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Festivals
Festivals

Taiwan's colorful and fascinating ancient and traditional festivals are influenced by the traditions and legends of various cultures including Chinese, Hakka, Aboriginal, Japanese, Western and Southeast Asian. It also has lively festivals highlighting its food, music, theater, sports and more.

1. Chinese New Year - end of January/February
The Chinese or Lunar New Year is the most important festival in Taiwan. This holiday is celebrated by enjoying delicious family dinners, and giving "red envelopes" (ang pau) containing good luck money. The sound of firecrackers can be heard throughout this holiday. Other traditional customs include cleaning the house, buying new clothing, and paying off debts. It is a time of gratitude and family unity, a time to say goodbye to the old and welcome the new.

2. Lantern Festival (also known as Shang Yuan Festival, or the "Second New Year") - February to March
On the festival night, colorful lanterns decorated as Zodiac signs, birds, animals, and historical figures are carried by children or are found hanging from temples and in parks. This festival is also celebrated by eating Tangyuan, a custom which symbolizes family unity. The lanterns symbolize the hope of a bright future for the child.

3. Taiwan International Festival of Arts - March

This annual festival hosted by the National Theatre and National Concert Hall includes native Taiwanese works as well as International avant-garde performances. The concept of this event is cross-border and cross-culture.

4. Kending Spring Music Festival - April

This event brings together well-known underground music groups as well as mainstream groups from Taiwan and around the world. An interesting mix of old and new, rock-and-roll, pop, electronic, and hip-hop tunes can be heard here.

5. Traditional Performing Arts Festival - April
This festival features traditional and Aboriginal music, opera, and puppetry. Performances are held in Taiwan and Yilan.

6. Dragon Boat Festival - June and sometimes late May
Many boat racing teams from all over the world participate in these festive boat races in Taipei, Lugang (Lukang) and Kaohsiung. The teams compete for prizes by racing in long boats. To increase the excitement, a drummer accompanies each boat. This festival commemorates the attempt to rescue the poet Chu Yuan more than 2,000 years ago. In addition, it has become a time for strengthening one's body and getting rid of harmful spirits.

7. Ho-Hai-Yan Rock Festival in Gongliao - July
Held on the beaches of Taiwan's North Coast, this high-energy Rock Festival features rising star rock bands, Mando-pop singers, and international performers.

8. The Ghost Festival - August

This is a time to give spirits from the underworld their salvation.

9. Taiwan Culinary Fair - August
This fair introduces visitors to a host of culinary delights that are uniquely Taiwanese including snack foods, tea-infused dishes, Hakka delicacies, Aboriginal specialties, and much more. Cooking competitions and celebrity chef classes are held. Pavilions and food courts are set up to give visitors a chance to taste these delicious delights.

10. Penghu Seafood Carnival - late August and September
886 6 926 2620
www.temp.penghu.gov.tw
Visitors have the opportunity to catch fish and enjoy fresh and delicious seafood feasts.

11. Mid-Autumn Festival - September to October

This festival celebrates the full moon, family unity, and the oneness of humanity.

12. Dongshan Tea Art Cultural Festival - September

Township Nursery and Haocha Tea Plantation
Zhongshan Village, Dongshan Township
Yilan County
886 3 959 1105
www.dongshan.gov.tw
This tea festival revolves around a special aromatic tea called Sa Xin Tea grown in Dongshan Township in Yilan County. Tea lovers can taste the tea as well as learn about the tea-making process. Additional activities include making green tea ice-cream and dragon beard candy.

13. Confucius Birthday Ceremony - September
September 28th is the birthday of Confucius. This event is celebrated with early morning ritual services at Confucius temples throughout Taiwan. The highlight of this birthday ceremony is held at the Taipei Confucius Temple where 64 school-children dressed in traditional saffron robes perform a classic ceremonial dance called the bayi.

14. Kite Festival - September/October
This colorful, fun festival, held in Shimen in New Taipei City, attracts kite-flying enthusiasts from Taiwan and around the world.

