20 Best Festivals in Taiwan

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Are you eager to learn more about Taiwanese culture?

Learn about upcoming festivals in Taiwan. That way, if you plan on traveling to this beautiful island country, you can visit during a festival to experience more of Taiwan’s rich culture.

In this guide, I’ll give you some background information on part, but not all, of festivals in Taiwan that happen throughout the year.

9 Cultural Festivals in Taiwan #

First off, I’ll cover the most common festivals in Taiwan.

Indeed, many of these are also celebrated in other East Asian cultures.

You may also find people hosting celebrations for these holidays or festivals in your country.

1. Qingming Festival

The Qingming Festival—“Pure Brightness” Festival or Tomb Sweeping Day—is a traditional Chinese festival.

During this day, locals will visit tombs and clean gravesites.

Taiwanese will also pray to their ancestors and eat glutinous rice green dumplings that include Jersey cudweed paste.

Tomb Sweeping Day often falls on the first day of the fifth solar term of the lunisolar calendar.

Here’s another way that you can remember the date—it’s the 15th day of the Spring Equinox.

2. Taiwan Lantern Festival

During the time otherwise known as 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.

On the other hand…

Throughout Kaohsiung and Taipei, you can take part in any of the other festivals throughout the cities.

Best of all:

In Tainan City, they’ll have the Yanshui Beehive Rocket Festival. During the evening of this festival, a parade of palanquins will carry massive cylinders full of bottle rockets.

As the parade pauses, they’ll place these “beehives” every couple of yards and later ignite them.

From there, the “bees” erupt from the hives in all directions.

If you attend the Beehive Rocket Festival, make sure you bring gear to protect yourself from the bottle rockets. This could include helmets or gloves.

3. Dragon Boat Festival

Also known as the Poet’s Festival, the Dragon Boat festival acts as one of the country’s major annual celebrations.

During this day, many will gather at lakes to watch the dragon boat races.

Teams from Taiwan will face other Taiwanese or foreign teams.

One of the most popular places to gather is Sun Moon Lake in Nantou County.

You will also want to eat some glutinous rice dumplings during this festival. Because it’s the customary dish.

4. Ghost Festival

During the seventh month of the Lunar calendar is the Ghost Month.

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.

On the 29th of the month, the spirits will return to whence they came.

On the 15th day of the Ghost Month, Taiwanese will celebrate the Ghost Festival (Zhongyuan Festival). On this day, Taiwanese 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.

There are many other traditions that Taiwanese practice during Ghost Month. However, that’s the basic information that you will want to know.

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5. Hakka Yimin Cultural Festival

First off:

I want to give you a bit of background around the Hakka before explaining this festival.

The Hakka people migrated from China’s Guangdong to Taiwan at the beginning of the Qing dynasty—around 1644.

Now, this ethnic group makes up 15–20% of Taiwan’s population. They have a unique culture and language that adds another level of exploration to Taiwan.

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.

6. Spring Festival

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 to celebrate this festival, I’m going to focus on what Taiwan does.

By the way…

You can use this calendar to help you learn when the next Spring Festival is. That way, you can better plan your trip to Taiwan.

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. Over 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.

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7. Festival of light, Fo Guang Shan, Kaohsiung City

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, which is common throughout Taiwan during this time.

If you want to check out this festival, it’s free.

8. Moon 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), which 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.

9. 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’s Aboriginal Festivals #

Taiwan’s indigenous people have a rich culture that includes various festivals that occur throughout the year.

Keep reading and I’ll tell you about what celebrations you should check out while you’re in Taiwan.

10. War Festival: Tsou Tribe

The War festival, which the Tsou Tribes call Mayasvi, is a tribal festival where the people pray to the war god in hopes that the deity will protect the tribe.

It lasts for a few days and happens every February.

On the last day at midnight, the Tsou’s voices will boom as they sing and bid the gods farewell

11. Harvest Festival: Amis Tribe

Throughout July and August, the Amis tribe will hold separate festivals that have three stages that include:

  1. Welcoming the spirits
  2. Feeding the spirits
  3. Sending off the spirits

Some festivities that’ll happen during the Harvest Festival include arrow firing competitions, tug-of-war, and a race.

This festival is now open to the public.

Whereas in the past, only the Amis tribe could take part.

12. Ear Festival: Bunun Tribe

The Bunun celebrate the Manaq Tainga (ear festival) from April to May every year.

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.

13. 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

Unfortunately, as far as I know, only men can take part in this ceremony.

Other Festivals in Taiwan #

The following are not major cultural festivals in Taiwan. Yet, they still play a huge role in what makes Taiwan the country it is today.

14. Boat Burning Festival

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.

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.

15. Golden Horse Film Festival

The Motion Picture Development Foundation R.O.C. hosts the Golden Horse Film Festival every December or November—usually in Taipei.

It’s the equivalent of the Academy Awards and has been happening annually since 1962.

It also focuses on Mandarin-language films from around the globe.

16. International Balloon Festival, Taitung

Every summer, between July and August, you’ll find the International Balloon Festival in Taitung county’s Luye.

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, you can fly over the East Rift Valley and catch a breathtaking view.

17. Taiwan Cherry Blossom Festival

From mid-February to somewhere in early April, you can 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.

18. Christmasland in Banqiao

christmasland sign in new taipei city, taiwan

Throughout 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 have a minute-long animation that’s displayed on the front of the building.

One of the days you can catch a concert.

However, you’ll have a hard time finding somewhere in the front to stand because people tend to camp there to reserve spots.

Also, while you’re visiting Christmasland, you can try treats from the various food stalls that are set up.

19. Spring Arts Festival in Kaohsiung

Between February and July, Kaohsiung will host the Spring Arts Festival, which includes various exhibits and concerts throughout the city.

20. International Matsu Festival in 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.

Frequently Asked Questions About Festivals in Taiwan

Learn more about Taiwanese festivals and other holidays.

Explore commonly asked questions that you’ll find surrounding the subject.

What Is the Most Popular Holiday in Taiwan?

The most popular holiday in Taiwan is the Spring Festival—otherwise 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.

Throughout the country, cities will adorn their cities with Christmas decorations. Many Taiwanese will also decorate their homes and shops. However, you won’t find Taiwanese celebrating Christmas like in the west.

For instance, there are no Christmas tree lots. Most Taiwanese will buy fake trees instead.

Experience a Festival in Taiwan

While the government doesn’t recognize all the festivals on this list, they recognize many.

Taiwan always has something going on—whether it’s a music festival, recognizing a past event, or celebrating their unique culture.

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