2011 Kaohsiung Lantern Festival / 2011高雄燈會藝術節
2011 Kaohsiung Lantern Festival
◎English Written by Lin Da-wei
◎Photos by Chang Jhong-yi, Pao Chung-hui
Lantern Festival marks the end of Chinese New Year and is celebrated throughout Taiwan. Each year, large festivals are hosted in three cities, including Kaohsiung Lantern Festival, Taiwan Lantern Festival (hosted by a different city every year) and Taipei Lantern Festival. Each city's festival has its own individuality, characteristics and charm. Kaohsiung's Lantern Festival began in 2001 and is famous for its romantic atmosphere along the Love River, outdoor displays and celebrations steeped in light and color. It is reputedly the city's most colorful and important festival. People come from all over Taiwan to see the lanterns and various cultural shows presented by Kaohsiung's sister cities in the U.S., Japan, and Korea.
This year's Lantern Festival theme was "A Century of Happiness: The Rabbit Leaps to Prosperity". This was selected to reflect Kaohsiung's new era with a city and county merge. Mayor Chen Chu feels the merge was certainly a significant historical event and has witnessed an increased sense of pride and belonging amongst the people. She is proud to be leading this new super city through economic transformation and development, bringing great prosperity to the region.
This year's lantern festival opened with a phenomenal firework show, which included fireworks in the shape of rabbits and a 500 meters firework wreath that lined the full length of the port. The explosion of color and shapes were highlighted by a dynamic dancing water show. The audience was truly impressed by the magnificent spectacle. From February 23 to 28, a special firework show called Glorious Blossom was also presented.
The seventeen day festival hosted lantern displays from February 12 to 28 and was organized into various themes, including outdoor markets and love Pier market. There were also several performances each day, such as the aerial-acrobatics over water and a carnival parade. Another popular highlight was the free rabbit, mini-hand lantern that could also be used as a headlight, with a distribution of sixty-thousand.
The centerpiece lantern featured two rabbits dressed to resemble folklore characters, one designed to look like Third Prince and the other clad in a period military uniform that usually appears in parades called Song Jiang Battle Array. These characters were named Prince Kao and General Hsiung. Standing 15 meters high and 12.4 meters wide, it was constructed entirely from environmentally friendly materials and lit up the banks of Love River every night. Three kilometers of the Love River were also lit up on both sides with multi-colored LED lights. This glittering masterpiece was symbolic of Kaohsiung's colorful hospitality and welcoming spirit.
This year's lantern festival was the biggest to date. Exhibitions could be enjoyed at Glory Pier, Love Pier and both sides of the Love River. Gangshan Riverside Park also hosted a lantern venue for the first time. This was also the first year a lantern installation was displayed at the art gallery and featured lanterns made by artisans from ten countries. The 2011 Kaohsiung Lantern Festival was surely an unforgettable experience for the young and old alike.