Cities around the world are trying to figure out how to welcome the new year in the age of COVID-19. It’s likely that many events will be cancelled due to the ongoing risk of infection. However, here in Taipei we’re lucky to have mitigated the impact of COVID-19 and all but eliminated community transmission, meaning that most events can go on as planned.
Taipei, then, is in a unique position to be the hottest place to be on New Year’s Eve 2020. Even better, there are activities for everyone, whether you stay up late, get up early or prioritize your health. From the well-known fireworks at Taipei 101 and market at Miramar, there are also sunrise views, flag-raisings and a walking activity to enjoy. Although the usual influx of regional tourists won’t be coming due to travel restrictions, these events are likely to be crowded, so it’s advisable to plan ahead.
FOR THE NIGHT OWLS
– ICONIC TAIPEI 101 NEW YEAR FIREWORKS
In Taipei, residents and visitors gather hours before midnight in parts of the city with a clear view of the slender bamboo-shaped skyscraper dominating the city’s skyline, book out restaurants and hotels with the right views and plan parties centered around watching 101 light up. Any celebration can be seen on Xinyi Road (信義路) this day, with onlookers popping champagne corks, lighting up sparklers or, in some instances, proposing marriage! (Read also: 6 Things You Didn’t Know about Taipei 101)
This year, there are seven sites with art and lighting decoration across the city. Celebrating events starts on November 28, and in the hours leading up to the countdown, a party rages around Taipei City Hall, with popular entertainers booked to keep the crowd moving. For 2021, the theme will be Wanzhuan Taipei, Hanni Yiqi (玩轉台北，和你一起), which means “having fun together in Taipei.” Xiangshan, or Elephant Mountain, and Rainbow Riverside Park (彩虹河濱公園) are also popular places to watch the show, but you’ll have to get there early.
The MRT will operate all night and some buses will run late. However, public transportation tends to be crowded, some MRT entrances will be closed and several roads will be closed to vehicles. It is advisable to walk, if possible, to MRT Stations further away such as Yongchun (捷運永春站), Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall (捷運國父紀念館站), and Xiangshan (捷運象山站) to get to and from the area.
– MIRAMAR CHRISTMAS AND NEW YEAR CELEBRATION
For those who don’t want to brave the massive crowds around Taipei 101, the Miramar Entertainment Park (美麗華百樂園) in Dazhi (大直) offers a tempting alternative. The area, famous for its large cinema and Ferris wheel, hosts its New Year’s Eve party with a variety of performers. The celebration at Miramar starts on December 18, combining a Christmas market and several live shows taking places on different stages around the area. Golden decorations will abound to bring out the holiday vibes.
The entertainment complex is open until 1:00 a.m. on New Year’s Eve, and the event attracts around 100,000 people every year. In addition to the usual entertainment at Miramar, stands and booths are set up around the event area where you can grab food and drinks.
Miramar can be reached via MRT Jiannan Road Station (捷運劍南路站) or various buses, with several stops within walking distance.
FOR THE EARLY BIRDS
– ENJOY THE DAWN ON YANGMINGSHAN
The hiking trails and night views from Yangmingshan are well-known, but photographers and nature-lovers in the know head to Erziping (二子坪) for the best sunrise views. The best viewpoints include Taipei City, the ocean and Datun Mountain (大屯山). At sunrise, these feature layers of clouds like an oil painting streaking across the urban basin, with the southern Taipei foothills in the background, and Taipei 101 peeking out between them. Of course, visibility may vary. Although Bus 108 goes to the Erziping Tourist Center, it doesn’t run early enough to catch the sunrise; you’ll have to drive. Dress warmly and check the weather forecast before you go. (You might also like: Take a hike: the best hiking trails in Taiwan)
The easiest way to get to Erziping is to take the Secondary 101A Road (市道101甲), also known as Balaka Highway (巴拉卡公路). When you reach Erziping Visitor Center, drive to the end of the parking area and take the left-hand road. At this point you may have to walk, so plan accordingly.
– WATCH THE FLAG-RAISING AT THE PRESIDENTIAL OFFICE
The Presidential Office (總統府) flag raising at sunrise on New Year’s Day is a highly ceremonial affair. Every year, the president, vice president and other officials turn out to sing the national anthem and preside over the event. Last year this included the traditional military salute as well as a dance performance of Dianyin Santaizi (電音三太子, Techno Prince Nezha), which you might recognize from local temple festivals as the techno-loving dancers in god costumes with cheerful, pudgy masks. (Read more: 22 things to eat and do around Taiwan’s Presidential Office Building)
The public is welcome to witness the flag raising, but you’ll want to get there early to get a good spot on Ketagalan Boulevard (凱達格蘭大道), as it fills up quickly. The Presidential Office is walkable from MRT NTU Hospital (捷運台大醫院站) and Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall (捷運中正紀念堂站) Station.The MRT will be open all night, so you can take public transportation there and back.
FOR THE HEALTH NUTS
– FLORA EXPO GROUP WALK
A popular local activity that is less well-known to visitors, the group walking activity at the Taipei Expo Park (花博公園) has been held for almost two decades. The walk begins at 8.30 a.m. at the park, and heads through the park, past the Lin An-tai Historical House and Museum (林安泰古厝) — which is also worth a visit — passes through the Dajia Wharf (大佳碼頭) and turns back after heading under Dazhi Bridge (大直橋). This is one way to get a taste of truly local Taipei on New Year’s Day, as it’s more of a city resident activity than a tourist event.
The philosophy behind the walk is to start off the new year by “using your feet to pray” for your continued good health. The entire route is said to require the recommended daily count of 10,000 steps. Registration is NT$600 to enter, and includes a lucky draw for a variety of prizes.
Taipei Expo Park can be reached via MRT Yuanshan Station (捷運圓山站), as well as several buses stopping at Taipei Fine Arts Museum (台北市立美術館).
KEEPING TAIPEI CLEAN
Every year, New Year’s Eve events create a great deal of litter. When enjoying these events, remember to dispose of your litter properly in garbage or recycling bins. This is especially important this year because it’s advisable to wear masks in large crowds where social distancing won’t be possible. Don’t forget to dispose of your masks properly. To further reduce environmental impact and traffic concerns, taking advantage of Taipei’s excellent public transportation network is also highly recommended when possible.
(Words by: Jenna Lynn Cody;
Photos by: Yenping, Hope Foundation, Miramar, Office of the President, Department of Information and Tourism, Taipei City Government)
This article is reproduced under the permission of TAIPEI. Original content can be found at the website of Taipei Travel Net (www.travel.taipei/en).