Giant dragon to take center stage at Taiwan Lantern Festival

Taiwan Lantern Festival
Children hold small lanterns in front of a model of the main display of this year's Taiwan Lantern Festival during a press event in Taipei on Wednesday. CNA photo Jan. 3, 2024

A 22-meter-tall dragon lantern is set to take center stage at the Taiwan Lantern Festival, which will be held in Tainan from Feb. 24 -March 10 to mark the Year of the Dragon in the Chinese zodiac, the Tourism Administration said January 3rd.

The agency revealed this year’s “The Dragon Visits Taiwan” centerpiece of the festival, which will be held near the high-speed rail station and in Anping District, along with this year’s handheld lantern that is dragon-shaped and doubles up as a bag, at a press conference.

Minister of Transportation and Communications Wang Kwo-tsai (王國材) said the lantern bag has a cute design and explained the name “The Dragon Visits Taiwan” is supposed to symbolize the country’s excitement at the prospect of welcoming visitors.

The centerpiece, designed by artist Peng Li-chen (彭力真), has a regal style and was inspired by the flying dragons on the pillars of Tainan’s Grand Matsu Temple, also known as the Great Queen of Heaven Temple, according to the Tourism Administration.

In ancient Chinese culture, the dragon is associated with the Emperor of China and is often used as a symbol of potent and auspicious powers.

Solar energy will be used to light up the dragon to reduce electricity consumption, Tourism Administration Director-General Chou Yung-hui (周永暉) said.

The dragon-shaped handheld lantern can be used to carry small items and can also be enjoyed as a toy for children. When opened, items fall through a hole into the dragon’s mouth, the agency said.

Tainan Mayor Huang Wei-che (黃偉哲) said he believes the Taiwan Lantern Festival will be phenomenal as 2024 marks Tainan’s 400th birthday. Visitors were also invited to check out other events, such as the Yanshui Beehive Fireworks Festival and the Taiwan International Orchid Show, he added.

Meanwhile, Taipei and Kaohsiung will hold similar festivals from Feb. 2 to March 3 and Jan. 27 to Feb. 25, respectively.

The centerpiece of the Taipei event will be a 10-meter-tall dragon, with parts taken from the rabbit-shaped “Brilliant Light of the Jade Hare” lantern, which was the 2023 Taiwan Lantern Festival centerpiece, in a bid to be more environmentally friendly.

Liu Chih-liang (劉治良), event curator and an award-winning designer, said the festival will be held in three areas near the vibrant neighborhood of Ximending.

The main dragon lantern will be located in Ximen, light sculptures and interactive installations will be showcased near Beimen, while the Zhonghua Road area will feature light decor made by local artists, Liu said.

Regarding the Kaohsiung festival, named “2024 Kaohsiung Wonderland,” taking center stage will be a yellow rubber duck, created by Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman, bobbing along Love River Bay, the Kaohsiung Tourism Bureau said Tuesday.

The yellow is meant to symbolize warm sunlight shining through in winter, according to the bureau.

It added that there will also be yellow duck-themed light rail trains, which will feature yellow duck patterns on and decorations in carriages, to boost everyone’s spirits.