Thanks to centuries of migration and settlement, Taiwan is a melting pot of cultures, traditions and scenic beauty that leaves travelers spellbound. From art exhibitions to indigenous celebrations, religious pilgrimages to foodie festivals , Taiwan has something for every traveler.
Embark on a panoramic journey into the enigmatic world of Taiwan’s diverse communities, exploring lesser-known indigenous festivals, hidden art gems, and authentic traditional experiences along the way. We’ve highlighted the best festivals and events in Taiwan for every month throughout the year, so you can focus on picking your dates and we can do what we do best – everything else!
Festivals and Events in Taiwan: A Guide to the Year
New Year’s Eve in Taiwan is famed across all of East Asia, with travelers booking months in advance to secure a hotel in order to join in on the illuminating celebrations. The two biggest New Year’s Eve destinations are Taipei and Hualien, both of which have spectacular firework displays and concerts featuring some of Taiwan’s most famous musical artists. The deciding factor is purely preference over the iconic Taipei 101 skyscraper or the stunning Pacific Ocean as a backdrop for ringing in the New Year.
Hot Spring Season
Taiwan’s average temperature for the year sits firmly in the 20s (Celsius), meaning the best time to sit immersed in hot water is definitely during the coldest time of the year – mid-winter. Taiwan boasts a variety of hot springs, seawater springs and mud springs, providing an abundance of options if you are seeking a soothing soak. From the iconic Beitou and Yangmingshan hot springs in Taipei to the enchanting “Beauty Soup” Jiaoxi hot springs in Yilan, and the wild stream hot springs of Dona in Kaohsiung, there is no shortage of cozy experiences to be had. For adventurer looking for something truly unconventional, there are the rejuvenating mud hot springs in Guanziling near Tainan and the invigorating seawater hot springs of Green Island. The setting is also a variable, with options ranging from public bath houses to hourly private hot spring rooms to luxurious hot spring resorts with in-room hot spring suites. Any which way, a relaxing and rejuvenating escape is never far away!
Spring Festival（Chinese New Year）
Spring Festival is the most-celebrated holiday in Taiwan. Starting on the first day of the lunar calendar, preparations begin with cleaning the house to remove bad luck, followed by making rice cakes and hanging red couplets and posters to bring good luck. On Chinese New Year’s Eve, families gather for a reunion dinner featuring symbolic dishes such as longevity noodles, fish for abundance, radish for a good start, and pineapple for good luck. The celebration continues with fireworks at midnight, symbolizing a farewell to the old year and a welcoming of the new. In addition to these customs, Spring Festival also includes traditional religious rituals welcoming the God of Wealth on the fourth day of the Lunar Calendar, opening markets on the fifth day, and decorating streets and parks with traditional and modern artistic lanterns throughout.
On the night of fifteenth day of the first lunar month, a dazzling display of festivities takes place across Taiwan. In New Taipei City, the Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival is in full effect. Visitors and locals write their wishes on lanterns and release them into the sky, transforming the mountain city into a mystical wonderland. Meanwhile, in Tainan, the Yanshui Beehive Fireworks Festival is happening. A cascade of brilliant fireworks erupt into the sky to ward off evil spirits in favor of good fortune, igniting a frenzy of exhilarating celebrations in the streets where fireworks shoot off in all directions. Long-time participants have full-fledged protective gear so they can roam the streets immune to any direct “hits”. In Taitung, locals gather to participate in the “blasting of Han Dan,” where they use firecrackers to bombard the bare-chested Han Dan, clad only in a pair of red shorts. The vibrancy and excitement of these events is such that one might wish to split themselves into three to attend all at once!
