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April 29, 2017

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Lantern Festival first step on road to economic recovery

The Lantern Festival (元宵節) kicked off on Friday for the pleasure of local and foreign camera-wielding tourists all across the country. The most brightly lit event of the year is poised to dazzle millions of visitors again with its magnificent display of lanterns that range from cute handheld paper animals from the Chinese zodiac dangling from wooden sticks for children to humongous LED-lit structures displayed in outdoor venues.

According to the Tourism Bureau (觀光局) under the Ministry of Transportation and Communications (交通部), this year's event could successfully attract more than 10 million visitors, including more than 30,000 foreigners, carrying hopes that the Year of the Horse will be a boost for Taiwan's economy, and for the country's tourism sector in particular. Without a doubt, the annual celebrations not only carry on the folk tradition of lighting lanterns while integrating notions of environmental awareness and various high-tech innovations that are key to attracting international visitors.

At the same time, the popular celebrations, which have been listed as one of the "Fantastic Festivals of the World" by the Discovery Channel, thoroughly demonstrate the strength of Taiwanese culture, the creative spirit of local people as well as the event's true potential to create massive economic benefits for cities and counties across the country.

This constantly striving spirit of the Taiwanese people is symbolized by this year's main lantern, "The Grand and Radiant Stallion," which features a horse striding toward the highest peak in Taiwan, Yushan. For those who are not familiar with the Chinese culture, this instalment of the popular festival heralds the Chinese Year of the Horse, the 7th animal in the full 12-year annual zodiac cycle.

Since 1990, the official Taiwan Lantern Festival (臺灣燈會) has been staged in cities and counties across the island, highlighting the nation's local culture and tourism resources through various lantern-making activities and live performances.

For its 25th anniversary, the Taiwan Lantern Festival's centerpiece display, a towering 23-meter-tall structure that weighs 30 tons, is displayed in Nantou County's (南投縣) Chung Hsing New Village (中興新村) in Central Taiwan for the pleasure of tourists of all nationalities. But what does the event mean to the people?

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