Guide to 2019 Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival in Taiwan: When to Go and How to Get There

This is your Guide to 2019 Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival in Taiwan: When to Go and How to Get There. The Taiwan Sky Lantern Festival in Pingxi district (平溪) is a bucket list experience and is often listed as a top 20 world festival, and highly recommended by Lonely Planet and CNN. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience in the cool, crisp mountains of Taiwan in New Taipei county. Release glowing paper lanterns during the world famous Taiwan Sky Lantern Festival in Pingxi, Taiwan. It is simply magical to watch the glowing lanterns in the mountains of Taiwan during Lantern Festival in spring and Moon Festival in the fall.

The first time I went to one of the most popular festivals in Taiwan, I couldn’t figure out how to get to the Sky Lantern Festival in Taiwan on my own very easily, much less with two kids. Was the festival in Pingxi (平溪) or Shifen? With the help of some friends to arrange the details, we finally made plans to stay in a hotel in Taipei and figured out how to get to the Pingxi Sky Lantern festival located in Shifen. I live and blog as an expat in Taiwan and getting to the Sky Lantern Festival took a lot of planning. It was worth all the effort!

This guide gives you all the advice and options on how to make the most of your trip to the Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival in Taiwan and decide when to go and how to get there. Whether you’re flying from Singapore to Taipei or taking a flight from the Philippines to Taiwan, this guide has all the tips you need to check off this best festival in Asia from your list of world travels. Join the 80,000 – 100,000 people who travel to the Pingxi Sky Lantern festival every year to check this bucket-list festival off their list. In this Taiwan Sky Lantern Festival guide, you will learn:

How to get to the 2019 Pingxi Lantern Festival in Taiwan

  • How to return to Taipei after the Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival
  • Considerations for taking kids to the Sky Lantern Festival in Taiwan
  • Calendar with Pingxi Sky Lantern festival datesHotels near Taiwan’s Sky Lantern Festival
  • Information about the Pingxi Lantern Festival (元宵節)
  • Environmental considerations
  • Day trips near Pingxi and Shifen
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Pingxi Lantern Festival in New Taipei, Taiwan

When is the 2019 Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival in Taiwan?

  • Sky Lantern Festival is February 19, 2019

The Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival celebration takes place starting on the 15th day of the first lunar month, after Chinese New Year. The dates are typically in mid-February. Planning when to go is essential because the dates change each year to follow the lunar calendar.

You can release a lantern any time of year, but the festival night is the busiest and most exciting time of year with fireworks, night markets, and vendors. In 2019, the Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival date is February 19. Additional activities and lantern releases are also busy on the weekend nights during the two weeks following Chinese New Year. Activities and setup start as early as 9 or 10 am in the morning, but the real magic of sparkling lanterns and festival food takes place starting just before sunset.

To book a half-day tour and Sky Lantern experience any time of year, click here to check rates.

A second Sky Lantern festival and celebration with lanterns takes places during the Moon Festival in Taiwan, also known as the Mid-Autumn Sky Lantern Festival. During this time, you can expect many tourists going to Pingxi to light a sky lantern during the mass ascension. Special shuttles and buses operate during this time also.

Mid-Autumn Sky Lantern Festival in Pingxi is September 14, 2019

Future Dates for the Taiwan Sky Lantern Festival

The Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival 2020 and 2021 dates are below for all you advance planners building your bucket list Asia trip!

  • 2020 Taiwan Sky Lantern Festival is Saturday, February 8, 2020
  • 2021 Taiwan Sky Lantern Festival is Friday, February 26, 2021

Where is the 2019 Pingxi Lantern Festival in Taiwan located?

The Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival takes places in the old coal mining village of Shifen. Shifen is located in Pingxi District in New Taipei county about 1 hour east from Taipei. Don’t make the mistake of going to the town of Pingxi! Pingxi District is the region of Taiwan where the Sky Lantern Festival is held, and Shifen is the village. Make your plans to go to the Lantern Festival in Shifen, Pingxi District, Taiwan.

If you are looking for a hotel in Taipei before the Lantern Festival, check out my suggestions for great luxury and budget options for hotels in Taipei, including family-friendly choices with a pool!