*A note on sustainability here: The Pingxi sky lanterns are a thing – a big thing – so much so that any given Taiwan bucket list write-up will have them on it. What the enchanting lantern-dotted evening sky photos don’t show though, is the aftermath, the surrounding jungle ecosystem destroyed, ravaged with post-flight lantern debris. The local government has taken this matter to hand and now employs local villagers to hike the forest and clean up the debris. While this method does stimulate the local economy, by providing jobs, and keep the forest clean of trash, we have opted for a different type of lantern for WildTaiwan travelers – the Bank of Culture Sky Lanterns. In 2016, a Taiwanese start-up took the lantern pollution issue to a crowdfunding platform and raised $50k to develop an eco-friendly alternative to the existing non-biodegradable mass-produced lanterns. The result, the Bank of Culture Sky Lantern, a fully combustible all-paper lantern that completely self-immolates before any piece reaches the ground. So, for your excursion to Pingxi with WildTaiwan, you can go ahead and keep the lantern tradition alive but feel good about doing it with your very own eco-friendly lantern!
Taiwan International Festival of Arts (TIFA)
TIFA is an annual event held in various locations across Taiwan. It is a celebration of the arts, featuring a wide range of performances, including theater, dance, music, and visual arts. The festival usually takes place in the spring, from late February to early May, and showcases both local and international talents. Along with performances, there are also workshops, exhibitions, and other activities for visitors to participate in. Locations for the festival include Taipei, Taichung, and Kaohsiung.
Neimen Song Jiang Battle Ritual
Witness the epic bravery and loyalty of the Songjiang Battle Array, a traditional performance dating back to the Song dynasty. Originating from southern Fujian, the performance was brought to Taiwan during the 17th century. Today, hundreds of performers dressed in colorful costumes perform martial arts demonstrations before firecracker-adorned temple fronts. The event takes place annually in Neimen, Kaohsiung, between late February and early March (the exact date varies year to year). Visitors can indulge in local banquets called banzhuo (辦桌) and spectate the various cultural events including lion dances, temple fairs, and traditional school martial arts club competitions.
Alishan Cherry Blossom Festival
The Yoshino cherry blossoms and double-layered cherry blossoms at the Alishan Forest Recreation Area are in full bloom from mid-March to mid-April. During this time, petal-peepers from all over the island travel to Alishan to witness the pink petals falling gracefully with the wind, creating a beautiful photo-worthy scene of cherry blossoms raining down into a bath of muted pinks on the forest floor.
Flying Fish Festival
The flying fish festival on the remote Orchid Island is a one-of-a-kind celebration, deeply rooted in the culture of the indigenous Yami (Tao) people. Held on the turquoise-watered coast of Orchid Island, the festival marks the start of the flying fish season, a significant event for the Yami people. In line with ritual tradition, the Yami men dress in loincloths, silver helmets and gold shields, and face the sea to pray for a bountiful flying fish harvest to come. The festival also features Yami dances, music and ceremonies, with the highlight being the spectacular flying fish catching demonstration.
Dajia Mazu Pilgrimage
The annual Mazu pilgrimage is a century-old religious event that revolves around the Mazu goddess, believed to protect fishermen at sea. The procession starts in between late February and early March at Taichung’s Dajia Jenn Lann Temple and spans nine days, covering 330 kilometers across Taichung, Changhua, Yunlin, and Chiayi counties before returning to Dajia. With approximately 100,000 people in attendance in Dajia and millions more along the route, the pilgrimage features grand ceremonies for Mazu’s departure and return, along with various commemorative activities, folk performances, and firework shows. Devotees also offer free food and snacks along the way, and clean the streets behind the parade as it progresses from stop to stop.
Bunun Ear-Shooting Festival
The Bunun tribe’s Ear-Shooting Festival takes place between late April and early May (depending on the lunar calendar). The festival coincides with the millet planting season and peak hunting season, with the activities aimed at teaching sportsmanship and survival skills. Elder men in the tribe begin by hunting a wild deer. After, they affix one of the deer’s ears to a wooden post and younger men in the tribe try to shoot the ear with an arrow, representing the transfer of hunting knowledge to the younger generation. The festival is celebrated in rural villages throughout eastern Taiwan.
Penghu International Fireworks Festival
The Penghu International Fireworks Festival is a dazzling display of fireworks set against the beautiful backdrop of the Penghu archipelago. This group of 90 islands and islets is located in the Taiwan Strait, and every year from late April to late June, the festival ignites the night sky with stunning pyrotechnics every 2 weeks. In addition to the fireworks, the festival also features lively music performances and night markets along the streets.
