Explore Taiwanese Culture Through Local Festivals

Hundreds of illuminated paper lanterns float in the night sky

Dragon Boat Festival

The annual Dragon Boat Festival takes place on the 5th day of the 5th month of the Chinese lunar calendar (This is usually late May or June on the Gregorian calendar.)

Taiwanese people developed their version of dragon boat races by combining Chinese folklore and indigenous boat racing traditions. Boaters construct their vessels in the sampan style, which includes traditional flat bottoms and colorful dragon-inspired painted motifs.

In addition to admiring the boats’ intricate designs and the competitive energy of the races, spectators can enjoy zongzi, a traditional rice dumpling.

Taiwan International Balloon Festival

Every July in the Luye Highlands, people attending the Taiwan International Balloon Festival admire a variety of colorful hot air balloons, enjoy concerts, and even witness balloon wedding ceremonies. 

Unlike the time-steeped traditions of other Taiwanese celebrations, this festival has only been around since 2011. In keeping with the youthful spirit of the event, people can spot hot air balloons shaped like the popular cartoon characters Hello Kitty and SpongeBob SquarePants.

Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival

According to legend, the practice of using glowing lanterns began in third-century China when military officials used them to send covert military signals. In modern times, the Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival is a way for participants to share their hopes for the new year.

Fifteen days after the Chinese New Year, revelers flock to the village of Pingxi where they write wishes for the gods on glowing paper lanterns and release them into the night sky.

Jinshan Fire Fishing Festival

This festival celebrates the traditional practice of fire fishing in which fishermen take to the water at night and light the end of a bamboo stick on fire. The flames’ bright light attracts thousands of sardines to the boat. 

While Taiwan’s Jinshan district hosts many events to mark the festival, photographers most look forward to accompanying the fishermen to document the ancient, illuminated art of fire fishing.  

Biennial Butterfly Beauty Festival

Every winter, millions of purple Eupleoa Butterflies migrate to the Maolin Scenic Area of Taiwanone of only two winter migratory gorges for butterflies in the world.

From November to March, the Biennial Butterfly Beauty Festival provides a unique opportunity for locals and eco-tourists to brighten the winter months with magical sights.

Ghost Festival 

Ghost Festival, also known as Ghost Month, takes place during the seventh month of the Chinese calendar. The festival marks the time of the year when the gates of the underworld open up and spirits are free to visit the earth.

The Taiwanese have superstitions surrounding Ghost Festival.  They try to avoid childbirths and weddings during this time. As a sign of respect, people do not refer to the deceased as “ghosts” but rather call them “good brothers.”