Author Wendy Ng
Photo Department of Information and Tourism, Taipei City Government, Wendy Ng
Taiwan Lantern Festival 2023 has returned to Taipei after 23 years. Organized by the Taiwan Tourism Bureau (觀光局) and Taipei City Government (台北市政府) , the festival is officially launched on February 5, the 15th day of the Lunar New Year, and will run till February 19. The lantern extravaganza is generating great excitement as it’s the first big scale festival open to everyone since Taiwan’s easing of pandemic restrictions.
Embracing the theme “Light up the future” and celebrating the Year of the Rabbit, this urban lantern festival is a visual feast of lights with dazzling displays in the heart of the city. The festival sites are described as “Disneyland without roller coasters” as they are filled with fun and vibrant installations featuring innovative lighting technology integrated harmoniously with traditional lantern art and culture.
This year, the festival spreads over 168 hectares with four main exhibition areas, over 300 exhibits, and 12 administrative lantern areas. Are you planning to visit the festival? Check out this festival guide so you’ll not miss the best lantern displays at Taiwan Lantern Festival 2023.
Central Display Zone (中央展區)
The festival’s main display zone is divided into two areas: National Dr. Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall(國父紀念館) in the north zone and Taipei City Hall Square(台北市政府廣場) in the south zone. The festival’s opening ceremony was held at the National Dr. Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall and this sprawling display zone has the main lantern, three secondary lanterns, and six themed zones.
1. Brilliant Light of the Jade Hare (玉兔壯彩) | Akibo Lee(李明道)
This striking 22-meter lantern is designed by the Taiwanese artist, Akibo Lee. It’s the first time that robot modeling technology is used to create a lantern at the festival. The space robot lantern pays homage to Taiwan’s achievements in the semiconductor industry. Embodying the best of technology and traditions, the rabbit is produced using performance capture technology that enabled the rabbit to emulate the facial expressions of Olympic gold medalist weightlifter Kuo Hsing-chun(郭婞淳). Not only that, the lantern’s Chinese name is written by Master calligrapher Chang Ping-huang(張炳煌). The robot is animated with lights and sounds every 30 minutes for about 3 minutes.
2. The Spiral Dragon Brings Prosperity (蟠龍獻瑞) | Lan Yung-chi(藍永旗)
Framing the entrance to the Central Display Zone, this magnificent lantern is inspired by Chinese folk tales and the Chinese phrase–“craftsmanship must have meaning and the meaning must be auspicious.” The auspicious lantern combines blessings with technology as the dragon is animated vividly every 30 minutes.
3. Starting From the Heart (從心出發) | Huang Wen Chian(黃文全)
The star of this lantern is a family of Taiwanese blue magpies perched on the colorful tree. The father magpie is spreading its wings and ready to soar with the mother magpie and their chicks. This heart-warming display is animated with light and sound every 30 minutes.
4. International Friendship Lantern Area (國際友誼燈區)
The International Friendship Lantern Area is a popular section at the festival and this year, you’re in for a treat as you can travel around the world with captivating lanterns from Japan and other countries like South Korea, Indonesia, and Belize.
Lights of the Future Display Zone (未來展區)
Covering the cosmopolitan Xinyi District(信義區), this display zone showcases Taipei’s vibrant culture and digital technologies. You are invited to interact with the exhibits and explore the buildings that house a number of innovative lanterns.
5. Taipei NEXT! (台北 NEXT!) | Dintas Digital Company Limited(鼎拉斯數位股份有限公司) & Taipei 101 Bling your Dream(台北101 閃耀夢想) |TAIPEI 101 & Uno Lai(賴雨農)
Find a good spot in front of Taipei City Hall and enjoy two spectacular light displays. First, Taipei NEXT! is a projection mapping that shows the fun and futuristic spirit of Taipei on the front façade of Taipei City Hall. To the right of the city hall, you can watch the light display dancing on the Taipei 101 tower.
6. Bunny Bun Bun (兔兔餐包) | Dintas Digital Company Limited
This cute display greets you once you step inside Taipei City Hall. Resembling soft buns, the gigantic rabbits are stacked playfully. This “instagrammable lantern” celebrates food and the joy of enjoying time with family.
Beacons of Light Display Zone (光展區)
This display zone adds to the fun and trendy vibes of Taipei’s East District(台北東區). Over 16 large scale lanterns decorate the streets and alleys and pop up in surprising places.
7. Future Shuttle (未來 · 穿梭 · 兔子洞) | Chen Pu(陳普)
Look out for the huge rabbit that invites you to board the future shuttle from the entrance of the Far Eastern Sogo Department Store(遠東百貨). Unleash your imagination and walk through the “rabbit hole” that leads you to the Zhongxiao Fuxing Station(捷運忠孝復興站) or beyond.
8. Light Rabbit in Taipei (光兔現蹤) | Oscar Oiwa
This eye-catching lantern is the creation of Japanese-Brazilian artist, Oscar Oiwa. The illuminated rabbit rests on top of the exit 1 entrance of Sun-Yat-sen Memorial Hall Station and has fixed its gaze on a globe reflecting city landscapes. This lantern captures the global and inclusive outlook of Taipei.
Fount of Light Display Zone (源展區)
Songshan Cultural and Creative Park(松山文創園區) is the special site for this display zone. The former tobacco factory has been transformed into a creative hub with galleries that host exhibitions and innovative shops. You may immerse yourself in the creativity and energy of the city with over 20 lanterns inside the building and also outdoors in the baroque-style garden.
9. Taipei Together (臺北兔給樂) | B’in Live(必應創造) x Bito
Immerse in the 3D video installation on the colossal box that’s delivered by the adorable courier– a white rabbit sitting in the box. The rabbit and box are hiding surprises so join the “bunny virtual express” to unravel the mystery of the box.
10. Connect with the Ancestor (和祖靈對話的路徑) | Iyo Kacaw 伊佑∙噶照（阿美族）
This evocative lantern recreates an open fire using colors and lights. Fire is an important spiritual symbol of the indigenous tribes in Taiwan. The artist has integrated the Aboriginal culture and belief into this artwork that connects the human and spiritual worlds and fosters cultural exchange.
Lantern Display Zones in 12 City Districts
In addition to the four major festival zones, the festival has extended to local communities. Each of the 12 city districts have worked with communities to create small scale, meaningful lantern displays that reflect their culture and history. The display zones include Songshan Lantern Display Zone(松山燈區) with displays showing religious and cultural elements of local temples and the Guandu bird display in Beitou Lantern Display Zone(北投燈區) that encapsulates the coexistence of human and nature.
Visit the festival display zones easily using Taipei’s convenient public transportation system or hop on the special festival shuttle bus. The shuttle buses connect the four main display zones via 2 bus routes and each ride costs just NT$5. More information about transportation here.
To commemorate the festival, the organizers are giving away 80,000 Year of the Rabbit-themed paper lanterns. The exclusive “Aspirational Rainbow Rabbit” lantern was inspired by the white rabbit in Lewis Carroll’s 1865 novel, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. The lantern is multi-purpose–you can fold it into a handheld lantern or turn it into a pair of rabbit ears to wear. Find out more about how to get the lanterns here.
Wendy is a content creator who writes about her travel experiences at whywendywrites to escape from her city life in Singapore. Her writing journey started when she had the once-in-lifetime opportunity to live and teach in Okinawa and circumvent the world with the Peace Boat. A compulsive-obsessive traveler and culture enthusiast, she believes that when we know more, we travel better.