Every year, on the 15th day of the Lunar New Year, thousands of people will gather at Pingxi for the annual Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival. People write their wishes on these lanterns, which will then carry their prayers to the sky. Luckily, one need not wait for the annual Lantern Festival to release sky lanterns. In fact, releasing sky lanterns is now a very commercialized activity that you can also do it anytime. Shifen and Pingxi are two of the more popular places for this activity.
As I was told, there is no regular opening or closing hours for the shops in Shifen Old Street. Instead they close when there are no more visitors. In our case, when we first arrived at the Shifen train station, we quickly chose a friendly shop owner and told him our itinerary for the day and that we will be back in the evening to release the sky lanterns. Even though we had some unexpected delays and spent a little more time at the Coal Mine Museum (you can read more about it here), the friendly shop owner kept his promise and waited for us. 😉
The colours of the lantern are supposed to have some symbolic meaning, however, we didn’t really bother with it. Instead, we chose the colours we liked and started doodling (or rather writing our wishes). Anyway, if you can’t make up your mind on the colours, there are also multi-coloured ones. The price of each lantern range from NT$100 to NT$300, depending on the size. If you are releasing the lantern after the sky turns dark (like what we did), you can also choose add a firecracker to your lantern. Judging by the number of stores selling sky lanterns, it’s quite obvious that this sky lantern tradition has become a bristling business in Shifen. 😉
Even the rain couldn’t dampen our spirits!
After a long day, we left Shifen at around 8.45pm and I reckoned we were probably the last visitors in Shifen as all the shops were closed and the street was quiet. If not for the shop owner, who informed an eatery to wait for us, we probably would have no dinner.
Shifen may be a little inaccessible but I like this nostalgic small town. Everybody is, like, part of a bigger family. There was no hard selling; when we politely declined them, the shop owners would give us a smile and walk away. When we asked for directions, they also gladly pointed us to the right direction. This is definitely one of the places that is high on my recommendation list.
Useful Information – Sky Lantern
Colours and their meanings:
- Red: Good fortune
- Pink: Romance
- Peach-red: Decisions and opportunities
- Orange: Money
- Yellow: Success in school and/or job
- White: Health
- Light Green: Growth
- Light Blue: Hoping something comes true
- Light Purple: Idealism