Fulong International Sand Sculpture Festival
Prepare for a breathtaking sand art experience along the seacoast. Along the stunning three-kilometer golden beach that stretches from Yanliao to Fulong, mounds of intricately carved sand sculptures adorn the shore. These grainy masterpieces are the works of local and international artists, which follow a different theme each year. The delicate details emphasize the artist’s bold design chocices,. This is definitely a festival not to miss as the sculptures return to become one with the beach from which they came once the festival ends.
Hakka Tung Blossom Festival
Immerse in the stunning beauty of the “spring snow” during the months of May and June. The breathtaking scenery of the blooming Tung flowers spreads from neighborhood parks to mountain slopes across the areas of New Taipei, Taoyuan, Hsinchu, Miaoli, Taichung, Nantou, and Hualien. Though the flowers can be seen many places, the festival itself is often held in the Hakka villages, as Tung oil was once a significant source of income for the locals there. To take in the best of the scenery, take a hike on the ancient trading routes to experience the vibrant Hakka culture:sampling the delicious Hakka foods sipping on the famous Hakka Leicha (a beverage mixed of tea and grains), and enjoying the traditional music performances with the “spring snow” (Tung petals) falling all around.
Lukang Dragon Boat Festival
Another must-experience traditional festival is The Dragon Boat Festival, widely celebrated across all of Taiwan on the fifth day of the fifth month of the lunar calendar (which usually falls in June). Our tip for the best place to experience Dragon Boat Festival, however, is Lukang. In Lukang, not only are there fierce dragon boat races, but there is also the “Dragon King Festival” which features stilt walking and drum performances. The festival also boasts a “Dragon King Parade”, a procession of colorful floats accompanied by lively music.
The Taiwan International Hot Air Balloon Festival
Avid aviators from all around the world make their way to Taiwan’s eastern coast in July for the International Hot Air Balloon Festival. Since its inception in 2011, the festival has only continued to grow in popularity. In Luye, Taitung from July to mid-August, the carnival commences, offering a range of activities, with the most popular being hot air balloon rides. Queues begin early in the morning and last into the evening. Passengers are treated to a birds-eye-view of the magnificent East Rift Valley Scenic Area below with a sky dotted full of colorful hot air balloons all around.
Yilan International Children’s Folklore & Folkgame Festival
This one is for the families – the Yilan children’s festival. Under the hot Taiwan summer sun, Taiwan celebrates its rich cultural heritage putting the next generation at the heart of the learning and fun. Featuring a variety of traditional games, activities, and performances, and set beside a water park, children and families can participate in various activities such as traditional Chinese puppetry shows, folk games, handicrafts, music, and dance performances.
Indigenous Harvest Festival
Summer in Taiwan means one very important thing to indigenous farmers: millet harvest season. The Indigenous Harvest Festival is a celebration or just this. During the festival, various indigenous tribes in eastern Taiwan, like the Amis and the Bunun, take turns showcasing their traditional foods, dances, and sfolk songs. Activities like racing, tug-of-war, and archery are also included. Some of the festival is private for the local indigenous communities only, but there are also a few days where they open their doors to the public and invite them to participate as well.
Zongyuan Festival (Ghost Festival)
Welcome to Ghost Month, a highly superstitious time of year in Taiwan, chock-full of religious prayer and ominous taboos. During the seventh lunar month (usually coincides with July), ghost festivals are held throughout Taiwan to pray for safety and good fortune. The most grandiose ones are the Keelung Ghost Festival and Qianggu in Yilan and Pingtung. The former starts with the opening of the altar gate on the first day of ghost month at the Keelung Dajia Mazu Temple, initiating a month-long celebration of the ghostly realm, culminating in the Pudu ritual on the fifteenth day. The latter festivals are held both in Toucheng (Yilan) and Hengchun (Pingtung), respectively, with Toucheng being the largest in scale. On the day to “Close the Ghost Gate” (the 29th day of ghost month) a dozen towering “lonely racks” are erected, covered with butter, and set forward to contestants who must overcome obstacles in groups of five. The end goal is to be the first to reach the top of the racks where a gold medal and wind flag waits to be claimed.
