Ping Xi festival is actually held in Shifen because of its Ideal location. As it’s within the mountains, this place is quiet, and the back of the mountains is ironically the ideal place to “dump” the sky lanterns (when it falls)
Upon chatting up with a local I actually realized that the government actually have been trying to reduce the pollution by rewarding people with 10TWD per lantern that they picked up.
Being an introvert I was contemplating if I should join the Couchsurfing meet. As I don’t do well with people and have not slept for the past 24 hours, I was not in a good shape to socialize. However, I decided to take a leap of faith and just push myself out of my comfort zone anyway.
It was the best thing I ever did. (so far)
I decided to document down how Ping Xi festival usually work as there is not much information available online when I was trying to find. PIng Xi festival takes place further down in Shifen Square, where the plaza would be prepared with a huge stage accompanied by the big ground space, barricades to facilitate the mass releasing of the Sky Lanterns.
However, you have to be there early to “claim” a ticket. And usually, a lantern would usually accommodate up to around 4 people. On this fateful day, there is also a shuttle bus provided from the Taipei Zoo station to bring everyone to Shifen. This really made things really convenient for everyone else.
This event is made possible by the huge manpower of staff that is stationed to facilitate each and every stop. From the ticketing, directing of the shuttle bus and even to the releasing of the sky lantern.
Despite the hour-long queue, this is definitely worth every minute as it is not the same as releasing alongside the train tracks at Shifen square. This is 100% less commercialized, there are no colors to “offer” different buffs and it’s all for the festive goodwill.
Thinking back, I’m really glad I take that plunge and just went forward to try making new friends anyway. Everyone is really friendly and most of the time it’s just me and my insecurities.
I met up with the afternoon group from Couchsurfing, where we hang out, connect and eventually took the shuttle bus over to Shifen. We are even such a big group that we were offered a bus itself for this event!
We started walking along Shifen, where we explored the streets, walked on train tracks, the smell of various food soaked the beautiful streets of Shifen as we wade through slowly with the crowd. It’s a national event after all. We are then given some free time and to "report' at the Shifen Sky Lantern Square by 6.15 as that would be the time where we have to queue up to release the lanterns. We even went for a hike towards the waterfall before coming back for the event itself.
I couldn’t thank David enough for putting everything together, Paul for being such an entertaining and amazing sport, and also the day volunteers who head over really early to help queue and secure the tickets just so everyone is able to release the sky lantern.
The festival is really one of a kind, as we are sorted in “waves” to release the sky lantern, with a huge stage at the middle overseeing the whole event while the live band brings the night to life alongside with the sky lanterns.
Here’s to more adventures that’s to come and it is a pretty good start so far!
Name: Ping Xi Festival
Date: 15th Day of Lunar New Year
Address: Shifen Sky Lantern Square
新北市平溪區十分街 (Shifen St, Pingsi District, New Taipei City)
New Taipei City, 226