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Taipei Lantern Festival draws spectators

As temperatures rose and the rain ceased, visitors flocked to the Taipei Lantern Festival as the event drew to an end yesterday.

Starting at 7 p.m. on the final night of the festival, which ran from Feb. 7-16, pop singers took the stage until the closing ceremony at 9 p.m. last night. Fans of the singers gathered at Taipei Expo Park well in advance.

While last year's lantern festival attracted 8 million visitors, the number was likely to see a significant drop this year, as 7 of the 10 exhibition days were rained out, Taipei City Government Department of Cultural Affairs Commissioner Huang Lu Ching-ju (黃呂錦茹) said. Due to budget restraints, the government is unable to extend the exhibition, Huang said, adding that the festival will come to the public again in 2015, the Year of the Goat.

The 210 lanterns showcased at the festival will be reserved for other exhibition purposes, such as the lantern panda, which may find a new home at the Taipei Zoo. Others could be sent to local districts for street exhibition or showcased in international events, displaying Taiwan's unique artifacts on the global stage, Huang said.

Temperatures rose across Taiwan yesterday, allowing more people to leave their home and engage in outdoor activities. With the rain over, yesterday saw the highest number of visitors to the Taipei Lantern Festival, with each of the 13 exhibition zones packed with visitor traffic.

In addition, Yuanshan MRT Station, the stop closest to the lantern festival, saw a surge of commuters yesterday. According to the event sponsor, over 100,000 visitors passed through the station yesterday alone. With the high number of commuters, MRT officials had to step in to regulate visitor traffic. Some commuters had to wait for up to 10 minutes before getting on the elevator.

In addition to the “Flying Horse Theater” at the main lantern area, Taipei Expo Park showcased a number of beautiful lanterns in separate zones, including the “Well-wishes Lantern Zone,” “Historical Style Lantern Zone,” “Traditional Storytelling Lantern Zone,” “Arts and Formation Lantern Zone,” “Time Corridor Lantern Zone,” “Fantasy Kingdom Lantern Zone,” “Roaming Stallions Lantern Area,” “Nostalgic Lantern Zone,” “Landscape Lantern Zone,” “International Lantern Area” and “Tunnel of Lights.”

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