Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival 2016 in Taiwan

On January 17, 2016 by admin

The Lantern Festival is one of Taiwan’s tourism highlights and takes place annually during Chinese New Year. It is consistently listed in travel guides as a “must see” for international travelers around the globe. Although there is only a short window of opportunity to take in the festival, and there are guaranteed to be crowds, the night sky illuminated with countless floating lanterns is an enchanting sight that is rarely viewed elsewhere in the world.

The major lantern festival sponsored by the national government is referred to as Taiwan Lantern Festival, and takes place in a different geographical location each year. It therefore requires some advanced trip planning, which may not work into every traveler’s schedule. However, the Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival (平溪天燈) is held in the same location (Pingxi, just outside Taipei) and on similar lunar calendar dates every year, making trip planning slightly easier. The history of the sky lantern in Pingxi goes back over a hundred years, as it was used as a method for sending one’s wishes up to God (or one’s ancestors in heaven).

The festival however, where thousands of lanterns and personal wishes are released into the sky simultaneously, only began a couple decades ago. The festival’s majestic beauty and convenient access from the Taipei metropolis has seen the event rapidly grow in popularity, and has attracted the attention of major international media outlets. The festival made it onto National Geographic’s 10 Best Winter Trips list. The Discovery Channel has named it the second largest nighttime festival in the world. CNN Travel named it one of the top things to do in 2013, and Fodor’s Travel Guides named it one of the 14 festivals a person must see in their lifetime.

Pinxi is the only place in Taiwan where sky lanterns can be released legally, as it has been deemed a safe location due to its location high in the mountains, its significant annual rainfall, and high humidity level. Festival viewers will be glad to know that it is also one of the places with the lowest amounts of light pollution in Taiwan due to the low population density, which means the lanterns appear all the more beautiful and distinct in the sky.

The lantern festival is held to celebrate the first full moon of Chinese New Year, which is the 15th day of the first month in the lunar calendar (not to be confused with the western calendar), and is when the main celebrations occur. However, the Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival events are now held in three slightly different locations within Pingxi over three dates during the new year’s period. This is also the last official day of the Chinese New Year period. An overview of the three days of events is listed below:

Date Location Activities
11 Feb 2016
18:00-20:30
Jing Tong Elementary School
No. 45 Jingtong Street, Pingxi Dist., New Taipei City
The 4th day of the Lunar New Year. A children’s themed event.  Lanterns will be decorated with children’s fingerprints. From the event organizer:

Illustrator Crystal Hung has been invited to create a collage of children’s fingerprint paintings. Everyone’s fingerprint is particular and is a symbolic representation of the wishes we make on each sky lantern. The fingerprint, just like a personal wish, is unique and irreplaceable. In the first activity, participants’ fingerprints will all be collected in order to create the first image of main lantern. During the first launch, the lantern full of fingerprints and blessings will rise into the sky and will bring happiness to the world.
480 lanterns will be released over 8 launches. This includes 420 traditional lanterns and 60 lanterns with children’s finger prints.

14 Feb 2016
18:00-20:30
Pingxi Junior High School
No. 92 Shidi Street, Pingxi Dist., New Taipei City 226
As the second day of the festival will take place on Valentine’s Day, the theme will be Two Hearts Together, and the organizers encourage visitors to leave your love in Pingxi. The main lantern will be inspired by lover, romance and happiness. More than a thousand of couples, as well as husbands and wives will gather in Pingxi to leave their own impression of the power of happiness. Their love will be witnessed and blessed by all participants of the Sky Lantern festival.
1,400 lanterns will be released over 8 launches. This includes 1,20o traditional lanterns and 200 lanterns with heart impressions.
22 Feb 2016
18:00-20:30
Shifen Sky Lantern Square
No. 136, Nanshanping, Pingxi Dist., New Taipei City
The theme for the final night of the festival will be Sky Lanterns Travel Around the World. This event was inspired by a 6 years old Taiwanese girl named ChingChing who dreamed of traveling around the world. Her mother started a Facebook page entitled Taiwanpictopic, where ChingChing was able to exchange photos of travel destinations with people from around the world, and “travel” through the photos. ChingChing will be invited to the stage for the launching of the lanterns. The main lantern will be decorated with beautiful landscape pictures from around the world.
1,600 lanterns will be released over 8 launches.

 

To participate in the official sky lantern launching, advance registration is usually required, but if you are prepared with your own lantern and a few spots open up towards the end of the festival, organizers will generally let you sneak into the back and participate in the official launching. Even if spots do not open up, you are free to release your own lantern after the official launching has finished, or from different areas of Pingxi around the official grounds.

There will be plenty of tents selling lantern kits, so you don’t need to bring anything to the festival grounds.

