This guide will cover popular Taiwanese festivals throughout various seasons. And for different types of travelers.
I’ve lived in Taiwan for more than 5 years and participated in many of the festivals listed below. I want to help you learn what each festival is. And whether you should attend.
Festivals in Taiwan by Seasons & Months
Here’s a summary of what months Taiwan’s festivals fall under:
|Flying Fish Festival
|Taiwan Lantern Festival
|Lunar New Year
|Cherry Blossom Festival
|International Mazu Festival
|Kaohsiung Spring Arts Festival
|Flying Fish Festival
|Tomb Sweeping Festival
|Dragon Boat Festival
|International Balloon Festival
|Golden Horse Film Festival
|Double Ninth Festival
|Hakka Yimin Festival
|Boat Burning Festival
|October or November
Many (if not most) of these festivals don’t take place on set dates. That’s because they go by the lunar calendar and not the Gregorian.
Now we’ll dive into the details of each festival. Starting with the popular ones.
Most Popular Festivals in Taiwan
Many of these are also celebrated in other East Asian cultures. But this guide covers festivals celebrated in Taiwan.
The following sections will talk about when, where, why, and what happens at each festival.
1. Qingming Festival: Tomb Sweeping Day
The Qingming Festival—“Pure Brightness” Festival or Tomb Sweeping Day—is a traditional Chinese festival.
Locals will visit tombs and clean grave sites. They’ll also pray to their ancestors and eat glutinous rice green dumplings.
These include Jersey cudweed paste.
Tomb Sweeping Day often falls on the first day of the fifth solar term of the lunisolar calendar. It’s the 15th day of the Spring Equinox.
2. Taiwan Lantern Festival (Pingxi Lantern Festival)
During the “little New Year”, Taiwanese will feast on rice-flour dumplings and praise deities.
If you’re around New Taipei’s Pingxi Township, the Taiwanese will also release paper lanterns into the sky.
Best of all:
In Tainan City, they’ll have the Yanshui Beehive Rocket Festival. A parade of palanquins will roll through the streets and carry massive cylinders full of bottle rockets.
The parade will eventually pause. The palanquin carriers will place these “beehives” every couple of yards. Once set up, the carriers will ignite these hives. “Bees” will erupt from the hives in all directions.
Ensure you bring gear to protect yourself from the bottle rockets. Examples include helmets or gloves.
3. Dragon Boat Festival in Taiwan
The Poet’s Festival, the Dragon Boat festival, acts as one of the country’s major annual celebrations.
Many will gather at lakes to watch teams from Taiwan face other Taiwanese or foreign teams in dragon boat races.
Dragon boats are carbon and fiberglass canoe-like human-powered watercraft. The front of each boat is carved into a dragon head.
Meanwhile, the rear is carved into a tail. Hence, the name “dragon boat.”
One of the most popular places to watch these places is at Sun Moon Lake in Nantou County.
While you’re here, indulge on glutinous rice dumplings during this festival. Because it’s a customary dish.
4. Ghost Festival
On the first day of this spiritual month, the gates to the netherworld will open. This event releases spirits, or “Good Brothers” and “Good Sisters”, into our realm.
Throughout this month, many Taiwanese will follow varying superstitions to avoid possessions and angering these apparitions. For instance, they believe that people should not whistle at night or hang their wet laundry outside after midnight.
Come the 15th day of Ghost Month, Taiwanese will celebrate the Ghost Festival (Zhongyuan Festival). They’ll prepare fruit, flowers, and other sacrificial items and offer them to “hungry ghosts” at altar tables in front of people’s homes. Or, they’ll travel to temples with these offerings.
On the 29th of the month, the spirits will return to whence they came.
During the seventh month of the Lunar calendar is the Ghost Month.
There are many other traditions that Taiwanese practice during Ghost Month. However, that’s the basic information that you will want to know.
5. Spring Festival: Lunar New Year
The Spring Festival, otherwise known as the Chinese or Lunar New Year, occurs on the fifth day of the Chinese lunar calendar’s first month.
Various countries throughout Asia celebrate the Lunar New Year under different names. For instance, in Vietnam, they call it Tet. Or in South Korea, they call it Seollal.
While these countries have their traditions they practice celebrating this festival, I’m going to focus on what Taiwan does.
By the way…
Use this calendar to help you learn when the next Spring Festival is. It’ll help build your itinerary around the Chinese New Year
Taiwanese usually get at least five days off and spend the Lunar New Year doing the following:
- People clean their homes
- Families will host a massive feast
- Elders give children red envelopes to wish them good luck
- Sit in traffic
The Chinese New Year is also the holiday that has the largest human migration in the world. More than 1.8 billion people travel throughout this season as the holiday approaches .
