Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival (平溪天燈節) - How to go, tips and tricks [Travel in Taiwan 180302: When there is smoke, there is fire] | Travel in Asia

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival (平溪天燈節) - How to go, tips and tricks [Travel in Taiwan 180302: When there is smoke, there is fire]


Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival.  The most dazzling night in Taiwan.  Be there when it happens! As hundreds of sky lanterns carrying people's wishes fly to the heavens, spectators can't stop themselves from taking selfies, pictures, and videos.  Your visit to Taipei won't be complete without your dreams and aspirations written on a paper balloon that will suddenly float in the air. 

Rated as one of the best things to see before you die, the luomujie blog tried its best to cover the event and give the ins and outs of the festivity.  There are certain things that you need to know if you want to join or just watch the event.  I have compiled them in a Question and Answer format.  Read more to find out.

Q:  What is the Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival?

A:  It is the simultaneous release of hundreds of lanterns per 30 minutes in Pingxi District.  Tourists who were able to register can participate in the lantern release.   

Q.  When is the Pingxi Lantern Festival?

A:   The event happens twice a year.  The first one is done two weeks after the Chinese New Year (CNY) and will happen on February 19, 2019, while the second round is held during the Mid-Autumn Festival and will occur on September 13, 2019.  

Q:  Where is the venue of the Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival?

A:  The Chinese New Year edition is held at the Shifen Sky Lantern Square [Google Map] while the Mid-Autumn Festival version is staged at the Pingxi Junior High School [Google Map].

Q:  What is the difference between Pingxi and Shifen?

A:   Pingxi refers to the district of New Taipei which includes the towns of Shifen and Pingxi (of the same name).  Shifen town had been known to be the best place to release a sky lantern along the railway tracks.

Q:  How to register for the sky lantern activity?

A:  There is an on-site registration at the venue.  Visitors can go to Shifen Sky Lantern Square (Chinese New Year edition) or Pingxi Junior High School (Mid-Autumn Festival edition) to register for the activity at 10:00 am.  If you got a slot, then you have to wait at night for the lantern release.  Schedule your itinerary well for the entire Pingxi Branch Line to maximize your trip. 

Q:  Is it free?

A:  Registration is free.  Tickets will be given until nothing is left.

Q:  How to go to the venue?

by train:
1. Taipei Main Station -> Ruifang Station -> Pingxi Station or Shifen Station -> walk to the venue
First train from Ruifang going to Pingxi or Shifen leaves at 5:19 am.  Expect the next trains to arrive every 40 to 60 minutes.  Boarding the shuttle bus from TRA Ruifang Station is a better option.

People lining up for the shuttle bus in front of TRA Ruifang Station

2. Ruifang Station -> ride shuttle bus (roundtrip fare: NTD 30) -> walk to the venue

by MRT
1. Taipei Main Station -> MRT Muzha Station (Brown Line) -> board festival shuttle bus (roundtrip fare: NTD 50) or Bus 795 [Google Map] > Get off at Pingxi Junior High School (平溪國中) stop or Shifenliao Bridge (十分寮橋) stop -> walk to the venue

2. MRT Taipei Zoo Station (Brown Line) -> walk to the gate of Taipei Zoo -> board festival shuttle bus (roundtrip fare: NTD 50) -> Get off at Pingxi Junior High School (平溪國中) stop or Shifenliao Bridge (十分寮橋) stop -> walk to the venue

by tripool taxi (book the car at least one day before the event, 6:00 pm cut-off time)
Visit the tripool taxi web app ( -> Choose pick-up point (ex. Taipei Main Station) -> Select drop-off point (Shifen Old Street or Pingxi Junior High School) -> Reserve your taxi -> Repeat the booking process for the return trip

Price comparisons of a general taxi vs tripool taxi, for two passengers going to Taipei Main Station Exit M3 from Pingxi Station or Shifen Station
Pick-up pointDistancetravel timeGeneral taxi fare (deal offer)Tripool taxi fare

Shifen Station
38 km
46 mins
NTD 1,000
NTD 706
Pingxi Station
33.5 km
43 mins
NTD 1,000
NTD 673

clueless tourists at Shifen Old Street

If you registered, look for the volunteers at the Assembly Area.

