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Time for Celebration: Taiwan celebrates Ang Lee success

18th April 2013 Print

Ang Lee’s recent Best Director Oscar win for the film Life of Pi, has brought global attention to the beautiful and captivating island of Taiwan where the world famous director was born. A large portion of the ocean scenes for the award winning movie were filmed in the country, which is located just off the southeastern coast of mainland Asia.

The Taiwanese have celebrated Ang Lee’s success with a number of high profile gestures including signposting animal enclosures at Taipei Zoo to highlight that the majority of animals used in the film were from the zoo.

To carry on the theme of celebration, the Taiwan Tourism Bureau has introduced a comprehensive Time for Celebration calendar of special events taking place around the island, including Taiwan’s outlying islands. The calendar is available in Taiwan’s visitors’ centres free of charge or can be downloaded as an application for smart phone users, enabling them to access information about the destination’s many attractions and services.

The highlight festivals taking place in Taiwan include:

Dragon Boat Festival, 6 June 2013 – Lukang Township, Changhua County

The Dragon Boat Festival began as an occasion to drive off evil spirits and to find peace in life. It originates from an event which purportedly took place in ancient years when national poet, Qu Yan, decided to drown himself in the Miluo River to protest against the cruel government. People in the surrounding villages tried to rescue him by rowing down the river by boat and this search became the basis for the Dragon Boat Race.

Today, the Dragon Boat Races are a key event with huge crowds gathering to watch the excitement. Teams compete to the sound of beating drums and rowers win by grabbing the flag at the end of the course. Many traditional customs accompany the festivities such as the drinking of Hsiung Huang wine and children are given fragrant sachets, both of which are thought to ward off evil spirits. A culinary highlight of the festival is eating the traditional dish Zongzi which is glutinous rice dumplings wrapped in bamboo leaves. It is said that the origins of this dish trace back to the story of Qu Yan when the local people who admired him dropped sticky rice triangles into the river for the fish to eat.

Ghost Festival, 9 September 2013 - Keelung

Traditionally, it is believed that ghosts haunt the island of Taiwan for the entire seventh lunar month from dawn on the first day of the month, when the gates of the netherworld open, ending on the 29th day of the month, when the gates close. The Ghost Festival combines the Buddhist Ullambana Festival and the Taoist Ghost Festival, both of which honour dead spirits.

Highlights of the event include folk-art performances, the opening of the gates of hell and the release of burning water lanterns. During the festival, families make offerings to their ancestors and ghosts of the underworld.

Taiwan Cycling Festival, 11 November 2013 – Yilan County, Hualien County and Taitung County

Since it debuted in 2010, the Taiwan Cycling Festival has continued to bring together world-renowned cycling teams for a weekend of top-class international racing as they compete for the Taiwan Cup.

Taking place in the Hualien and Taitung counties in scenic eastern Taiwan, the festival is built around two main events, the Formosa 900 and the Taiwan KOM Challenge with a number of smaller cycling events taking place over the course of the week.

Amateur enthusiasts attending the festival are encouraged to experience Taiwan’s touring itineraries and discover the variety of cycling trails and routes whilst enjoying the island’s culture, cuisine and natural wonders.

The Taiwan Tourism campaign aims to raise awareness of the country’s rich cultural heritage by inviting its international visitors to take part in its many festivals and events. This information is presented alongside a comprehensive visitor’s guide to the best restaurants, accommodation and attractions to visit while in Taiwan.

For further information on Taiwan, visit