If you’re up north during the Spring Festival, I recommend exploring Dihua Street in Datong District in Taipei City. It’s a famous Lunar New Year shopping area for all your Spring Festival needs. It’s also a place that’ll help you learn more about Taiwan’s history.
6. Moon Festival (Mid-Autumn Festival)
The Moon Festival, or the Mid-Autumn Festival, happens once the harvest season ends.
People will thank the deities for their bountiful harvests and gather with their families to celebrate. People will also barbecue, stroll under the moon, and eat pomelos.
Why do they eat pomelos?
Because the Mandarin word for this fruit is 柚子 (you zi). It sounds like the word that means “prayer for a son”. Eating these fruits and putting the rinds on their children’s heads signifies a prayer to Chang’e for the children.
Several stories gave this holiday its “Moon” name.
One story involves Chang’e, a woman who stole her husband’s elixir of life, became immortal, and flew to the moon.
Anyway, you’ll want to try as many moon cakes as possible while you’re in Taiwan during this festival. They’re everywhere and have varying flavors like red bean, salted egg yolk, green tea, and other unique flavors.
7. Double Ninth Festival
The Double Ninth Festival, or Chong Yang Festival, happens on the ninth day of the ninth lunar month, and it honors the elderly.
During this day, families will visit memorials, hike mountains, drink chrysanthemum tea or wine, and eat Chongyang cake.
Chongyang cake is a steamed and baked bun made of rice flour and sugar that cooks will decorate with jujube, almonds, and chestnuts. Taiwanese will eat these cakes on this day because they consider it a “lucky” food.
As for the chrysanthemum drinks, people will consume this specific beverage because it’s the time when these beautiful flowers bloom.
Taiwan Festivals for Families
These sections will cover festivals that’ll work best for families to attend.
1. Christmasland in Banqiao, New Taipei City
Throughout late November and December, the local government will decorate the New Taipei City Hall, and areas outside the Banqiao train station with intriguing light and light art installations.
They’ll also have a massive Christmas tree right outside the train station.
The themes of these displays differ each year depending on the sponsor. In 2020, it was Disney-themed, and in 2021, Christmasland had a LEGO theme.
Every day, at certain times, the New Taipei City Hall will play a minute-long animation that’s displayed on the front of the building. On one of the days, catch a concert hosted in the main market area.
You’ll also see food and souvenir stands. However, the food isn’t anything special compared to Taiwanese night markets or other restaurants. Thus, I recommend eating dinner before visiting.
2. Taipei Azalea Festival
The Taipei Azalea Festival happens in Taipei throughout March. Many vendors will set up stands in Daan Forest Park that have food and souvenirs.
It’s a fantastic festival to view various flower displays and to enjoy the fresh air.
3. Penghu International Fireworks Festival
View firework shows once or twice a week from fireworks launched from Xinying Rainbow Bridge, Penghu. These shows will happen weekly from mid-April until late-June or early-July.
Firework shows happen frequently in Taiwan. But it’s a great way to get the family outside if you’re in the Penghu area.
4. Fulong International Sand Sculpture Art Festival
From April to August, artists will have set up various sand sculptures throughout Northern Taiwan’s Fulong Beach. It’s a free festival to enter and also doubles as a trip to the beach.
Sand sculpture designs will vary. Sometimes you may find detailed sand castles. And others may have dioramas with the Studio Ghibli Character Totoro.
5. Taipei Children’s Arts Festival
During July, various outdoor and indoor venues will host Children’s Art Festival events. You’ll find various exhibitions and performances during this time.
6. New Year’s Eve
Come the eve of December 31st, many throughout Taiwan will find places to watch fireworks once the clock strikes midnight. If you’re a wealthy family and are in Taipei, try booking a hotel with a clear view of Taipei 101.
Like the Humble House. But you’ll need to book a year in advance. Room reservations fill fast.
Each city will have various firework shows. You’ll need to find the best spots to catch during that time.
Festivals for Couples
Couples could have a great date at any non-religious festival in Taiwan. However, here are some that I recommend.
1. Taiwan Cherry Blossom Festival
From mid-February to somewhere in early April, explore various parks throughout Taiwan and gaze at cherry blossoms.
You can visit Sun Moon Lake between February 1st and the 28th and experience Cherry Blossom Folk Songs, a fair, Yukata wearing, and other activities that’ll make you feel like you’re in Japan.
2. Spring Arts Festival, Kaohsiung
Between February and July, Kaohsiung will host the Spring Arts Festival, which includes various exhibits and concerts throughout the city.
