The spiritual atmosphere conjured up by the often carnival-like events and festivals of Taiwan is enough alone to attract millions of visitors each year. Important dates such as the Lantern Festival, Dragon Boat Festival and Taichung’s Mazu Festival all provide a sensory overload with sensual smells, deafening sounds and dazzling colors.
February 22 2016
The Taiwan Lantern Festival is celebrated around the first full moon of the lunar year, and is considered one of the most romantic dates in the festive calendar. Locals and visitors make handheld candles, set off firecrackers and release lanterns into the sky. A can’t-miss favorite is tangyuan (sticky rice dumplings) - the festival food.
February 21-22 2017
Head south during Taiwan’s annual Lantern Festival and you’ll be sure see, hear and smell the Beehive Fireworks. Locals set off thousands of firecrackers at a time, creating a spectacular-but-deafening cacophony of sound and light - resembling the buzz of bees. Celebrations last two to three days around the year's first full moon.
February 4 2015
As part of Taiwan's nationwide Lantern Festival, the remote northern town of Pingxi provides the setting for one of the most spectacular shows on earth. On the night of the first full moon of the first lunar month, the sky is lit up with tens of thousands of lanterns, all simultaneously released, creating an incredible spectacle.
The Kaohsiung Neimen Songjiang Battle Array Competition invites teams from across Taiwan to converge on the Zizhu Temple in Neimen for 12 days of martial arts demonstrations and contests. This 10-year-old event, held in March, also aims to promote this ancient art of battle whilst preserving its role in reflecting Taiwanese identity.
This huge religious festival, which marks the start and end of the famous 186-mile Dajia Mazu Pilgrimage, could actually be considered as more of mass party for the central Taiwanese city of Taichung. Firecrackers, free food and drink, music and crazy processions all help to create the celebratory atmosphere over a month of mayhem.
The huge outdoor Spring Wave Music and Art Festival is Taiwan’s answer to Glastonbury, with none of the mud. The focus is more on the music, rather than art, with this two-day concert at Hengchun arena (Hengchun Airport) hosting an assortment of national and international acts across more genres than you can shake your hips at.
Kicking off in May and not ending until the following month, the Dragon Boat Festival in the old city of Lukang produces a carnival-like atmosphere, with cultural exhibitions, games, local food stalls, calligraphy performances, music, and of course, the fiercely contested dragon boat races that thousands cheer on by the river.
June 9 2016
Despite its name, the Dragon Boat (or Duanwu Festival) is not just about boats. Although you will find a whole host of adrenaline-filled races, there's much more to see and do. Other favorite activities on this one-day national holiday involve eating zongzi (sticky rice dumplings), drinking realgar wine and enjoying the big party.
The relatively new International Hot Air Balloon Festival on the Luye Plain in Taitung County is chance for both pilots and passengers to take to the skies over the course of 2 months in summer. Previous years have welcomed balloon pilots from across the world who come to enjoy the sweeping mountain landscape of northeastern Taiwan.
June 16-24 annually
Penghu County, comprised of a gorgeous collection of islands dotted around the Taiwan Strait, draws in thousands of visitors with its annual fireworks festival. Over a week in June, residents and tourists take their positions opposite the incredible Xiying Rainbow Bridge, ready to watch the displays against this unique backdrop.
The Ami harvest festival is a chance for this indigenous group to flaunt their colorful culture to thousands of visitors. Around 40 tribes in the east of Taiwan give thanks for their (hopefully) good harvests, whilst also performing enthralling songs, dances and plays. The shows last for about four days to a week in July or August.
July 27-August 26 2014 | August 14-September 13 2015
The 150-year-old Ghost Festival in the small Taiwan town of Keelung runs throughout the 7th lunar month, commonly known as the ghost month. Thousands of tourists stream into town to see the ornately decorated streets and houses, whilst Buddhists pray for peace, pay homage to ancestors, offer small sacrifices, and release water lanterns.
September 13 2015
To end the seventh lunar month, or Ghost month, spectators and participants gather in the town of Yilan for a huge pole-climbing competition. Teams climb, shimmy and slide their way up greased poles and bamboo to capture a flag at the top. It symbolizes 'wrestling away' ghosts or demons, in what is the Taiwanese equivalent of Halloween.
October 19-21 annually
The Hakka Yimin Festival, an important date for Taiwan’s Hakka Chinese-speaking community, is held at the Taipei City Hakka Cultural Park over three days in October. Organizers invite over 25 different Yimin temples across the island to join in the festivities, including parades, merit-making, blessings and traditional Hakka performances.
October 20-January 31 annually
To combat the temperature drop in winter, locals like to escape to the hotsprings found in the Taiwan's mountainous regions. During the festival, which runs from October to January, several national parks open their doors for visitors to enjoy open-air hot pools, spas and saunas - all helping to clean the skin and warm the soul.
October 8 - 25 2015
If you’re a budding artist under 45, the Taipei International Contemporary Art Fair presents a great opportunity to present your work. And if not - the fair still offers a huge range of art for all tastes. The four-day event at the Taipei World Trade Centre aims to create a platform for Asian contemporary art exchanges across the world.
Spread over two years (from December to March), this butterfly viewing event is timed to coincide with the influx of migrating purple Euploea butterflies. Millions them make a stop-off at the glorious Maolin National Scenic Area in the south of Taiwan, and thousands of tourists from across the world are drawn in by their beauty.