Disputed Theme Lantern May Still Bring Crowds To The Taipei Lantern Festival

Disputed Theme Lantern May Still Bring Crowds To The Taipei Lantern Festival
Photo Credit: 臺北燈節

What you need to know

The Taipei City government holds an event to celebrate the Lantern Festival every year. Due to the controversial theme lantern this year, the festival seems to be more discussed than ever.

Compiled by Yuan-ling Liang

With the approaching of Lantern Festival, Taipei revealed the image of Taipei’s theme lantern in Yuan-shan Taipei Expo Park on January 27. The “Fu-lu Monkey” lantern has brought about controversies and criticisms, but has also drawn much attention for people curious to pay a visit.

The name ”Fu-lu Monkey” bears the meaning of luck and great fortune. The lantern shows a smiling monkey face on a shape of a gourd. Its height is record-breaking, measuring about 14.2 meters. On February 20, the ”Fu-lu Monkey” will be lit up to highlight its lines and structure, and also to mark the celebration of the annual Lantern Festival.


On the 15th day of the first lunar month each year, the Lantern Festival marks the grand finale of the Lunar New Year season. People light up lanterns and firecrackers to celebrate. They also enjoy eating tang-yuan (Chinese rice balls) and quiz each other with riddles.

Cities in Taiwan also hold large festive activities to celebrate the occasion every year. The event usually consists of exhibitions displaying a bunch of decorative lanterns, stalls selling different hand-carried lanterns, musical performances and a ritual of lighting up a theme lantern that illustrates each year’s zodiac animal.

However, this year, people seem to disagree with the lantern designer’s aesthetic conception. After viewing the designer’s disclosure video, netizens criticize the lantern to be “very ugly,” “lacking aesthetic,” “looks like a peanut,” “ridiculous” and so on. Some netizens have even drawn comics to make fun of it.

The designer, Lin Shu-min, is a graduate from the New York Institute of Technology and holds a bachelor’s and a master’s degree in Art. Known for 3D laser imaging art and recording installation artworks, Lin has been awarded multiple prizes in the field.

He says to UDN News, “The monkey appears colorful under daylight, but may look different with a light scribe at night.” He hopes that people can pay a visit and take a real look at the monkey. “I chose to combine a monkey with a gourd because together they represent ‘multiplying many descendants’ in Chinese traditional arts. Moving from an aging society to an aged society, what Taiwan needs now is more encouragement and blessings in having children.”

Criticisms regarding the theme lantern have not been as harsh as this year in the past three years. But according to information from the Taipei City Government, Lin has been the main lantern designer since 2013. His works in the past include the “Golden Cheerful Ram” in 2015, the flying horse “Flying A-jun” in 2014, and the “HaHa Snake” in 2013.

“Golden Cheerful Ram” in 2015. Photo Credit: othree @Flickr CC BY 2.0

“Golden Cheerful Ram” in 2015. Photo Credit: othree @Flickr CC BY 2.0

Flying horse “Flying A-jun” in 2014. Photo Credit: 迷惘的人生 @Flickr CC BY-ND 2.0

Flying horse “Flying A-jun” in 2014. Photo Credit: 迷惘的人生 @Flickr CC BY-ND 2.0

Huge crowds nevertheless expected to be brought by the theme lantern

Though being controversial and widely discussed, the theme lantern this year has undeniably drawn much attention from the public, which may possibly bring crowds to enjoy the display.

The exhibition consists of 12 separate areas, including the most popular Flagship Lantern area and Blessing Lantern area. Despite a variety of decorative and designed lanterns, the activity also gives a stage for street performers during the festival.

The “Stage of Lantern Riddles" has been one of the attractions in the Taipei Lantern Festival every year. Directors and supervisors of Taiwan Cheng Huang Temple will host various shows every night during the festival and riddles will be prepared for citizens to guess.

A special district lantern area vote has also been organized for citizens to choose their favorite lantern area this year. Taipei mayor Ko Wen-je will make an appearance in the winning area for a ceremony after the i-voting.

The festival will take place at the Taipei Expo Park, near the Yuan-shan MRT station. Traffic control will be implemented to avoid chaos during the festival, so visitors should notice changes in the mass transportation and driving routes when going to enjoy the festivities.

See here for more info: http://www.2016taipeilanternfestival.com/en/traffic03.html

Edited by Olivia Yang

The News Lens
China Times
Taipei Lantern Festival