3. International Balloon Festival, Taitung
This event has dozens of themed hot air balloons to gaze upon and ride. It has both tethered and untethered options available. If you choose the untethered option, fly over the East Rift Valley and catch a breathtaking view.
Every summer, between July and August, you’ll find the International Balloon Festival in Taitung county’s Luye.
4. Calla Lily Festival
Catch a glimpse at the rows of calla lily growths in Yangmingshan National Park (Taipei) between March and May. There’s not much to do other than view or buy calla lilies.
Once you’re done, you could hike or view the geothermal areas.
5. Megaport Music Festival
One of the largest indie metal and rock concerts in Taiwan. It happens annually (usually in March).
To find out when it’ll happen, check out megaportfest.com/timetable.
Lesser-Known Taiwan Festivals
These sections will cover festivals more-so known by locals and not by foreigners.
1. Boat Burning Festival
First, the festival will begin with a beachside ceremony. Taoists will invite deities who protect people from plagues to Earth to see the rituals that take place.
Moreover, during this time, people will pull the Wang Yeh boat around the town to absorb the people’s misfortune and diseases. Afterward, people will load the boat with money and rice.
During the last day, people will set the boat on top of a mountain of ghost paper and perform a series of rituals to invite the deities onto the ship.
From there, the people set the ship ablaze at dawn.
During China’s Song Dynasty, people held festivals where they burnt Wang Yeh Boats. They believed that doing so would ward off diseases.
This tradition remains vibrant in southern Taiwanese communities.
Taoists hold this festival every few years in October or November in Donggang.
2. International Matsu Festival, Taichung
On the 23rd day of the third month on the lunar calendar, one of Taiwan’s outlying islands, Matsu, will host one of the world’s largest pilgrimages for the goddess of fishermen, Matsu.
This pilgrimage lasts for nine days and ends at Zhenlan Temple in Taichung City.
Also, the pilgrimage honors Matsu’s birthday.
3. Hakka Yimin Cultural Festival
The Yimin Festival is a three-day event that celebrates the Hakka culture and the Yimin.
Yimin Ye is a belief that refers to people who fought to protect the Hakka peoples’ homeland.
If you want to check out this festival and care for animal rights, you will not appreciate the “Pigs of God” part of the celebration. It’s when people will offer pigs to the gods. You also may see dead pigs and pig skins displayed throughout festivals.
4. Yuguang Island Art Festival, Tainan
The Yuguang Island Art Festival takes place on Tainan City’s Yuguang Island during April. It features works from varying artists.
5. Eden Hill Music Festival, Nantou County
Every year at different times, a remote area in Nantou County will host an electronic music festival.
There’s not much else to say on this festival. Other than to follow their Facebook page to keep tabs on when the event will happen.
6. Treasure Hill Light Festival, Taipei
Takes place in an old military dependents village that’s now home to many former KMT soldiers. Each year from late March to early May, you’ll find outdoor markets and tens of art displays.
A video to give you a sneak peek:
Here’s the address for Treasure Hill: 100, Taipei City, Zhongzheng District, 汀州路三段230巷51弄3號
7. Yunlin International Puppet Arts Festival
Every year in October, find glove puppetry exhibitions, plays, and art installations throughout Yunlin County. To make the most out of this festival, visit the Yunlin Hand Puppet Museum.
Despite being a little creepy, the Taiwanese put exceptional details when designing their shadow puppets. They’re worth checking out. Even if you’re not the biggest fan of dolls.
8. Festival of light, Fo Guang Shan, Kaohsiung
During the Lunar New Year, people at Fo Guang Shan in Kaohsiung City will adorn the grounds with lights and lanterns for a month.
These decorations are to celebrate the new year.
One night, they’ll also launch fireworks. This is common throughout Taiwan during this time.
If you want to check out this festival, it’s free.
9. Qixi Festival: Chinese Valentine’s Day
“Chinese Valentine’s Day” happens on the 7th day of the 7th Lunar month (August or September). You may find firework shows or other celebrations in the city you’re visiting for Qixi.
Why not just celebrate February’s Valentine’s Day?
Qixi is based on a romance story between Niulang and Zhinü. A story you’ll need to check out on your own.
10. Jishan Fire Fishing Festival
Every July in Jinshan, fishermen will create a flammable gas from sulfuric rocks that’ll ignite bamboo torches on their boats. These boats will then attract schools of silver-scale sardines.
The festival’s dying out. However, it’s fascinating to see all the silver fish fluttering around the boats.
I honestly don’t know whether tourists can still tag along. I saw a listing on Klook . But it’s unavailable.
