This year in Taiwan, the Lantern Festival and Valentine’s day were both on February 14th, and it led to a firework of heart lanterns, a mixture of love messages and fortune wishes written on paper lanterns that apparently was startling for everyone, since there were people in the street till late in the night in Taipei, more precisely lots of youth and lots of couples, something I have actually rarely seen recently – was it that all over the island, boyfriends felt the need to finally invite their girlfriend to go out, or to grab a last opportunity to celebrate the last day of the New Year Celebration? Who knows?
The skies had decided to not be clement and, as I spent about 10 hours in Pingxi, one of the famous locations to watch mass-release of sky lanterns, it equally poured heavy rain for 10 hours, leaving me totally wet and worried for my camera, but in the end all went well and the hard conditions made for a memorable experience!
I have to say that this time my pictures weren’t that great, I apologize for this in advance, but the lights and nature of the event were against me. Next year will be better!
While I’m at it, I must say that I felt the safety on site not really good, it was quite windy, and the direction was sending the lanterns straight on the spot where all people where gathered, there were literally trees burning upon their heads, and there were no safety barriers on very crowded, thin, slippery spots where people had put all their heavy camera equipments, I think that as the festival gains in popularity something should be done i the future to improve the safety of participants. Anyway, this year it seems that everything went fine!
Pingxi is a nice place to watch the sky lantern festival because it is a remote village in the mountain, the wild landscape makes a nice setup for the lanterns, the festival is relatively easily accessible thanks to shuttle buses departing from Taipei Zoo and Ruifang, and a nice « old Street » offers some occasion to take a rest and enjoy while you are not packing with the crowd to try to watch the lanterns – and not finish squashed or burnt in the crowd.
Even though the event is really packed with people, as often in Taiwan, people don’t usually stay long, and everyone tries to go to the same place to see the lanterns, leaving a lot of space to move and enjoy the wild view. Besides this, if you come before dawn, you have a chance to see the Pingxi Waterfalls, walk on a suspended bridge, and see the somehow charming railway track that goes a narrow way inside rocks and vegetation. It is just a pity that there are no illuminations at night!
So ultimately, after riding so far to see the festival, fighting with my camera to get only so-so pictures, getting totally wet, was it worth going there? Yes, definitely, as I finally stopped taking pictures and just enjoyed the show, I felt the magical beauty of the festival, which reminded me of my arrival in Taiwan 5 years ago, I could see the joy on Children’s face as they were preparing their lanterns and wishing inside themselves that their wishes would turn true – from what I saw, while adults were praying for fortune and happiness, some kids were more pragmatic and prayed for a world with no car accidents, with more joy and other charming expectations!
Hope you enjoy those pictures I captured with the utmost difficulty, and I wish everyone a great Lantern Festival, and while I’m at it, a great Valentine’s day!