Festivals You Can Only Experience in Taiwan

The annual Pingxi Sky Lanter
The annual Pingxi Sky Lanter | © Imaginechina Limited / Alamy Stock Photo
Ciaran McEneaney

There are many festivals held throughout Taiwan, and while some such as Dragon Boat Festival are celebrated throughout the world, there are others that you can only experience here in the land they call Formosa. Here are ten of the most popular festivals that are unique to the island nation.

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Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival

Andrew Haimerl /

The Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival is one of Taiwan’s most famous festivals and one that attracts people in their thousands. Each year during Lantern Festival people head for the small village of Pingxi to release sky lanterns with messages for the gods into the night sky.

One of the most unusual and certainly most dangerous festivals in Taiwan, those who attend intentionally put themselves in the line of fire. People dress in whatever protective clothing they can find and walk by beehive structures crammed with thousands of firecrackers and fireworks.

Jinshan Fire Fishing Festival

This festival was started to promote the dying art of fire fishing and help boost the fishing trade. The festival organizers arrange a variety of events, but by far the most popular is the chance for photographers to head out onto the water and capture it all on film.

Biennial Butterfly Beauty Festival

This festival takes place from November to March the following year when millions of Euploea butterflies arrive in the Maolin Scenic Area to stay for winter. As only one of two winter migratory butterfly gorges in the world, for many, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to witness millions of butterflies in one location.

Mazu International Festival

Considered one of the most important cultural events in Taiwan, this festival started in 2004 to promote local traditions regarding worship, martial arts, the arts, and industry. It’s a festival of incredible diversity with something for everyone throughout the week-long festival.

Song Jiang Battle Array

Long ago the men of Neimen often had to protect themselves against the local indigenous tribes that would raid their land. They became experts in defending their land and passed on their skills through generations. These days the Kaohsiung District is home to 54 battle parades which honor the military tradition. The Song Jiang Battle Array is 18 of these parades in a single event.

Yunlin International Puppet Arts Festival

Puppetry plays an integral part in both Chinese and Taiwanese folklore and is celebrated in this unique festival held in Yunlin County. Displays and performances of puppetry, shadow puppetry, and marionette are held throughout the festival with awards handed out for the best in each class.

Taiwan International Balloon Festival

The hot air balloons that take to the sky during this festival have brought a lot of tourism to the area, and now the festival has grown to include balloon rides, concerts, and even balloon wedding celebrations.

Ear-shooting Festival

No, it’s not quite what the name suggests. This festival known as Mala-Ta-Ngia which is held in the south of Taiwan is a chance for members of the indigenous Bunun tribe to show off their archery skills by shooting at animals’ ears that are pinned to trees.

Fulong Sand Sculpting Festival

Held on one of Taiwan’s most beautiful stretches of sand, this festival is an ever popular day trip for Taipei residents. It’s just a short ride on the train from the capital and the sculptures on display are truly a sight to behold.

landscape with balloons floating in the air

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