The lantern kit will include a paper lantern and gold paper soaked in kerosene. One must first write their New Year’s wish on the outside of the lantern (pens provided at the tents selling the lantern kits) and then carry the lantern to the launching site. To prepare for launch, first unfold the paper lantern, attache the kerosene soaked gold paper inside the lantern, then light the four corners of the gold paper. Hold the lantern down on the ground and allow it to fill with hot air. Once the lantern is filled full of hot air, release the lantern and watch your wishes float up towards the heavens.

Getting to Pingxi

The Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival is location in slightly different areas of Pingxi each night. As traffic control will be in effect each night from 9:00 – 24:00 (i.e. no cars allowed into the festival area) it is highly recommend to use public transport.

Take the MRT Wenhu Line (brown line) to Taipei Zoo and then transfer to shuttle buses departing from in front of the zoo. The bus will depart every 5 minutes from 9:00-19:00. The last departure for the return bus is 23:00.

Shuttle Bus Fare:
From Taipei Zoo: NT$50
From Shiding: NT$30
From Pingxi District: NT$10
Return Fare: Free

Shuttle Bus Route and Schedule:
February 11th, 2016 – Jingtong Elementary School

Shuttle Bus Route Bus Stops Operating Hours
Taipei Zoo – Baishi Village Zhongpu Taipei City Zoo → National Highway No. 5 Shiding Interchange → Shiding Gu Niang Temple → Zhongpu, Baishi Village Departure from Taipei Zoo: 9:00-19:00
Return from Baishi Village: 9:40-23:00
Shifen Nanshan Bridge – Pingxi Junior High School Nanshan Bridge, Shifen → Pingxi Junior High School Departure from Shifen: 9:00-19:00
Return from Pingxi 9:15-23:00
Ruifang Train Station – Shifen Railway Crossing Ruifang Station → Nanshan Bridge, Shifen Departure from Ruifang: 9:00-19:00
Return from Shifen: 9:40-23:00

February 14th, 2016 – Pingxi Junior High School

Shuttle Bus Route Bus Stops Operating Hours
Taipei Zoo – Baishi Village Zhongpu Taipei City Zoo → National Highway No. 5 Shiding Interchange → Shiding Gu Niang Temple → Zhongpu, Baishi Village (bus stop at Baishi Village) Departure from Taipei Zoo: 9:00-19:00
Return from Baishi Village: 9:40-23:00
National Highway No. 5 Shiding Interchange  – Zhongpu, Baishi Village National Highway No. 5 Shiding Interchange →Shiding Gu Niang Temple → Zhongpu, Baishi Village (bus stop at Baishi Village) Departure from Shiding: 9:00-19:00
Nanshan Bridge, Shifen  – Lingjiaoliao, Pingxi Nanshan Bridge, Shifen → Lingjiaoliao, Pingxi Departure from Shifen: 9:00-19:00
Return from Pingxi 9:15-23:00
Ruifang Station –
Nanshan Bridge, Shifen
Ruifang Station → Nanshan Bridge, Shifen Departure from Ruifang: 9:00-19:00
Return from Shifen: 9:40-23:00

February 22nd, 2016 – Shifen Sky Lantern Square

Shuttle Bus Route Bus Stops Operating Hours
Taipei Zoo –Shifen Nanshan Bridge Taipei City Zoo → National Highway No. 5 Shiding Interchange → Shiding Gu Niang Temple → Zhongpu, Baishi Village → Xiping Bridge→ Nanshan Bridge, Shifen Departure from Taipei Zoo: 9:00-19:00
Return from Baishi Village: 9:40-23:00
National Highway No. 5 Shiding Interchange – Nanshan Bridge, Shifen National Highway No. 5 Shiding Interchange → Shiding Gu Niang Temple → Zhongpu, Baishi Village → Xiping Bridge→ Nanshan Bridge, Shifen Departure from Shiding: 9:00-19:00
Ruifang Station-
Keeping Bridge, Shifen
Ruifang Station (pass Lane 152, Yuanyuan Road, Nuannuan)→ Keeping Bridge, Shifen Departure from Ruifang: 9:00-19:00
Return from Shifen: 9:40-23:00

 

49 Responses to “Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival 2016 in Taiwan”

  • Nigel

    Hello, thank you for sharing this information. It’s incredibly helpful.

    I have a question about the transport to the festival. The shuttle buses seem to go to various destinations: Baishi Village Zhongpu, Shifen Railway crossing etc. Are these locations in Pingxi, or outside the town but good to watch the festival? Or do you walk from the bus stops?

    Also does the Pingxi branch line train service operate on festival days? In your opinion is the shuttle bus a better option?

    Sorry to ask so many questions, I’m a slightly confused tourist visiting Taiwan for the first time! Thanks very much.

