The 2014 Taiwan Lantern Festival

2014 National Lantern Festival

The once sleepy Jhongsing Village [中興新村] is now bustling with activity as it’s the location of the 2014 Taiwan Lantern Festival. The event started February 13th and runs through February 23rd. This annual event has been recently named one of the best festivals in the world by the Discovery Channel so I conjured up the energy to walk five minutes from my front door to check things out myself.

2014 National Lantern Festival
Nantian Gate 

Every evening during my commute home I’m stuck in traffic while buses get to zip by in dedicated lanes. I strongly advise anyone wishing to visit this weekend [the event’s final weekend] to take public transportation: Take a shuttle bus from the Taichung High Speed Rail Station, Yuanlin Train Station, or Taichung’s Tiger City Department Store.

2014 National Lantern Festival
Door Gods

As a resident of Jhongsing Village, I’ve witnessed the ugliness that has gone into preparing for this event: Tree-lined roads have transformed from beautiful to desolate as crews hack away limbs of trees [some of which were over 30 centimeters in diameter] with absolute reckless abandon, more than two months before the event I watched my daughter walk to the swings of the local children’s park only to find that they had been removed earlier that day for safety concerns, and I have seen shameful arguments between police officers and venders at a traditional market [some of whom have been selling there for decades] as they were handed fines to the tune of $30,000NT.

2014 National Lantern Festival
Lord Guan – The God of War [關公]

Nantou Government thought they had a win-win formula combining the beauty of Jhongsing Village and the beauty of the lanterns. Walking through the festival areas I can tell you they were completely wrong. Sure, the lanterns are nice, as one would expect to find at our National Lantern Festival but it’s difficult to see the beauty that Jhongsing has to offer walking with a wave of people through the various areas. If you want to appreciate the beauty of Jhongsing Village you should have visited three months ago.

2014 National Lantern Festival
Tunnel Vision

I’m probably just bitter because the mood of the entire community has gone sour as residents are bothered by increased time commuting, lack of trash collection in evenings, and entire primary and secondary schools shut down with plans to make up the time during summer break. Nobody should have to endure a fifth of the country walking past his or her home over the course of ten days because a handful of elected officials decided to put a national festival in a predominately residential area.

To readers who made it this far through my post all the pictures featured here were taken during a power walk through the event’s Northern Area.

The festival has a large section devoted to the country’s different aboriginal tribes:

2014 National Lantern Festival
The Tao Tribe are the Aboriginal Residents of Orchid Island

Here are a couple of examples from the Nantou-themed area of the festival:

2014 National Lantern Festival
Lugu Township

2014 National Lantern Festival
Zhongliao’s Dragon Waterfall [of the Dragon and Phoenix Waterfall fame]

The village’s traffic circle turned Hitachi-sponsered lantern advertisement:

2014 National Lantern Festival

I visited on a cold weekday evening, so there weren’t too many people:

2014 National Lantern Festival

Thanks to Thanks to Florentijn Hofman, every festival in Taiwan requires a yellow duck:

2014 National Lantern Festival

Yellow Fever

The Formosan Blue Magpies [臺灣藍鵲] should have been the stars of this lantern:

2014 National Lantern Festival
The Birds

2014 National Lantern Festival
Batman and other DC Comics Characters

2014 National Lantern Festival
Gundam Style

Here’s a scaled-down version of Jhongsing Gate to give visitors an opportunity to appreciate how it looks when it isn’t covered in lights:

2014 National Lantern Festival

Pre-Lantern Festival Jhongsing Gate

2014 National Lantern Festival
All Dressed Up and Nowhere to Go [A Hardly Recognizable Jhongsing Gate]

The giant illuminated wall of stamps on the side of the post office is the only installation I hope becomes permanent:

Wall of Stamps at the Post Office
The Wall of Stamps

And the main event: a 23 meter high, rotating, color-changing horse that is lit up by over 200,000 LED bulbs. Unfortunately, this photograph doesn’t give a sense of scale. By the time I changed my vantage point to take another picture the horse stopped rotating, its lights turned off, and it wasn’t going to be lit again for another half hour.

2014 National Lantern Festival
My Little Pony

15 thoughts on “The 2014 Taiwan Lantern Festival

  1. Great photos and I’m sure the lanterns are beautiful to look at, but I can understand how the residents might be feeling right now.

    My family took a drive out to Jhongsing Village one afternoon several years ago (we were living in Fengyuan in the former Taichung County at the time). While I didn’t think there was much to see and do there for visitors like ourselves, I remember thinking it was one of the most pleasant places I’d ever seen in Taiwan. Here’s an old blog post about our day in Jhongsing (written when I was in an anti-pinyin mood!):

    • Thanks Jim! It seems the only visitors we are accustomed to getting around here are families from nearby communities bringing their children to the parks or photography clubs taking pictures of the trees.

  2. Pingback: 10 Reasons Why I Love Attending the Taiwan Lantern Festival | Foreign Sanctuary

  3. Hi Todd,
    I recently wrote a post about the lantern festival as well . I presented 10 reasons why I love it but I thought it was important to show the other side as well. I included a link to this post…Hope you don’t mind.

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