It was a showcase of creativity, technology and cultural heritage at the recent Taiwan Lantern Festival 2018 in Chiayi County, Taiwan.

The annual festival was held from Feb 16 to March 11 this year.

I was there on a media trip organised by the Taiwan Tourism Bureau Kuala Lumpur Office, the Malaysia Lantern Art Association and the Selangor & Kuala Lumpur Photographic Society.

I’ve received invitations from the organisers previously but could never make it – I am glad I was finally able to say yes this time around.

We were lucky to have an exclusive preview of the Lantern Festival one day before its official launch. With our VIP passes, we also had access to the platform so that we could get a clearer view of the whole thing.

It was my first time seeing such a grand display of lanterns in various shapes, sizes and designs; there were lanterns of cartoons, buildings, sceneries and deities.

I was thoroughly impressed with the creativity, time and effort that was put into creating the lanterns. One night was definitely not enough to view all of them!

As 2018 is the Year of the Dog, there were several designs depicting man’s best friend, including the main lantern – an indigenous child and his loyal dog.

The lantern, named Loyal Auspiciousness, has more than 20,000 sets of lighting circuit systems connected to it.

The venue was sectioned off into various zones including the Traditional Lantern, Hanging Art Lantern, Sunrise Lantern, Lanterns of Joy and City of Love, a must-visit zone for couples.

The International & Friendship City Lantern zone featured creations from South Korea, Singapore, India and Japan’s Sapporo, Mie Prefecture, Nagoya and Kagawa Prefecture.

Participants from temples created lanterns depicting the Goddess of Mercy, the Goddess of the Sea Mazu, the historical and deified general Guan Yu (also known as Guan Gong) and the Laughing Buddha.

There were also concerts and performances, adding to the carnival-like atmosphere.

Locals as well as international tourists swarmed the place once it was opened to the public. Despite the crowd, I was impressed with the cleanliness of the toilets.

For those planning to visit Taiwan during the Yuan Xiao Jie season next year, do check out this spectacular festival.