Taiwan’s lantern festival a display of light, art

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iol travel feb 25 taiwan lantern REUTERS File photo: Pig shaped lanterns are displayed at the Lantern Festival exhibition in Taipei . The Lantern Festival traditionally starts 15 days after the Chinese Lunar New Year.

Taipei - Taiwan's annual lantern festival, which traditionally ends Chinese New Year celebrations, in now under way with displays that showcase the island's high-tech industry.

The Chinese tradition of hanging lanterns on the first full moon of the new year dates back more than 2,000 years, and has morphed into a craft-making bonanza for children and another reunion opportunity for extended families.

Since 1990, tourism authorities in Taiwan have picked a different city each year to host the island's main lantern expo.

Hsinchu, the location of this year's festival, which began on Sunday, is Taiwan's version of Silicon Valley, and hosts the headquarters of tech powerhouses such as Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing.

“Our slogan this year is 'technology moves culture',” said Irene Hsieh, a spokeswoman for Hsinchu's county government. “Hsinchu is home to Taiwan's largest science park, so tech is our specialty.”

The county reserved 30 hectares of land to fill with thousands of small lanterns, as well as large, ornate floats, to bring a sense of tradition, mood and wonder for the estimated 10 million visitors expected.

The centrepiece of the festival is a circular lighting installation called the “Ring of Celestial Bliss.” Sponsored by Taiwanese conglomerate Delta Electronics, the installation features a 709-metre, 270-degree raised circular screen, with high-definition projectors that will play a set program that promotes environmental protection.

On the outside of the installation, LED wall lights will dazzle in different colours.

Another display, called “Taiwan Hakka Festivities,” animates a traditional Chinese ink-wash painting. Painters and computer animators worked together to bring dozens of individual characters within the painting to life.

Parades and light shows are planned throughout the festival, including a show by lantern designers from Japan with moving floats, including one of demon caricatures swinging weapons.

The Taiwan Lantern Festival runs until March 10. - Sapa-dpa

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