Taiwan Travel Guides

January

Spring Festival: Taiwan’s most important festival is the Lunar New Year. This month-long extravaganza sees the whole nation take vacation, travel home and have lots of fun. At midnight on the full moon, fireworks blast evil spirits off the island. This is a noisy but fascinating time to be in Taiwan.

February

Lantern Festival: this traditional Chinese festival has its roots in the Han dynasty, but remains important in Taiwan as a reminder of its traditions and rituals. Beautiful lanterns are hung from every house, shop, temple and public park to bring good fortune in the coming year. This is also when traditional rice dumplings called tang yuan are consumed in great quantities.

March

Birthday of Kuan Yin: the Goddess of Mercy is the most popular Buddhist deity in Taiwan. She represents kindness and compassion, and is universally regarded as a mother figure. Temples become hives of activity on her birthday as couples come to pray for children and good luck. This day is a great time to visit any of the temples dedicated to Kuan Yin.

April

Festival of the God of Medicine: a unique procession happens on this day to honor the God of Medicine. A parade stretching for miles through Taipei consists of floats supporting legendary figures, deities, flowers and other wonderful images. It is the longest parade in Taiwan’s calendar and a real spectacle. Particularly amazing are the acrobats flipping around and a group of devotees who prostate themselves on the streets to drive out evil spirits.

Birthday of the Goddess of the Sea: one of Taiwan’s biggest festivals honors Matsu, the Goddess of the Sea. She is the patron deity of the island’s fishermen, so any coastal town or village will have elaborate and fun festivities on this day. Matsu is enshrined in about 300 temples around Taiwan, and visiting one on this day to witness the rituals can be an amazing experience.

May

Buddha Bathing Festival: in a celebration that goes back 2,500 years, the birth of the Buddha is honoured at many temples around Taiwan. Devotees make pilgrimages to temples, pray to statues of the baby Buddha and pour herbal water over these statues. The pilgrimage is thought to bring spiritual growth to those who participate.

June

Dragon Boat Festival: in an effort to ward off evil spirits and disease, boat races are held throughout the nation between competing teams. As one of the major Chinese festivals, there is always a huge turnout for this event. Wherever you can find a river, there will be a big, raucous race and plenty of fun events to accompany it.

July

International Sand Castle Festival: the golden beach of Yenliao is the site of Taiwan’s annual sand castle building competition. About two miles of fine sand makes for ideal conditions. Dozens of entries line the beach, creating a scene which is fun and relaxing for everyone.

August

Yilan International Children’s Folklore Festival: if you brought the kids along, or just want to enjoy a youthful environment, check out this fun weekend at Chinshui Park in Yilan. Children’s folklore is the theme, but the event is not just for kids. Performances, games, and exhibitions are planned to promote and maintain Taiwan’s traditional folk arts.

September

Ghost Month: the Asian version of Halloween is this fascinating month-long festival to honour and appease the dead spirits of Taiwan. Every town celebrates this event as people burn fake money, food, houses, cars and the like to keep hungry ghosts at bay. The streets are filled with burning things and lots of action, making this one of the most visually interesting and unusual times of the year to visit.

Mid-Autumn Festival: one of Taiwan’s most popular festivals celebrates the full moon and all it represents. This is when the delicious moon cakes make an appearance across the nation, and families reunite for a warm holiday. Many special events are planned around the island, and the atmosphere is happy and welcoming.

October

Double Tenth National Day: this important national day celebrates the birth of the modern Chinese nation. Military parades in the capital are punctuated by public parades, music concerts and fireworks at night. All in all, it’s a festive day to be in Taipei.

November

Wangchuan Ritual: the small town of Peimen at Sanliao Bay is the site of an interesting festival which takes place at Tunglong Temple. This day honours King Wan, one of the great kings in Chinese history. The King’s Boat is brought out and paraded through the town before being floated out to sea. Plenty of colourful rituals accompany this event at the temple and throughout the town.

December

Punuyumayan’s New Year Ritual: Beinan is one of the original aboriginal tribes in Taiwan. Each year the tribe holds special New Year traditions such as the Monkey Ritual, Union New Year Ritual and the Annual Great Hunting Ritual. These activities are of the highest importance to the eight clans of Beinan, and visitors will witness a truly special event if they travel to this village during the event.