    • admin

      Hello, yes the transportation information is a little confusing. The buses stop quite close to the festival site, and it is a short walk from the bus stops to the festival site. That said, once arriving, it will be quite clear where to go, as everyone will be going in the same direction. There will also be lots of lanterns to guide you.

      I would recommend getting the shuttle bus from Taipei Zoo as Taipei Zoo is the last stop on the MRT metro line, easy to access, and the bus stop is easy to find. The shuttle bus is very frequent and easy to use. I would definitely recommend the shuttle bus over all other transport options. Hope that helps.

      • Nigel

        That’s great. We will take the shuttle bus and follow the crowd!

        Thank you very much for taking the time to answer my questions.

  • Nell

    This looks amazing – I feel so lucky to be travelling to Taiwan at this time of year! I’m interested in registering to join the official launch – do you know where I could apply to register? Thanks

    • admin

      Unfortunately, registration only took place for 24 hours on the Chinese version of the official web site between January 21 – 22. http://phr.heteml.net/e2t/pingxi-sky-lantern-festival-2016-in-taiwan/
      Of those who registered, only 60 people were chosen by lottery this year for the official launch, and another 20 chosen as reserves.
      But please do not worry, I would say that the festival is more enjoyable when you are not registered. Registering means that you will need to wait around in line for your official release time. By not registering, you can walk around freely, eat at the market when you like, and release your lantern whenever you like.
      Hope you enjoy!

  • gerardo

    hello, thanks for all this information, i have a question i know is dificult to answer but what day 14 or 22 do you think is the best day to see the lanterns, and there are one specific time hour when the lanterns go up?
    thanks

    • admin

      Good question, I would say that if you would like to see the valentine day themed lanterns and traditional lanterns mixed together, you should go on Feb 14. However, if you prefer to see just traditional style lanterns, go on Feb. 22. Both days will have the same number of lanterns launched officially. The launches begin at 6pm. There will be 8 launches over the 2.5 hour period. I would suggest arriving just before 6pm and enjoying the entire festival with breaks in between for snacks at the night market nearby.

  • Romaine

    How do I get from the TPE airport to this event for 22nd? Thanks

    • admin

      Unfortunately, there is no MRT line to the airport yet, so you will need to get a bus or taxi into Taipei from the airport in Taoyuan. Once in Taipei, you can get on the MRT and head for Taipei Zoo Station, the last station on Line 1 (Wenhu Line/Brown Line). The shuttle bus to the event goes from this station. I hope that helps.

  • Romaine

    Thanks, your information certainly did help. Roughly what would be the traveling time from Taipei main train station to the location of the event?

    • admin

      You are looking at about 40 minutes from Taipei Main Station to Taipei Zoo Station on the MRT. The shuttle bus from Taipei Main Station to Pingxi takes approximately another 30 minutes if I remember correctly. Google Maps works well for MRT travel times (but not for the event shuttle bus). Look to sign up for public internet access at a counter in the airport, and you can get a free password for the public WiFi system in all the train stations! Local SIM cards with unlimited data are also very affordable.

  • Nacho

    Hello, I’m interested on the event but I’m haven’t found enough info about tomorrows schedule, because everything seems to focus on the 14th and 22ND dates. Unfortunately I won’t be at Taiwan on any of those dates, so I’m wondering if it’s as good on the 11th as in the other dates. Thanks for your help!

    • admin

      There will be fewer lanterns launched “officially” on the 11th, but I would say that the 11th will be just as enjoyable. You will still get to experience the breathtaking sight of thousands of lanterns floating in the sky. I highly recommend going on the 11th if that is your only chance. You will be glad you did!

  • Lee

    Hello,
    If i wanted to get a lantern to release on the 14th, where can I get that? I am visiting from Canada and have no idea where to look? Am I better to get that before going to Pigxi or once I get out there?
    Thank you!

    • admin

      There is no need to get a lantern before hand. Once getting off the bus in Pingxi, following the road to the festival site, and you will find a number of lantern vendors along the street. There are usually tables set up where you can prepare your lantern by writing your wishes on the side of the lantern. Please do not worry, everything is there in Pingxi. All you need to bring is a camera!

  • VAL

    Thank you so much for the information, clear and useful !
    Have a great festival, and see you all there …

  • Tony

    I’m at Ruifang station and all over the Pingxi Lantern Festival posters, there is a sign that says “suspended” over them.

  • Nalow

    Hello! Thanks for this website full of precious infos 🙂 considering this really bad weather today (I’m back in Taipei, it’s just raining and raining and raining…) does the festival still happen tonight ?! Thanks !

  • Fred

    Unfortunately, I can only get to Taipei Zoo at 18:30 next Monday. Could you please tell me how long the shuttle bus will take and when the official launch happens?

