Illuminating Tradition and Technology: Tainan’s Lantern Festival 2024

Glorious Tainan. The Dragon Comes to Taiwan is the main lantern on display during the 2024 Taiwan Lantern Festival. (Taiwan Tourism Administration)
Glorious Tainan. The Dragon Comes to Taiwan is the main lantern on display during the 2024 Taiwan Lantern Festival. (Taiwan Tourism Administration)

THE 2024 Taiwan Lantern Festival harmoniously blends age-old tradition with cutting-edge technology, leaving a mesmerizing experience for local and international visitors.

Tradition plays a key role in the recent 2024 Taiwan Lantern Festival, which was hosted by Tainan City, the former capital of Taiwan. Technology, on the other hand, illuminates the historic city with brilliant and vibrant color lights from over 300 lanterns on display at the Anping Display Zone.

Returning to Tainan after a 16-year hiatus, the 35th edition of the Taiwan Lantern Festival coincides with the city’s 400th anniversary. The hosting of the festival rotates among Taiwan's 22 cities and 14 counties each year, showcasing the country's cultural diversity and highlighting various aspects of the country's traditions.

Each lantern carries profound symbolism, embodying blessings, wishes, and cultural stories. Among the lanterns on display is the "Goddess Mazu" Lantern, Taiwan's revered female sea deity. The other lanterns depict historical figures, cultural icons, and pivotal moments from Tainan's rich past. The lanterns are also vessels of culture, history, and celebration.

But the highlight of the festival was the 22-meter-tall dragon lantern, "The Dragon Visits Taiwan." It is the centerpiece of the festival, which was held in the Anping District.

According to the Tourism Administration, the dragon, designed by renowned artist Peng Li-chen was inspired by the flying dragons on the pillars of Tainan's Grand Matsu Temple.

In Chinese culture, the dragon holds deep symbolism and is regarded as a powerful and benevolent creature. In the imperial dynasties, emperors used the dragon as a symbol of their imperial power and authority.

The festival seamlessly integrates traditional lantern art with modern technology. Tourism Administration Director-General Chou Yung-hui said solar energy was used to light up the dragon to reduce electricity consumption.

Modern lanterns incorporate energy-efficient LED lights. These vibrant, programmable lights enhance the visual impact, making the lanterns come alive after sunset.

Tainan is home to Taiwan's largest land-based solar power plant, the Salt Field Solar Field, which is expected to generate 207 million kwh of green energy every year. It can power the annual needs of more than 55,000 households, reducing 100,000 tons of carbon emissions.

The festival harmonizes old tradition by respecting ancient customs and new technology by embracing innovation.

It skillfully intertwines ancient wisdom with contemporary marvels. 

Meanwhile, in nearby Kaoshiung, the 2024 Kaohsiung Wonderland, a yellow rubber duck created by Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman, took center stage as it bobbed along Love River Bay.

The Kaohsiung Tourism Bureau said the yellow symbolized warm sunlight shining through in winter. (MVG)


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