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Festivals All Year Round – Getting Close to Local Culture, Nature, and People

July 15, 2013 DESTINATION No Comments Email Email

Whenever you visit Taiwan, make sure to check out what festivals or activities are currently happening. 

There are exciting and entertaining events organized by local and central government and private organizers throughout the year.  These events present a great chance to learn more about local culture, engage in sports activities, explore the natural environment, sample delicious foods or just lean back and listen to music or watch a fireworks display.  Following is a small selection of happenings this summer.TAT-www.thailand.net.au

Jun. – Sep.
Tern-Watching Tour, Matsu (馬祖賞鷗季)
Locations: Beigan Island and other Matsu areas (馬祖北竿等地)
Tel: (0836)25630
Website: www.matsu-nsa.gov.tw

While the islands of Matsu, close to the coast of mainland China, seem to be far away from the main island of Taiwan, they are in fact just a one-hour flight away.  A trip to these rugged islands is highly recommended; awaiting you is enchanting scenery, old quaint villages, and a rich ecological environment.  Birders especially love Matsu for the latter, because here you have the chance to spot a wide variety of sea birds, many living on small protected islands.  The June-to-August period is the best time to see these birds.  Take a bird-watching boat cruise to get a close-up view of these beautiful and graceful creatures and also take in the marvelous view of Matsu’s rocky islands.

Sep. 4
Toucheng Cianggu Grappling with the Ghosts (頭城搶孤民俗文化活動)
Location: Wen Xiao Yi Culture Center/ Intersection of Kailan E. Rd. and Sec. 3, Toubin Rd. in Toucheng Township (文小一文化園區/頭城鎮開蘭東路與頭濱路三段交叉口)

Although the name of this competition says “grappling with the ghosts,” it is more about grappling with greasy poles.  Once a year teams of local lads compete against each other, trying to climb up poles approximately 70 to 80 feet in height, which are coated with a thick layer of beef tallow to make the task as difficult as possible.  Each team tries to reach the top first and grab the winner’s flag.  The competition is staged at Wushi Harbor in Yilan County on the east coast of Taiwan on the final day of the 7th lunar month (in Taiwan known as “Ghost Month,” a time when lost souls from the netherworld are allowed to come back to the world of the living).

Jul. 6 – Aug.25
Yilan International Children’s Folklore and Folkgame Festival (宜蘭國際童玩節)
Locations: Dongshan Water Park, Yilan County (宜蘭縣冬山河親水公園)
Tel: (02)2499-1115
Website: www.yicfff.tw/2013/en/

Held every summer, this festival always attracts families and water-lovers in great number to Dongshan Water Park.  The organizers creatively combine the various water-play facilities and music, and there are performances by numerous music and dance groups from around the world as well as distinctive exhibitions.  As the promoters say, it’s hard not to have fun during the Yilan International Children’s Folklore and Folkgame Festival.

July 10 – July 14
Hohaiyan Rock Festival (新北市貢寮國際海洋音樂季)
Location: Fulong Beach, Gongliao District, New Taipei City (新北市貢寮區福隆海水浴場)
Website: tour.tpc.gov.tw/2013hohaiyan

The Hohaiyan Rock Festival is one of the major music festivals of the year in Taiwan and draws thousands of revelers to the sandy beach of Fulong on the Northeast Coast.  The stage is built right on the beach, allowing visitors to listen to the music while sitting in the sand or playing in the ocean.  Numerous bands from Taiwan and abroad will entertain the crowd over this five-day happening.  Admission is free.  While in Fulong, also make sure to check out the scenic coast.  Rent a bike right at the railway station to visit places like the Old Caoling Railway Tunnel, the lighthouses of Sandiao Cape and Bitou Cape, the sandstone rocks of Longdong, and the strange rock formations at Nanya.  You can also take a bus on the Taiwan Tourist Shuttle’s Gold Fulong Route that strats at Ruifang Railway Station and passes Jiufen, Jinguashi, Shuinandong, Bitou Cape, and Longdong before reaching Fulong.

Aug. 7 – Sep. 5
Keelung Ghost Festival (雞籠中元祭)
Location: Laodagong Temple (老大公廟) and other places in Keelung
Tel: (02)2422-4170

The 7th lunar month (August 7 ~ September 4 in 2013) is known in Taiwan as Ghost Month.  During this month the lost souls of the deceased are allowed to come back to the world of the living, and they are greeted by the people with elaborate offerings at temples and a wide variety of traditional-style entertainment.  Probably the best place to witness these activities is the harbor city of Keelung northeast of Taipei.  The offerings and sacrifices for the ghosts (commonly named “good brethren” in Chinese) have been staged in Keelung for more than 150 years.  The highlight of the festival is the release of water lanterns of various shapes, for example ships, houses, and temples.  They are first paraded around the city on floats, with each of the floats having a plaque with the name of the family which has provided the lantern.  Released into the sea the lanterns are believed to be guiding lights for water ghosts, showing them the way to the offerings on land.

June 11 – Aug. 11
Taiwan Culinary Activities (臺灣美食系列活動)

Taiwan is often called a culinary paradise and, indeed, many a tourist visits the island with the objective of feasting on local delicacies that are not available elsewhere.  The annual Taiwan Culinary Exhibition has been staged for 23 years, each year highlighting different local culinary achievements and giving visitors many opportunities to see and taste for themselves what’s cooking in Taiwan – literally.  This year, the organizers have decided to change the format of this annual event and instead of staging a culinary exhibition at just one location as in previous years, there will be activities around the island.  As part of these activities, local cuisine will be highlighted in all of Taiwan’s national scenic areas, culinary contests will be held where hotels and restaurants compete against each other, the best restaurants around the island catering to tourist groups will be introduced, and an online vote will be held where the public can choose their favorite night markets.  For more info, visit www.tcff.com.tw/2013tcff (Chinese).

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