the world.
My favorite part of the festival was actually wandering the streets during the night and just seeing happy participants from around the globe creating and launching their lanterns. This gave a wonderful feeling of being a part of the event wherever you went throughout town; even if you weren’t at the main stage, there was always something to see and enjoy.
If possible, I recommend requesting a paper and wood lantern – one without metal. These are much more environmentally friendly (both for animals and for Mother Nature). There are dozens of lantern vendors around town, so you’ll find plenty of options!
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