The recently-concluded 2023 Kaohsiung Lantern Festival emphasized local characteristics. Lotus Pond in Zuoying served as the main venue, with three other lantern festivals being held in Gangshan, Cishan, and Linyuan. Tourists from both home and abroad relished the dazzling lanterns in Kaohsiung and experienced the traditional Lunar New Year and Lantern Festival holidays.
Lotus Pond's distinctive pavilions and pagodas are well-known scenic attractions among both Taiwanese and international travelers. There are more than 20 temples and shrines around Lotus Pond, among which Dragon and Tiger Pagodas, Spring and Autumn Pavilions, Wuliting, and Confucius Temple are the best known.
Dragon and Tiger Pagodas, Spring and Autumn Pavilions, and the statue of Syuanwu (a Taoist deity) played essential roles in the festival's principal display. The six-minute light and laser show that illuminated these landmarks was the highlight of the Lantern Festival's formal opening on January 26.
After dark, complemented with temple lights and laser beams, Nine-Cornered Bridge and Dragon and Tiger Pagodas exuded a colorful and distinctively oriental ambiance, while Lotus Pond created a bustling festival atmosphere. “The Lantern Festival radiates a uniquely Taiwanese flair,” exclaimed many visitors.
During the festival, visitors had ample opportunities to appreciate the architecture and ornate decoration of the antique temples that surround the lake. During the day, many strolled through the scenic area and offered prayers in the temples. At night, the sparkling lanterns created a different perspective and experience of local religious culture and history.
To celebrate the Year of the Rabbit, Lotus Pond was surrounded by eye-catching light installations and rabbit lanterns. The main display, a giant inflatable Machiko Rabbit floating on the water, became a popular photo spot for people of all ages.
In Gangshan District, the main lantern display was titled, “Reborn ‧ Dance Together.” Its design was inspired by a local specialty, honey. Craftsman Lin Chun assembled a honeycomb-shaped lantern woven using bamboo, and Yang Hai-cian crocheted it with colorful cotton threads, creating geometric figures that symbolized the blossoming of hope. This artistic feast blended seamlessly with the surrounding landscape, making the Gangshan Lantern Festival a refreshing experience for all.
Rabbit-dyed fabric with lighting decorations on Cishan Old Street was the most creative feature of Cishan Lantern Festival. Craftsmen at an art workshop sketched and dyed the contours of rabbits using the colors of local agricultural products including bananas, lychees, and edamame. Kunjhou Temple and Cishan Tianhou Temple were surrounded by dazzling lanterns and LED light installations, while the stairs of Gushan Park were also adorned with cute rabbit lanterns that exuded a childlike and cheerful ambiance.
In Linyuan District, which is located at the southernmost tip of Kaohsiung, visitors were greeted by a ten-meter-long lighting arch for the Year of the Rabbit. Linyuan's coastline is stunning, and travelers strolling through the fishing village are always sure to feel the genuine warmth of the locals.