Taiwan is a cultural treasure trove, and all year around festivals, cultural events and ceremonies are held in towns and cities all over the island. With a lunar calendar used to decide dates, you can plan to be in the right place at the right time to witness any of these spectacular events;
Chinese New Year (Public Holiday)
As in Mainland China New Year is celebrated on the first day of the first new moon of the year. This is a serious cause for celebration, with an official three day holiday period often extended into a week of revelry and fun. Street parties fireworks and music dominate proceedings.
On the 15th day of the first moon, the towns of Yenshui, Luerhmen and Peikang literally erupt with color and spectacle as the lantern Festival begins. Visitors from all over Taiwan- and the world- gather for a loud and explosive celebration of Chinese fireworks- a must see for any pyro-technic fan.
Kuanyin is the goddess of mercy, and festivals in her honor are held at Buddhist temples all over Taiwan on her Birthday- the 19th day of the second moon. For more information on Buddhist temples click here Temples in Taiwan
One of the main Taoist deities is Matsu- the goddess of the sea, who protects and blesses fisherman and sailors and is often prayed to by those embarking on a long journey over the sea. On her birthday (the 23rd day of the 3rd Moon) celebrations in her honor are held at Tao Temples. For more information on Taoist temples click here: Temples in Taiwan
Dragon Boat Festival (Public Holiday)
On the fifth day of the fifth moon, a major day of racing is held across the island. Long, beautifully decorated Chinese dragon boats, each with a crew of expert oarsmen, race for local and national titles. This spectacular event is watched live and on TV by most Taiwanese people, who also regard this day as a time to prepare and eat steamed rice zongzi dumplings.
For the entire seventh moon, ghosts dominate the island of Taiwan. Sometimes called the Mid-Summer Ghost Festival !V this entire month is a period when its is believed that the spirits of the dead walk the earth. This is a long held Chinese Taoist belief, which has its roots with the birthday of the Chinese Guardian of Hell. It is believed he celebrates this day by decreeing an amnesty in the underworld, allowing all of the lost souls in hell to rise and return to earth for one month before being sent back.
During this month many special celebrations are held, with sacrifices and offerings laid out to feed and appease the wandering lost souls. The gates of tombs and graveyards are left open to allow the dead access to the world, and lanterns are floated in the sea to guide back the souls of those lost beneath the waves.
On the first and 15th day of the month, colorful ceremonies to honor the ghosts are held in public places and in Taoist temples. For more information on Taoist temples, click here: Temples in Taiwan
All over Taiwan, Ghost month is regarded with a great deal of superstition, and it is believed to be unlucky to travel, marry or hold a funeral during this time, before the ghosts once again depart the earth, and return to the fires of hell.
The seventh moon may be dominated by ghosts, but there is still time for romance, and on the seventh day- it is Lover!&s day- the Chinese equivalent of St Valentines day.
Moon Festival (Public Holiday)
The Moon Festival is a time to celebrate the celestial light of the moon. During this annual holiday, which falls on the 15th day of the 8th moon, there are plenty of spectacular fireworks displays throughout the night, and bakeries everywhere sell traditional !'Moon Cakes!(. This is also known as the Mid-Autumn festival.