    • admin

      The shuttle takes approximately 30 mins. The first official launch begins at 6pm, but there will be 8 in total up until 8pm, so you should be able to catch the last half. I would still recommend going to see a few launches, then going to eat something in the night market.

  • HSL

    Hello there! Thank you for the write up on the festival. I have a few questions to ask and hope you won’t mind answering them.
    1. I’m thinking of going to Jiufen first (in the morning), before heading to Shifen either by bus or taxi (late afternoon) for the festival on the 22nd. Is it advisable to do so?
    2. If we make it to Shifen for the festival, can we board the shuttle bus to get back to Taipei (one way trip)?

    Thanks in advance!

    • admin

      That sounds like an enjoyable day trip. Yes, you should be able to fit both into the same day. I would recommend taking the bus from Taipei to Jiufen rather than the train as the bus is more direct and will save you time (taxi works as well).
      And for your second question, yes you can still take the shuttle bus back from Pingxi after the festival, even if it is just one way.
      Hope that helps.

  • Stephen

    Hey there! We’re in Taipai right now trying to figure out the best way to get out for the 22nd launch. Any reason why one should take the bus over the train? Is getting there from Shefen station difficult? Thanks for the help!

    • admin

      Thank you for you message. The main reseason I would recommend the bus over the train is that it much more frequent and likely much less crowded than the train. Buses will leave every few minutes where as the train has a rather sparce schedule. But if you prefer the train, you should not have any problems with distance from the station. Hope that helps

  • Hi! I’ll be arriving in Taiwan tomorrow,(Feb 22), at 8:00PM. If I go straight to the festival, will I still be able to see any lantern at all? Worst case, if I go on Feb 23rd, are there still small lantern events?

    • admin

      I’m sorry to inform you that I don’t think you will be able to make it on time. There are no events planned for Feb 23. You could however take the train to Shifen, tour around the old town, and buy a lantern kit to launch your own lantern on the 23rd or another day.

  • Hayley

    Great information! Any idea if the festival will still be on tonight (the 22nd) with rain in the forecast?

  • qamariah

    Dearest,

    Ive missed the floating lantern in feb… is there anymore chance that i could see the floating lanterns festival in Taiwan this year.

    any months in particular

    love,

    • admin

      Unfortunately, the festival only takes place during three days over Chinese New Year. The festival will be held again in 2017.

  • Rita

    i am coming to Taipei on 29th ~1st May. When is the best time to go to Pingxi Lantern festival at that time? what about Shifen lantern?

    • admin

      Unfortunately, the festival only takes place during three days over Chinese New Year. This year the festival was in February. The festival will be held again late January – early February 2017. Although there will be no festival when you visit, you can still enjoy a day trip to Shifen and buy your own lantern to launch.

  • Dexter

    Hello! When exactly is the Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival in 2017? My sisters and I will be in Taipei around February next year for the Chinese New Year celebration. We would like to join in the activities and festivities, if possible. Will a day trip to Shifen be enough or do we need to spend the night there? We also intend to see the waterfalls but have yet to figure out the transportation arrangements going there. Our initial plan is to take the MRT Wenhu Line from Taipei Main Station to Taipei Zoo Station then get on one of the shuttle buses to the event venue, as you suggested. Since the lantern festival is very popular, will it be difficult to get on the shuttle bus? Do we have to purchase shuttle bus tickets in advance? If not, how early in the morning must we be in front of the zoo to get on the shuttle bus if we want to avoid the long lines? Sorry for the long list of questions but I hope you can answer all of them. Thanks!

    • admin

      The festival always takes place during Chinese New Year. The exact dates are confirmed a month or two before the event.
      Chinese New Year will start on January 28, 2017, so the festival will likely be on three different days between January 28 – February 11.
      Please check back at a later date, as I will update the site once the dates are released.
      As for Shifen, I would recommend just travelling for the day, and staying in Taipei, as there are more options for accommodation. However, if you prefer a more rural lodging experience, Shifen could be interesting as well.
      The buses to the festival run very frequently, so you will not have any problem getting a bus. You only need to buy the bus ticket just before getting on the bus. The lines move very quickly, so you will not be waiting long.

    • admin

      The main sky lantern event will be held on Feb. 11. Full details are here:
      http://escape2taiwan.com/pingxi-sky-lantern-festival-2017-in-taiwan-february-11-2017/

  • Paul Brown

    Hi! Do you know the dates for 2017 yet? Trying to plan a trip in advance. Thanks, Paul.

  • Lillian

    Thank you for providing such great information on the event! Can you post a link on registering to launch the lanterns for 2017? We have adjusted our trip to arrive in time for the 11th February launch. Thanks!

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