How to get to the 2019 Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival in Taiwan

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Most travelers arrive in Taipei for the Lantern Festival either at the Tayouan Taipei international airport or by the HSR trains. 

To get to Shifen village in Pingxi District, take any northbound train (EXCEPT those going to Keelung) from Taipei Main Station to Ruifang station. At Ruifang station, get off the train to transfer trains. Purchase a ticket to Shifen Station in Pingxi District on the Pingxi line. The train ride from Taipei to the Pingxi Lantern Festival in Shifen is about 1 hour or longer during the festival. The fare is less than $100 NT one way so this is the most budget-friendly way to get to the lantern festival. It is also the most crowded!

The train schedule from Taipei to Pingxi in English can be found here. Trains run until about 10 pm.

Taking the bus from Taipei to Shifen is another way to go to the Pingxi Lantern Festival. The road to Shifen is closed to traffic for the lantern festival to make getting to and from Pingxi more efficient. Tour operators offer options for a shuttle bus from Taipei, Keelung or Juifen. A shuttle bus service typically starts at 9 a.m. from the Taipei Zoo for $50 NT or $15 NT from Ruifang train station to Shifen. The return trip is free.

Shuttle buses from Taipei, Juifen and Keelung run all day long on the day of the festival from different tour operators. Shuttle buses in Taipei depart from the Muzha MRT station or the Taipei Zoo station. For the festival, bus lines are separated into standing and seated lines or queues. Lines are shorter and quicker if you are willing to stand on the bus or shuttle. Shuttle buses run later than trains after the festival so if you plan on staying until the very end, a shuttle or private driver may be your best choice.

The Pingxi Shuttle bus also offers transportation with stops at major attractions in the area for 100 NT. The schedule is available in English here.

Plan to depart Taipei no later than 3 or 4 pm to arrive in Shifen before sunset and avoid the worst traffic and packed trains. I recommend you stay nearby in Juifen or Keelung and visit the nearby Shifen waterfall in the area during the day.

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Paint your own huge paper lantern

A private van or taxi is another reasonable option for groups with multiple people or families. A taxi is $1,000 NT + additional for waiting time and return if you book this option.

Click here to check the prices for a private car to Juifen and Pingxi!

Book a tour from Taipei to the Lantern Festival with return transportation, via Klook. (about $1,050 NT — a great deal!)

How to return to Taipei after the Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival

Return trips from Pingxi to Taipei during the lantern festival are all crowded! As soon as the last waves of lanterns lift from the main stage, lines begin forming at Shifen station train tracks for trains and buses to return visitors. Expect standing room only with so many visitors leaving the festival at the same time. Hold kids hands as trains approach and quickly board to find a spot.

I recommend taking the train on the Taiwan Railway Pingxi Line from Shifen station to Ruifang Station (about 30 minutes ride, 20 NT). The last train from Shifen to Ruifang station is at 22:40. From Ruifang station, change lines to any train going west to Taipei. Trains run periodically and will be full. Expect the ride to take about 1 hour to Taipei Main Station, 50 NT). Advance tickets are available for sale 12 days prior to departure. Check the train schedule for the Pingxi Lantern Festival to and from Shifen and Ruifang here.

A private van or taxi is another reasonable option for groups with multiple people or families. A taxi is $1,000 NT + additional for waiting time and return if you book this option.

Click here to book a private car or van to take you to the festival and return you to Taipei after the lanterns are released and it is time to go home. 

Another option to return to Taipei after the festival is to take a shuttle bus. Shuttle buses offer round-trip transportation from the Taipei Zoo station to Shifen. The shuttle buses run later than the trains so if you plan on staying until the last lantern glows, the shuttle bus option may be your best choice.

Are the 2019 Taiwan Lantern Festival and 2019 Pingxi Sky Lantern Festivals the same event?

No, there are two huge, but different festivals celebrating the Lantern Festival in Taiwan. The Pingxi Sky Lantern festival takes place annually in Pingxi district where the highlight is on releasing glowing sky lanterns. The Taiwan Lantern Festival changes location each year to bring tourists to different areas of Taiwan. The Taiwan Lantern Festival features large, electronic lanterns combining pop culture with traditional Taiwanese cultural icons and zodiac signs.