Q:  I registered for the group sky lantern release and got a ticket.   Where do I go during the event at my scheduled time?

A:   There is an “Assembly Area” (or Assemble Area) upon entering the premises of the Shifen Scenic Area or Pingxi Junior High School.  Follow the arrows and get in touch with the volunteers so they can assist you.  Do not be late and come to the Assembly Area at least an hour before your scheduled lantern release.   

Q:   What is the show format of the Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival?

A:  It is a group lantern release every 30 minutes starting from 5:30 pm / 6:00 pm and ends at 8:00 pm / 8:30 pm.   There are song and dance numbers during the intervals of the lantern activity.  During this 30-minute grace period, the registered participants enter the “activity area”.  They become the stars of the show as they write their wildest dreams on the fully opened sky lantern.  Thanks to the volunteers and staff of the festival committee! They will open the paper balloons for you.  

When everyone is done writing their wishes, everyone waits for the sound of the starting pistol (You won't hear it actually!) and the participants release the lanterns at the same time, creating an unforgettable scenery that they will never forget in their entire lives.   After the screams and cheers, the participants leave the “activity area” and the next dance or song number happens.  During the intermission, the next batch of people will enter for another round of sky lantern release.

The highlight of the event includes the visit of the New Taipei City mayor, famous personalities like celebrities and social media influencers, and CEOs of the event's major sponsor (ex. Sanrio).  Their visit is accompanied by the release of a giant lantern that also joins the hundreds of sky lamps that are released every 30 minutes.

Q:  I failed to register for the Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival.  What should I do?

A:  There are “sideshows” located along the road leading to the event venue.   These are also group lantern release activity that you can participate but organized by local vendors in Shifen and Pingxi.   Although less prestigious than the main event in Shifen Square or at the junior high school grounds, it is an alternative for those who weren't able to do so.   It can also pacify the hunger of those who have already participated but wanted to see more sky lanterns flying above them.  Haha!

You can also come to Shifen or Pingxi to just watch the hundreds of sky lanterns fly simultaneously.  But beware!  The festival is considered as a major event in Taiwan so expect thousands of tourists flocking to the event area.   Get ready to squeeze your self against the crowd if you want to get a nice view.  The best place to watch the lanterns is the perimeter around the "activity area" that is formed by the retractable belt barriers.  Once a group of lanterns had been released, people usually in front leaves the place giving an opportunity to the person behind to get good photos and videos.  I have observed Taiwanese to become aggressive and territorial when they are in front of this belt barrier.  They would always want to give their children, husband or wife to have the best viewing experience. Just stay calm, they will also leave after one hour.  Haha!

Q:  After the event had ended, is it advisable to ride the trains going to Ruifang Station?

A:  It is better to board the shuttle buses going back to Taipei Zoo/MRT Muzha or TRA Ruifang Station.  The New Taipei City government is aware of the large crowd that visits the Shifen Scenic Area during the festival so they have a provided several fleets of buses to take tourists back to downtown Taipei.

Q:  Are there any concerns that we need to know about the Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival?

A:  Like any activity that involves fire, accidents may happen.  A sky lantern can be blown away by wind and hit spectators, houses or even the stage.  I have seen sky lanterns struck the giant lights that are placed on a top of scaffolding (Those studio lights that we see in concerts).  It burned as everyone stared at the fire. Until a man pushed the burning lantern.  It then fell to the ground!  Luckily, no one was standing below and the blaze turned all the paper lantern into ashes.  As if nothing happened, everyone looked at the stage and watched the show again.  Haha!

Firemen with their firetrucks and fire extinguishers are on standby in case something happened out of control.   So do not worry too much.   Enjoy the Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival but stay vigilant. When you join the festivity,  always remember the saying:  When there is smoke, there is fire. 


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