The recent historic launch of the first non-stop China Airlines flights from Taiwan to the United Kingdom allows the island to become a new stopover for UK travellers, with connecting flights to destinations such as Bali and Sydney. Taiwan has much to offer the keen traveller with traditional cultures still holding strong, wonderful scenery and some amazing sights, as well as a packed events calendar that ensures every visitor will experience a unique aspect of the country, however long they stay.
The Taipei Film Festival (26th June to the 15th July): Celebrating its 12th year in 2010, the festival screens some 200 films from 30 countries worldwide making this an increasingly popular event attracting over 200,000 participants.
Moon Festival (1st September): The festival is a national holiday in Taiwan, celebrating the celestial light of the moon which occurs during the 8th month. It is tradition that bakeries make ‘moon cakes’ for the celebration and at nightfall there are fireworks shows across the country.
The Double Ninth Day (9th of September): Is one of the oldest traditions in Taiwan, dating back to the Han Dynasty. It celebrates the ninth day of the ninth lunar month as the number ‘nine’ belongs to the positive principle ‘yang’. It is a national holiday in Taiwan and is celebrated all over the Island with participants climbing a mountain carrying a spray of dog wood and drinking chrysanthemum wine and cake, which legend has it will keep them safe from misfortune.
Double 10th Day National Day (10th October): This festival takes place to celebrate the 1911 Wuch’ang Uprising which led to the formation of The Republic of China (Taiwan) in 1912. On the day there is the highly anticipated Presidential Address to the public, followed by the main event The National Day Parade where the colours of the national flag line the streets. In the evening the National Day Evening Ceremony sees the skies of every major city lit up with fireworks displays.
Aboriginal Cherry Blossom Festival (1st February to the 30th March): Designed to celebrate the beauty of the mountain cherry blossom trees and those in the Formosan Aboriginal Culture Village, the events includes performances by dancers, poets, musicians and artists symbolising the culture and changes in the village. The highlight is the ‘Evening Cherry Blossom Activity’ throughout February, where lights are hung from each of the cherry trees producing a blanket of pinkish light. This festival has taken place since 2001 and is rapidly becoming one of Taiwan’s most popular cultural events due to its romantic appeal.
The Taipei Lantern Festival (28th February to the 15th March): This traditional festival occurs on the 15th day of the 1st Lunar month and lasts for six days. Throughout, tens of thousands of lanterns are released into the air ranging from traditional lanterns to the centre piece, resembling this year’s Chinese Zodiac sign. During the festival other sub festivities take place such as the Kaohsiung Lantern Festival situated by the Love River. The festival also hosts musical performances which occur in accordance with the lanterns being lit and taking off.
Alongside these intriguing festivals Taiwan, also know as ‘Beautiful Island’, has an abundance of things to do for the adventurous traveller with luscious green mountains to be conquered and magnificent coastal landscapes as well the bustle of city life in Taipei.
The thrice-weekly China Airlines service to Taiwan departs Heathrow on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday, all offering onward connections to Bali and Sydney.