Though Christmas isn’t an official holiday in Taiwan, folks around these parts are generally up for any excuse to engage in festivities so it hardly comes as a surprise that this most festive of western holidays has caught on somewhat on our predominantly Buddhist / Taoist / Tribal island nation. Signs of holiday festivities abound, from piped-in Christmas carols in most supermarkets (usually starting with typical Taiwanese decorum in early December, as opposed to the day after Halloween as is increasingly the case in the USA) to holiday decorations hung casually in coffee shop windows.
(On a related note, we were particularly impressed with both the efficiency and cultural inclusivity demonstrated by this particular display recently spotted in the window of the Louisa Coffee Shop across from the Tzu Chi Buddhist hospital, combining expertly and efficiently iconography from both Halloween and Christmas.)
While Christmas isn’t technically celebrated in Taiwan (it’s not a day off, though most companies – MyTaiwanTour included – will have deck the halls themed party a few days before the actual holiday), non-technical celebrations are done pretty spectacularly in some spots.
Case in point, much of the less traveler-trammeled Banqiao area of New Taipei City has been transformed into the aptly named Christmasland, with everything from New Taipei City Plaza, Banqiao Central Park and the area around the Banqiao train station now filled with Christmas themed cuisine, entertainment, shopping amenities and an overall Xmas themed joi de vivre resembling a sort of New England county fair. If seeing Taiwan’s tallest Christmas tree, dancing Christmas lights, Christmas themed lanterns and an endless cavalcade of Christmas themed cartoon characters is your thing (or more likely, your kid’s thing), then the Children’s Carnival in the square in front of the station, promising storytelling, singing and dancing as well as regular gift giveaways for the kiddies will be more than worth the trip.
Click here to check out the 2017 Christmasland website including a schedule of activities.
Those looking to get into the Christmas spirit without venturing into the wilds of New Taipei City should head over to the Xinyi district for this year’s Disney-sponsored Frozen themed Winter Carnival, which runs until Jan. 14 at the Taipei 101 Water Dance Plaza. Activities include an ice-skating rink, a holiday themed marketplace, tons of kid-friendly events and, of course, a giant Christmas tree (though not as big as the one in Banqiao). Be prepared for crowds, especially on weekends, Christmas and, of course, New Years Eve.
Click here for more details.
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Aside from the carnival, big chunks of the Xinyi district (Taipei City’s biggest commercial district) is bedecked with trees, ornaments, and of course, boughs of holly. So if you were looking for an excuse to visit Taipei 101, now you’ve got one (not that you really needed an excuse).
If you’re looking to mix a hot spring soak in with your holiday cheer, you’ve got a number of options. Though way more associated with soaking than Santa, residents of one street in Taipei’s Beitou district (Alley 15, Lane 71, Section 1, Shipai Road, Beitou District, Taipei City / 台北市北投區石牌路一段71巷15弄) have been showing their holiday spirit annually by putting up festive Christmas lights annually from the last two weeks of December, keeping them up until Chinese New Year. Though not an official activity, the tradition has gained enough of a following for the lane to be dubbed Christmas Lane. Go for the cheer, stay for a soak at one of the area’s numerous springs.
If you’re even more serious about soaking and don’t mind a 90-minute train or bus ride, head out to the town of Jiaoxi in Yilan county, where December has been proclaimed “Hot Spring Festival Month”. Though not technically about Christmas, there are enough parades, performances and colorful hot spring themed festivities happening in the town throughout the month to make the place a worthwhile place to spend the holidays, and though you may not find a roast goose in Jiaoxi, the local smoked pressed duck makes an interesting substitute.
Click here for more details about December’s Hot Spring Festivities in Jiaoxi.
Of course, there are other random Christmas activities happening around Taiwan, with Christmas trees popping up in Taichung and Kaohsiung, and overall festivities abounding throughout the month and into January (when they’ll end just in time for the real festivities of Chinese New Year to ramp up).
Finally, if you’re looking to have a white Christmas in Taiwan, you’ll need get out of the cities entirely. As of this writing, snow has already fallen in Taiwan’s tallest mountain, Yushan (玉山), with a strong possibility of snow looming over Hehuanshan (合歡山).
Looking for more Taiwan holiday ideas?
Click here for 9 kid friendly events in Taipei.
Looking to really experience the best of what Taiwan has to offer? There’s still time to sign up for MyTaiwanTour’s customized Around Taiwan in 6 Days: Christmas Special Tour and save big in the process. Click here for full details!