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Millions Expected at Various Lantern Festival Celebrations
The official theme lantern of the 2010 Taiwan Lantern Fair basks under the bright sun in Chiayi City yesterday. The metalic-looking set of an adult tiger with two golden cubs becomes a sculpture of colored lights (inset) at night.

TAIPEI: Fascinating installations and special events celebrating the Lantern Festival, which falls on February 28 this year, will attract millions of visitors from home and abroad and boost business in the tourism sector, the Tourism Bureau said Monday.

Since 1990, the Tourism Bureau has pulled together the resources of local governments and the private sector to actively promote one of Taiwan's most celebrated and colorful traditional festivals.

It has staged the official Taiwan Lantern Festival celebration in a different city every year, and this year's host, Chiayi City in central Taiwan, is expecting the week-long festivities to draw 420,000 visitors and pump NT$1.68 billion into the local economy.

In Taipei, festivities at the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall plaza will open on February 26 and last until March 7, with student groups performing folk dances in the afternoons and professional dance troupes, bands and singers performing in the evenings.

Kaohsiung City opened its celebration of the Tiger Lamp Festival along the Love River on February 20. The festivities will last until March 7 and present shows featuring performing artists from the United States, Japan and South Korea in addition to local music, dance and drama groups.

While lantern exhibitions around the island will highlight the traditional festival - marking the 15th day of the first moon in the lunar calendar - many practices related to folk beliefs are also big attractions for domestic and international tourists.

The most prominent include the "Fengpao" (swarm firecrackers) ceremony, where thousands of firecrackers hung on a tall wooden stand are set off in Yanshuei, Tainan County, and the spectacle of hundreds of lanterns being launched into the sky in Taipei County's Pingsi.

Also, on February 27, large crowds will jump into the ocean near the scenic Yehliu Geopark on Taiwan's northern coast in a ritual dip in observance of local deities' visit to the area.

Editor: Li Cheng

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