Taiwan Festivals by Region
Here’s a list of Taiwanese festivals by region, city, or county:
|Central, West, & East
|South & Outlying Islands
|Golden Horse Film Festival
|Boat Burning Festival
|Eden Hill Music Festival
|Spring Arts Festival
|Pingxi Lantern Festival
|Yunlin International Puppet Arts Festival
|Festival Of Light
|Taipei Azalea Festival
|International Balloon Festival
|Yanshui Fireworks Festival
|Calla Lily Festival
|Megaport Music Festival
|Treasure Hill Light Festival
|Yuguang Island Art Festival
|Fulong International Sand Sculpture Art Festival
|Taiwan International Mango Festival
|Taipei Children’s Arts Festival
|Penghu International Fireworks Festival
Taiwan’s Aboriginal Festivals
Taiwan’s indigenous people have a rich culture that includes various festivals that occur throughout the year. The following sections will provide a brief description of each festival.
Usually these festivals are for tribes people. I don’t recommend joining these without an invitation.
1. War Festival: Tsou Tribe
The War festival (Mayasvi) is a tribal festival where the people pray to the war god in hopes that the deity will protect the tribe.
On the last day at midnight, the Tsou’s voices will boom as they sing and bid the gods farewell
It lasts for a few days and happens every February.
2. Harvest Festival: Amis Tribe
Throughout July and August, the Amis tribe will hold separate festivals that have three stages that include:
- Welcoming the spirits
- Feeding the spirits
- Sending off the spirits
Some festivities that’ll happen during the Harvest Festival include arrow firing competitions, tug-of-war, and a race. And it’s open to the public. In the past, only Amis tribe members could take part.
3. Ear Hunting Festival: Bunun Tribe
Manaq Tainga serves as a grand festival and a time when young men will go into the mountains and hunt. Which also serves as a pathway for the young ones to become adults.
The “ear” in the festival’s name comes from the youth venturing into the mountains to hunt. Once they take down an animal, they will slice the ears off their prey and skew them on a tree branch or pole for the village’s men to fire arrows at.
The Bunun used to hunt deer, nowadays, they hunt pigs, instead.
They will celebrate the Manaq Tainga (ear festival) from April to May every year.
4. Flying Fish Festival: Yami Tribe
From January to June, the Kuroshio Current will bring the richest harvest of flying fish for the Yami (Tao) tribe who live on Orchid Island.
The actual festival and ceremonies start in the second or third month of the lunar calendar. Afterward, these ceremonies will continue for several months.
Moreover, some of what the Yami will do during the Flying Fish Festival include:
- Praying for a bountiful harvest
- Blessing the boats
- Summoning the flying fish
- Ceremony for storing fish
- First-fishing ceremony at night
- Fishing cessation ceremony
As far as I know, only men can take part in this ceremony.
Other Taiwanese Festivals
Other festivals in Taiwan I didn’t mention yet include the following.
1. LGBT+ Pride Parade
The last Saturdays in October, organizations who support LGBT+ rights will set up markets and booths in Taipei to celebrate and teach about LGBT culture.
Learn more about the festival here: taiwanpride.lgbt/flyers
In the afternoon, 2 different parades will usually depart from Taipei City Hall and march throughout the city.
2. Golden Horse Film Festival
The Motion Picture Development Foundation R.O.C. hosts the Golden Horse Film Festival every December or November (often in Taipei).
It’s the equivalent of the Academy Awards. And has happened annually since 1962.
However, it focuses on Mandarin-language films from around the globe.
3. Xinshe Flower Festival
Taichung’s Xinshe district will host a flower exhibition from November to December every year. It’s free to enter and a great way to see fields full of:
- Sage flowers
- Sulfur cosmos
- Garden cosmos
- Globe amaranth
And you’ll find plenty of exhibition tents.
4. Taiwan International Mango Festival, Tainan
From June to July, visit a touring fair in Tainan to try some of the best locally-grown mangos around.
FAQs: Festivals in Taiwan
Explore commonly asked questions that you’ll find surrounding Taiwanese festivals.
What Is the Most Popular Holiday in Taiwan?
The most popular holiday in Taiwan is the Spring Festival (Lunar New Year or Chinese New Year).
Do They Celebrate Christmas in Taiwan?
Yes, Taiwan celebrates Christmas. But Taiwan doesn’t recognize Christmas as a national holiday. Most companies won’t give their employees time off.
How Many Festivals Are There in Taiwan?
Taiwan has 6 popular traditional festivals. Otherwise, they have dozens of other festivals.
Who Organizes Festivals in Taiwan?
Local governments or communities usually organize festivals in Taiwan.