If you've ever seen the movie Tangled, you know what a sky lantern is.
Well, I can tell you from experience that the magic of sky lanterns isn't just something out of a fairy tale. Every year, the village of Pingxi marks the Chinese New Year with a several week long Sky Lantern (天燈) Festival and fills the sky with so many beautiful lanterns it would make Mandy Moore jealous.
This year's Chinese New Year festivities started on the Lunar New Year, January 23. It is estimated that every year between 100,000 and 200,000 lanterns are released in the cute little hamlet of Pingxi over the course of the festival. However, the biggest day of festivities falls on the last day of the Chinese New Year, which this year was February 6th. On the final day of the festival, the town organizes a big concert and a mass release of 1,000 lanterns at once (it's amazing, see above video).
|I wonder what the measure word is for a group of lanterns? Herd, plethora, murder?|
|Every kind of dumpling imaginable!|
|This guy was selling brown sugar lollipops, spicy snails, and corn on a stick all at one very enterprising stand|
|Toy lanterns and night light lanterns for sale next to a stack of ready to launch DIY lanterns|
This lantern reads: "Mega Millions + Super Lotto + (something I can't make out in Chinese) = Billionaire!"
|This little guy falls firmly into the cute category|
|One of the more impressively painted dragons (yeah, I was a little jealous of their lantern painting skills)|
Cherrica, Christine, and I painted our own lantern with my host parents, Jane and Jason.
|Jane's side, she wished for health, luck, and peace in the new year.|
|Cherrica and I signing our side, complete with dino-dragon holding explosives. It says "Happy year of the dragon!"|
|Christine drew a crowd that watched eagerly to find out if a foreigner can really write in Chinese (spoiler: she can)|
|Getting ready to launch our wishes!|
|There it goes!|
Please note that, while the following pictures and the video at the beginning of this blog are pretty, they just can't do the real thing justice. My advice: If you're ever in Taiwan in early February, you just have to go see the lantern festival for yourself. It's breathtaking!
|Setting off the first wave of lanterns|
|This is what 1,000 lanterns looks like!|
|Getting ready to set off our (rapidly decorated) lantern|
|I feel like some sort of "Goodnight Moon" reference would be appropriate here?|