The 2019 Taiwan Lantern Festival will take place in Pingtung, Taiwan this year in southern Taiwan not far from Kaohsiung. Night markets, dance troupes and a huge lantern parade are the highlights of this exciting festival.

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2019 Taiwan Lantern Festival in Pingtung blends high-tech with folklore and tradition

The dates for the Taiwan Lantern Festival in Pingtung are February 19 – March 2, 2019. Read my guide here on going to the Lantern Festival parade and festival!

Book a tour to the 2019 Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival

If the DIY transportation options for getting to the Taiwan lantern festival are overwhelming, consider booking an inclusive tour with private transportation and a day-trip to Juifen. Did you know can light a lantern even if you are not visiting Shifen during the festival dates? Yes!

Click here to book a Pingxi and Jiufen Day Trip from Taipei with Sky Lantern Experience!

Information about the Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival (元宵節)

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Shifen night market and lanterns at the Taiwan Lantern Festival

The Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival showcases thousands of lanterns lifting off of the old railway tracks in Shifen, lighting up the night sky. The main stage at Shifen Square showcases the mass ascension of lanterns every 20-30 minutes. Mass ascensions are released periodically from approximately 6:30 pm – 9:00 pm. You can register for free to participate in the mass ascension by signing up as early as possible at the square starting at 10:00 am.

There is no entrance fee to attend the lantern festival — attending the lantern festival is free! 

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Lantern glowing and ready to be released

When you arrive at the festival, you can buy your own huge paper lantern to decorate and release for about $200 NT each. Vendors nearby have calligraphy brushes and buckets of black paint for you to design and paint your own lantern. Each lantern is made of thin bamboo covered by rice paper, and it has four big sides to decorate. Try painting your zodiac sign and adding blessings and wishes for the new year to bring you luck! My kids loved personalizing their sky lanterns and following them in the sky once they took flight. For safety reasons, a professional will light your lantern for you.

Families and travelers will also enjoy the energy of the Shifen night market set up along the train tracks and village streets.

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Steamed soup dumplings at the Shifen Night Market – Pingxi Lantern Festival

Festival food and Taiwan delicacies like steamed soup dumplings, grilled sausages, pork buns and warm bowls of noodles keep you warm from the chilly air in the mountains. High mountain oolong tea is available everywhere.

One major caution for families is that trains actively arrive and load on the same tracks people use to light their lanterns. I had to pay attention and stay aware of sounds and approaching lights on the trains to jump off the tracks. Make sure you stay close and keep the kids off the tracks.

The night market is set up on village streets and is really exciting for walking with kids. You can easily light your lantern and then move on to other activities like the night market and watching fireworks over the bridge.

Where to stay near the Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival in Taiwan

 

Because the Pingxi Lantern Festival is so popular each year, many visitors to the Lantern Festival book a B&B in Juifen or a hotel in Keelung which also has a fun night market. If you are traveling with kids, I highly recommend staying overnight nearby to make arrival and departure less hectic. This is a beautiful area to enjoy Taiwan with many choices of day trips and attractions. I highly recommend staying in the area.

Book your hotel near the Sky Lantern Festival early because they fill up quickly!

Best Hotels near the Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival

Chien Ching B&B II

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Great location in Juifen, bright, friendly owners that comes highly rated. Some rooms have a balcony. Click here for rates!

Her Wan B&B

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Located in Shifen, right near the festival. This pleasant B&B offers beautiful grounds and a pool that is covered on hot days. Clean rooms in a great location. Check rates here! 

Keebe Hotel

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Located in vibrant Keelung, this newly-built and modern hotel is moderately priced. Offers family suites also. Check rates here!

Just for Fun B&B

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Located right in Pingxi, this popular bungalow books up quickly. Two huge king beds, sitting area, and more for a great price. Click here to book early!

