Taipei, Feb. 11 (CNA) The 2017 Taiwan Lantern Festival officially opened in Yunlin County on Saturday in what organizers called an event designed to highlight "distinctive Taiwanese flavor and local features."
President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文), Premier Lin Chuan (林全) and Yunlin Magistrate Lee Chin-yung (李進勇）lit the central theme lantern, a 23-meter high phoenix, to the delight of tens of thousands of visitors.
The president said she was happy to see that despite the recent cold weather people were still keen to attend the festival.
This year's festival, which will run through Feb. 19, is organized around the themes of "friendly earth," "cultural diversity" and "lantern festival hometown."
The festival is divided into several areas, including one that showcases the cultures of new immigrants from five Southeast Asian countries, as well as another area featuring traditional Taiwanese glove puppetry.
The main venue for the festival is a 40-hectare site in Huwei, with a supplementary 10-hectare site in Beigang, making this the largest lantern festival for many years.
According to the organizers, the festival will be open to the public from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m, Monday to Thursday and 10 a.m. to 10:30 p.m, Friday to Sunday.
Shuttle buses are available between the two sites.
The Tourism Bureau has invited TV producers from Thailand and Indonesia to attend the festival and introduce as wide an audience as possible to Taiwanese culture.
The bureau said that this was the first time TV crews from the two countries have attended the Taiwan Lantern Festival, each group made up of more than 100 people.
The bureau has plans to expand the promotion of Taiwan's festivals in the future by inviting well known foreign celebrities to introduce such events.
It estimated that more than 10 million visitors will attend the 2017 Taiwan Lantern Festival.
(By Yeh Tzu-kang, Chen Wei-ting and Lilian Wu)