15. Taiwan Hot Springs and Fine Cuisine Carnival - October to November
You can choose from a large number of hotsprings including hot, cold, sulphur, mud and more to experience a rejuvenating bathing experience while at the same time tasting healthy and delectable cuisine.

16. Sichong River Hot Spring Festival - October to January
Sichong River Hot Spring Area
Kaohsiung City/ Pingtung County
886 8 833 8100, ext. 165
This festival combines the relaxation and rejuvenation benefits of bathing in the Sichong River Hot Springs and savoring the culinary delights of its local cuisine.

17. Taipei International Beef Noodle Festival - November

Taipei's restaurants offer a wide range of beef noodle dishes giving visitors a chance to try Taiwan's unique variety which can be eaten in soup, roasted, hot & spicy as well as other styles of preparation.

18. Double Ninth Day (known as Chung Yang or Double Yang)

This celebration is a time to respect and commemorate the elders.


ABORIGINAL FESTIVALS

The aboriginal tribes of Taiwan ethnically belong to the Malay race and speak the Austronesian language. There are 14 tribes living in Taiwan which have their own languages, tribal structures, rituals, and traditions.

1. Mayasvi Ceremony - February
This is the holiest ceremony of the Tsou Tribe. Held annually and alternately organized by the Dabang and Tefuye Communities in Chiayi County. The tribe's war ceremony includes rites of triumph, rites for enemies and welcoming rites for the Gods. Ceremony is held at the tribal gathering place for men (Kupah).

2. Dahwu Fly Fish Festival - March/April
The Flying Fish Festival held by the Tao Tribe living on Orchid Island is a time for the Tao people to pray to and thank the gods for an abundance of fish. Festival runs for approximately four months and participation is open only to men.

3. Bunun Festival - April/May
The Ear-Shooting Festival is the Bunun Tribe's most important festival. It is a time to pray for good hunting and a good harvest. It is also a coming of age rite in which hunting skills and life values are passed on to Bunun boys.

4. Ami Harvest Festival - July/August

www.dmtip.gov.tw/eng/amis.htm
This harvest festival is to express appreciation for the blessings given to the Amis by their ancestors and gods. This holiday is celebrated with singing, dancing and sumptuous meals. Throughout the holiday which lasts about a week, you can observe as well as participate in a host of festival activities.

5. Festival of Austronesian and Formosan Cultures - August

Held in Taitung annually, this festival gives visitors a chance to experience first-hand Austronesian cultures by sampling their native dishes, watching Aboriginal cultural performances and learning about their lifestyle, handicrafts and rituals.

6. Saisiyat Sacrifice to the Short Spirits - October/November
This three day festival, also known as the "Pastaai Festival," is held biennially by the Saisiyat people to appease the spirits of an extinct tribe called the "short people." According to an ancient tradition, the "short people" taught the Saisiyat farming. The two groups were friendly until an incident led to war between them. Soon after the Saisiyat began suffering from a series of misfortunes which they attributed to the revenge of the short people. To ask for forgiveness and to calm the spirits of the "short people," the Saisiyat established this festival. Every ten years a mega Pastaai is held; the next one will be in 2016.

7. Puyuma Annual Festival - late December
This annual ritual of the Puyuma Tribe combines the "Monkey Ceremony" and the "Hunting Ceremony." The Monkey Ceremony is a rite of passage marking a tribal boy's entry into adulthood. A boy generally begins his training at age 11 and at the age of 20 he participates in these tests which are designed to build courage and cooperation between young men. The most important of these many tests is the killing of a monkey with a bamboo staff. Today, this tradition is carried out symbolically with the use of toy monkeys instead of real ones. After having successfully completed the "Monkey Ceremony" tests, a boy is allowed to participate in the "Hunting Ceremony." Here he must hunt down a wild animal within five days. After accomplishing this feat, he is considered an adult and is eligible for marriage.