Evergreen Laurel Hotel

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In Keelung, this elegant hotel is the most luxurious on the list. Includes a pool, ocean views and a kids club. Check rates here!
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Read my guide on Hotels in Taipei, Family-Friendly Luxury and Budget Choices if you’re staying in Taipei before going to the Lantern Festival in Pingxi

Compare the best hotels near the Taiwan Sky Lantern Festival


Hotel

 star 
rating

Breakfast
included

Location

Price

Family
perks

Compare
rates

Chien Chieng
B&B II

2

star

Juifen

Budget
friendly

Family rooms
family-owned
near Ruifeng
station

KEEBE
Hotel

3

star

Keelung

Moderate

 Family room
newly built
kids 0 - 9 free

Just for
Fun B&B

2

stars

Pingxi
District

Budget
friendly

Family bungalow
2 king beds
highly rated

Evergreen
Laurel
Hotel

5

star

Keelung

Higher
end

Kids club
family room
ocean view

Environmental Cautions for the Lantern Festival

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Sky dotted with lanterns at the Pingxi Lantern Festival in Taiwan

In recent years, a growing movement of people concerned about the environmental impact of the lantern festival have advocated against releasing lanterns because of the pollution it creates in neighboring forests.

There are alternative options to lanterns including a “digital lantern message” or writing a blessing tied to a bamboo stick for those who want to participate in the festival but avoid lighting a lantern. Some lantern vendors also sell a more environmentally-friendly lantern for about $10 USD made entirely of paper that combusts in the air.

Volunteers organize hikes to clean up paper lanterns after the festival and throughout the year. Residents can also exchange lanterns for common household goods as a way to promote clean-up in the area. Take into consideration the impact of the paper lanterns on the environment when planning your activities and whether or not to participate in releasing a lantern.

Day Trips and Attractions near the 2019 Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival in Taiwan

  • Houtong Cat Village
  • Little Niagra Waterfalls or Shifen Waterfall
  • Juifen Old Street
  • Keelung
  • Fulong Beach
  • Dawulun Beach
  • Lover’s Lake Park

To book a half-day tour and Sky Lantern experience any time of year, click here to check rates.

What to bring with you to Taiwan’s Lantern Festival in Shifen

  1. Bring a lightweight packable down jacket with you. Evenings in the mountains of Taiwan in February are cool. Click here.
  2. Carry a good quality headlamp with you for darker areas or walking to transportation in dim light. This is one of my travel essentials. Click here for the headlamp we use!
  3. One of the best travel hacks and gifts – reusable 12-hour handwarmer! Click here to order this great gift for the world traveler.
  4. Pack a fleece beanie hat or cap for the chilly night. Check the colors and styles here.
  5. A must-have. Order the Lonely Planet Taiwan guide (also on Kindle).

More Useful Resources on Taiwan’s Pingxi Lantern Festival

CNN “A Taiwan village where wishes light up the night sky”

Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival – Lonely Planet

New Taipei City Travel Bureau

Festivals – Taiwan Tourism Bureau

Lanterns taking off at the 2018 festival – Taiwan News

Pingxi – Wikitravel

Ready for more traveling in Taiwan? Read my 2-day Kaohsiung itinerary, the perfect weekend in Sun Moon Lakeand find the best hotels for families in Taipei here!

If you’re traveling to the Taiwan Lantern Festival, it will be held in Pingtung in southern Taiwan from February 19 – March 3, 2019. Read my guide here!

19 Comments

  • Margaret Lin

    Thank you for your website! I’ve been wanting to go to the Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival for several years and I finally get to go this February. So I’m so glad I found your blog. Can I ask you some more questions, please?

    1. We need to return to Taipei the night of the Festival (Feb. 19), so instead of staying that night, I was thinking of staying the night before and walking around town during the day. Would you suggest staying in ShiFen, JiuFen or Keelung. If in Jiufen or Keelung, would we need to take a bus back to Shifen where the festival is?

    2. Can I purchase in advance the ticket from Ruifang to Shifen? I don’t want to arrive in Ruifang and have them say that tickets are sold out to Shifen. My uncle in Taiwan is saying that I need to purchase train tickets way in advance, otherwise it will be hard to get a ticket.

    3. As mentioned before, I need to return to Taipei the same night as the Lantern Festival. I believe this is possible because a friend went to the Summer Autumn festival last year and returned the same night. Can I check with you how to do this?

    4. Can you explain a little more how the ascension of lantern works every 20-30 minutes and how we can be a part of this? Do you mean we would need to register in the morning in order to have our personalized lantern be a part of the mass assension? Do I go to the main stage at Shifen Square to register? And do they tell me to come back at a certain hour to prepare my lantern? Or do they keep it and we pick it up later?
    We can only register the day of, correct? I’ve heard that it’s important to get there early in the day (10am) so that you have a spot for one of the night ascensions. Is this true?

