A giant lantern shaped like a UFO that weighs more than 2 tonnes would be the main attraction at the Taipei Lantern Festival, which is to start in Taipei’s Shilin District (士林) on Feb. 11, the Taipei City Government said yesterday.
The UFO, which measures 7m in diameter and stands at 5m tall, lights up with spotlights and an array of LEDs, including panels that display the festival’s mascot, “Auspicious Tiger,” in the cockpit, Taipei Deputy Mayor Tsai Ping-kun (蔡炳坤) told a news conference.
The tiger is next lunar year’s zodiac animal, traditionally symbolizing vigor and vitality.
Photo: Wang Sung-yi, Taipei Times
Tsai said that the connection between the zodiac animal and the spacecraft-shaped lantern is that the UFO is being flown by the “Auspicious Tiger” mascot to Shilin.
“This is to symbolize that it is bringing a whole year of happiness to Shilin, making the district brilliant,” Tsai said.
Festival creative director Akibo (李明道) said that the idea of the 2.5-tonne UFO was developed from an animation concept of a cosmic UFO that became lost in space and landed in Shilin.
Taipei then invited the travelers on the UFO to display the spacecraft as the festival’s main lantern, Akibo said.
“We hope it will spark the imagination of visitors and also give them an opportunity to broaden their horizons to give them unlimited possibilities,” Akibo said.
During the festival, the UFO would be the centerpiece of a three-minute show every 30 minutes in which it would be lifted 6m into the air to make it look like as if it is flying, Akibo said.
The UFO is one of Akibo’s many robotic-designed art installations across Taipei, including a Bluetooth speaker robot at Xinzhongshan Linear Park (心中山線形公園) and a treasure-finding airship at Taipei Children’s Amusement Park, Akibo said.
“When I was young, I didn’t have toys to play with, so when I grew up, I wanted to make a lot of big toys for myself and my children,” Akibo said.
The 10-day festival, which is to run through Feb. 20, would cover areas along three stations of the MRT railway serving metropolitan Taipei — including MRT Jiantan Station, which serves Shilin Night Market (士林夜市) — and showcase more than 50 lanterns and lantern artworks, the Taipei Department of Information and Tourism said in a statement.
The festival would also have two stage areas to host shows and performances, including by Golden Melody Award-winning artist Sanpuy Katatepan Mavaliyw and AKB48 Team TP, it added.
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