Celebrating The Lunar New Year In Taiwan: A Guide

When the rest of the world is recovering from the holiday season at the start of 2020, Taiwan is only just gearing up for its biggest celebration of the year: the Lunar New Year, also commonly known as the Chinese New Year or Spring Festival. 

For locals, the Lunar New Year is an opportunity to take nearly an entire week off work to welcome the dawn of a new year with family and friends. For travelers who are wondering what to do in Taiwan, a trip to the island during this holiday is a great way to experience something new and unique.



When Is Chinese New Year 2020?

In 2020, Chinese New Year’s Eve will be on Friday, January 24, and Chinese New Year’s Day will be on Saturday, January 25. The next four days, from January 26 to 29, are national holidays in Taiwan as well, while the festivities extend well into February 8. 

Taiwan’s Lunar New Year is quite different from the New Year celebrations in other parts of the world. Starting off quite subdued, the holiday sees most of the locals visiting and spending time with their families in the provinces. A lot of local businesses, including restaurants, tend to be closed on the eve and day of Chinese New Year.

Of course, many locals may be choosing to spend time with families instead of partying from dusk ‘till dawn, but that doesn’t mean that Taiwan becomes a ghost town during the Chinese New Year—far from it! With the celebrations lasting two weeks, you’ll get plenty of opportunities for fun, revelry, and sightseeing during Chinese New Year 2020.



Spend Some Money At Dihua Street 

via Christopher Chan on Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) 

One of the major traditions of the Lunar New Year is giving away red envelopes with money to share blessings and bestow good fortune and happiness to the recipients. Most locals give away a lot of money during the holidays—but also receive quite a bit themselves!

As a result, the Lunar New Year has become the peak shopping season in Taiwan. Shops, department stores, and markets offer their biggest discounts during the holidays in hopes of enticing people to spend the red envelope money they’ve already collected.

Visit the historic Dihua Street, which comes alive with festive red décor, endless rows of stalls, and thousands of visitors. Travelers who drop by the Dihua Lunar New Year Market can browse an assortment of food, aromatic herbs, and sweet treats. Navigate the stalls for clothing, incense, and Chinese medicine, as well as a wide range of Lunar New Year goods, like red envelopes, fireworks, and red décor.



Visit Top Tourist Attractions

via YELLOW Mao. 黃毛, Photographer on Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

While many local businesses shut down for the Lunar New Year’s Eve and Lunar New Year’s Day, most tourist attractions in Taipei and other major cities are open and thriving during the holidays. A lot of Taiwanese families take advantage of the holiday to go on short vacations, so expect a good mix of locals and tourists while exploring the best tourist spots in the island.

Temples are particularly busy with worshippers visiting religious sites to light incense and pray for good fortune. Some of the most popular temples in Taipei during the Chinese New Year include Longshan Temple, Ciyou Temple, and Xingtian Temple.



2020 Taiwan Lantern Festival in Taichung (February 8-23, 2020) 

via Taiwan Tourism Bureau

Celebrated all over Taiwan, the Lantern Festival marks the fifteenth and final day of traditional Chinese New Year celebrations, which falls on February 8, 2020. One of the biggest celebrations in the island is the Taiwan Lantern Festival, a two-week event that not only welcomes the new year, but also honors local traditions and folklore with parades, performances, and lantern displays. 

In 2020, the Taiwan Lantern Festival will be in Taichung City with the main exhibit showing off a magical forest of lanterns that highlights the city’s natural landscape.



Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival (February 8, 2020) 

via 阿奇 on Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

In the Pingxi District in New Taipei City, there’s an age-old tradition of releasing glowing lanterns into the sky. Join locals and travelers at the Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival, one of the most famous festivals in the world, and be mesmerized at glowing lanterns floating gently up the skies.

Purchase your own lantern, write your wishes on it, and cast it into the air with hundreds of other sky lanterns. Sky lanterns are released en masse at the Lantern Festival every half an hour or so after sunset.

In 2020, the Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival will be held at Shifen in Pingxi District, New Taipei City. Note that it’s a different town from the town of Pingxi, which hosts the festival in alternate years.



Yanshui Beehive Fireworks Festival (February 7-8, 2020)

via Taiwan Tourism Bureau

Adrenaline junkies can head to southern Taiwan for the thrilling Yanshui Beehive Fireworks Festival. In this event, fireworks are launched and aimed at the crowds, not the sky! It’s dubbed as one of the most dangerous festivals in the world, so remember to wear helmets and thick, protective clothing if you’re planning to attend.

Yanshui Beehive Fireworks Festival is held in Yanshui, Tainan City, starting a day before the Lantern Festival and raging on until the following morning. 

Other significant festivals in Taiwan during the Lunar New Year season include the Bombing of Master Han Dan in Taitung, Kaohsiung Lantern Festival along Kaohsiung’s “Love River,” and Taipei Lantern Festival.



If you’re in Taiwan on the eve of December 1, 2019, make sure you get the best view of the fireworks extravaganza with a ticket to Taipei 101’s sky-high observatory and New Year’s Eve party



*Featured image by tookapic on Pixabay