    Thanks so much!

  • Jennifer

    Hi Cerise! I’ll be staying overnight in Jiufen on Feb 18 and travelling to Shifen the morning of Feb 19 in hopes of being able to participate in the mass release. What’s the best way for me to get to Shifen the morning of Feb 19 and back to Taipei that same night? Will I be able to flag a taxi both ways? Many thanks in advance!

    • Cerise

      You can take bus 788 from Juifen to Ruifang station or a taxi to Ruifang train station, and from there I recommend the Pingxi line train to Shifen, a 30-minute ride. Trains and buses are all very crowded after the festival on the 19th. You can queue for a seat or standing-room-only (shorter lines!) for the train back to Ruifang station. From there, you can either transfer train lines to Taipei or take a taxi (about 45 minutes). If you are in a group, you can also hire a private driver who will take you and wait. Enjoy the lanterns – so magical!

  • Barbara Down

    I am confused is the mass lantern launch in a Park near Pingxi or near Shifen? The mass launch is not along the railway tracks right? And where do I go to on Feb 19 to get a ticket for the mass launch? In Pingxi or Shifen? Is it a building or a booth in the park?

    • Cerise

      The mass launch is in Shifen at Shifen Square. There is a registration booth at the square that opens in the morning (free) for mass ascension. Plan to register as soon as possible, starting around 10 am. Enjoy the festival!

    • Tiffany

      If I plan to stay at Keebe Hotel the night of the festival, what is the best way to get to the hotel from Taipei and from the hotel to the festival?

      • Cerise

        From Taipei main station, bus 1813 Keelung Station operated by http://www.kingbus.com.tw/, runs frequently and takes about an hour and is the cheapest option (about 55NT). Uber is also an option and will cost about 700-1000NT, or a taxi which is metered or can be negotiated. You can also arrange a private driver through Klook and do sight-seeing on the way. Have a great time at the festival!

          • Cerise

            You can take public transportation from Keelung to Shifen, but it will be a combination of bus (#788 from Keelung, a few minutes walk from the hotel) and get off at Ruifeng station to transfer to a train. The entire ride is 1.5 – 2 hrs. You might consider and Uber or taxi to Ruifeng or Badu train stations and then taking the train to Shifen from there. This will shorten your transit time and put you with all the other festival goers. You can also arrange a private car (links on the blog post for recommendations) to make the trip easier. It’s really fun – enjoy the festival!

  • Kathrin Wittchen

    Hi, thank you so much for these helpful advices. Do you have any idea if the Mid-Autumn Sky Lantern Festival is comparable to the festival in February? Is the mid autumn one much smaller? Thank you for your help!

    • Cerise

      They are both quite large – the February festival is the largest (but also the coldest!). Mid-Autumn is popular too and has a good festival feel as well. Both are equally fun and very similar.

    • Cerise

      Yes, I confirmed with the tourism bureau that the biggest mass ascension is on Feb 19. You can release lanterns any time of year, but the biggest night is Feb 19.

  • Jessie

    May I check if booking a room near Keelung or Juifen or Ruifang area is better on the exact day of the festival or a day before will be better?

    • Cerise

      I like the charm of Juifen, but Keelung is larger and has a better range of hotels. The festival starts on February 19 but will be active for the two weeks of Lantern Festival. This year it starts middle of the week so Feb 19 will be busiest, with the weekend nights being next most popular. Enjoy the festival – it’s a bucket list experience for sure!

  • Edelmen

    Hi! Is there a schedule of releasing the lanterns? We actually want to go to Pingxi from Jiufen but we don’t want to be left by the last train and bus.

    • Cerise

      They release every 20-30 minutes for mass ascension starting around 18:00 h – 21:00h. Before that individuals are releasing them constantly and so the sky is lit up from about 5 pm and on. Buses and shuttles will run constantly until quite late with choice of standing or seated queues, and trains will run until about 10 pm with so many people!

  • Jac

    You can actually release lanterns at Shifen any time of the year, but I guess the festival is probably the prettiest time to do so because it happens en masse!

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