TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The highly-anticipated fireworks display in front of Taipei 101 once again lit up the New Year's celebrations in Taipei — but turnout proved a damp squib, with attendances down on last year.
This year, the city's public works department set up 18 alternative spots and four riverside parks for viewing the spectacle. These included numerous vistas located on the trails of Xinyi District's Elephant Mountain and Tiger Mountain, as well as along Wenshan District's Flying Dragon trail.
According to the Taipei Rapid Transit Corporation (TRTC), ridership on the city's subway from 6 a.m. Dec. 31 to 6 a.m. Jan. 1 was around 2.64 million, down roughly 390,000 in comparison to the same period last year.
The TRTC attributed the drop to the fact that the New Year's Eve fell on a weekend this year.
Some, however, have expressed concern that countdown shows in Taiwan were losing their spark, as big-name stars opted to perform at New Year's events in mainland China.
Taipei City Mayor Ko Wen-je downplayed the drop in the ridership numbers, saying that older people had "opted for the hills" while the younger generation stayed behind to watch the fireworks in the city center.
Ko said that the event would continue to be held in the future, saying the celebrations gave the city international exposure.
Stars Opt to Grace the 'Other Side'
While revelers in Taiwan were entertained by such as heavy-hitters as Wu Bai (伍佰), A-Lin, Jam Hsiao (蕭敬騰), Amber An (安心亞) and Cheer Chen (陳綺貞), the absence of several local favorites may have dampened the popularity of this year's event.
Diva Jolin Tsai (蔡依林), JJ Lin (林俊傑), Yoga Lin (林宥嘉) and Wilber Pan (潘瑋柏) and supermodel Lin Chi-ling (林志玲), among others, appeared at an event in Macau hosted by the mainland Chinese Jiangsu Television.
Show Luo (羅志祥) also made waves for performing as his female alter ego at a show in Beijing. Singer A-mei (張惠妹), along with Taiwan heartthrob Wang Leehom (王力宏) chose instead to perform at an event in Zhejiang, China.
Also absent was Jeannie Hsieh (謝金燕) who, having been one of the most popular New Year's Eve performers in Taiwan in recent years, is currently on a break from performing.
To be continued with www.chinapost.com.tw