Nanfang’ao Bonito Festival
Nanfang’ao in Yilan is famous for bonito fishing and holds a distinctive Bonito Festival every September to celebrate the fish. Parade teams carry giant paper mache bonito, some up to 7 meters long, and burn them as an offering to pray for a bountiful harvest of fish. Apart from the fish burning, there are also fishing competitions and boat races to spectate (or partake in). Most importantly, though, the festival offers a range of bonito-inspired snacks and dishes – bonito all ways!
Mid-Autumn Festival is a traditional Han festival focused around the full moon and the harvest, and of course, a well-known fable. Celebrated on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month (which usually falls in early September), it is a time to gather with family and friends and enjoy the glow of the full moon above. The customary food is so significant of this holiday that it is often the first sign that Mid-Autumn is approaching. In Taiwan this means the round egg-glazed cakes known as mooncakes and the world’s largest citrus fruit, pomelos. In addition to these two snacks, BBQ parties are also a long-standing Taiwanese Mid-Autumn tradition, and they’ve been known to happen at all hours of the day – from one dawn to the following dawn.
Wang Yeh Boat Burning Festival
The Burning of the Wang Yeh Boats is a spectacular Taoist festival held only once every three years in the south of Taiwan. The best place to head is Donggang. The Wang Yeh Boat Burning Festival dates back to the Song Dynasty in China, and is a ritual celebration of good health and wellbeing. The festival runs for nine straight days, but preparations begin a year in advance in order to construction the centerpiece of the event – a 15-meter-long traditional wood junk boat. The event kicks off with a beachside ceremony, inviting the royal gods back to Earth, followed by a procession in which the boat is pulled around town to absorb the disease and misfortune of the local communities. Finally, the boat is set ablaze at dawn on the last day of the festival, while thousands of spectators watch on.
Kaohsiung Zuoying Wannian Folklore Festival
During mid-October, the temples around Kaohsiung’s Lotus Pond come alive. Among the many celebrations during this time is the Welcoming of the Fire Lion, a lively event where a lion made of bamboo with various types of fireworks attached to its body is ignited. The explosive festival also features a “storming of the fortress,” a reenactment of historical events that occurred during Taiwan’s recent settlement.
Kinmen Tunnel Music Festival
Music as a symbol of peace, that is what the Kinmen Tunnel Music Festival brings to the small island of Kinmen, a place that knew little of such peace between 1949 and 1979. The bombing has long ceased and now the Kinmen Tunnel Music Festival is the most noise the island gets all year. Held in October in the Chishan Tunnel, one of the island’s hundreds of military tunnels , famous local and global musicians perform. The acoustics inside the tunnel are truly one of a kind, creating an eerie harmonization between the instrumental music and the rippling water.
Taiwan Open of Surfing
Every November, surf enthusiasts gather in Taitung for the Gold Coast International Surfing Open, an part of the ASP Global Surfing Tour. Competitors from around the world flock to Taitung’s 176-kilometer coastline, to compete. Among the various surf points in Taiwan, Jinzun is noted as a world-class location for the sport and is the only venue listed in the Asian Surfing Championship and World Surf League. This event is a great opportunity to experience some of Taiwan’s local surf culture and meet some of the incredible athletes who make the island proud.
Taroko Gorge Marathon
The Taroko Gorge Marathon is a race route like none other on the planet. Runners traverse 42-kilometers through the gorge’s steep marble canyons and thick forests.. The course is often ranked as one of the most stunning in the world, so. it’s no surprise that it draws nearly 10,000 runners each year! For the eager runners out there, this is definitely a great way to see one of Taiwan’s most beautiful points of natural interest on foot – the sounds of heavy breathing mixed with the rushing river below is a sensory experience unparalleled.
Though only a small minority of Taiwan’s population is of Christian faith, Christmas remains a popular holiday none the less. Taiwan has its own take on Christmas, giving it a fun mix of Western and Asian traditions. Expect giant Christmas trees, festive concerts and parties, and Christmas-themed gifts and in all the many night markets and shopping districts.
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