Top Events

Matsu Pilgrimage April

Lantern Festival January or February

Spring Scream April

Indigenous Festivals July and August

Kaohsiung Lion Dance Competition December

January

Generally wet and cool in the north, dry and sunny in the south. Apart from students, there are few people travelling, unless the week of Lunar New Year falls in this month.

Southern Beaches

If you want to swim in the winter months, head south to Kenting National Park. Beaches in the north, the east and on Penghu will be closed and the waters choppy and chilly.

Lunar New Year

Held in January or February, Lunar New Year (LNY) is mostly a family affair until the very end, when spectacular Lantern Festival activities are held. There are LNY bazaars in cities like Kaohsiung, lasting from around the 28th night of the old year to the 3rd of the new.

February

Generally very wet and cool in the north, dry and sunny in the south. Possibility of cold fronts and sandstorms. Travel during the week of the LNY is difficult but usually easy before and after.

Lantern Festival

One of the most popular traditional festivals, with concerts and light shows across Taiwan. However, the simplest of all, the Pingxi sky lantern release, is the most spectacular. On the same day, Yenshui holds a massive fireworks festival, and Taitung has its Bombing Master Handan.

Mayasvi

The dramatic Tsou indigenous festival of Mayasvi thanks gods and ancestral spirits for their protection. It's held on 15 February in Tsou villages in Alishan.

April

It's usually very wet and warm in the north, wet and hot in the south. Generally, low season for individual travel but peak time for Chinese tour groups.

Spring Scream

Taiwan's largest and longest-running outdoor music event is held in the bright sunshine of Kenting National Park.

Matsu Pilgrimage

This annual religious pilgrimage is Taiwan's premier folk event. Hundreds of thousands of believers follow a revered Matsu statue on a nine-day, 350km journey, with a million more participating in local events (www.dajiamazu.org.tw).

Youtong Flowers

The tall branching youtong tree is found all over the north. In spring its large white flowers make entire mountainsides look as if they are dusted with snow. Check them out at Sansia, Sanyi, Taian Hot Springs and Sun Moon Lake.

Baoan Folk Arts Festival

Bao'an Temple won a Unesco heritage award for reviving traditional temple fare, and this is your chance to see lion dancing, god parades, folk opera, fire walking and god birthday celebrations. The festival runs from early April to early June.

Penghu Fireworks Festival

The two-month airline-sponsored Penghu Fireworks Festival kicks off in April. It features fireworks, food and music two or three times a week over the coastal stretch of Makung and, occasionally, a couple of beaches further out.

Blue Tears

The start of the 'Blue Tears' season in Matsu; the warmer months are best for viewing the legendary glowing algae, but you can spot them in April and May too.

May

It's the start of plum rain; expect heavy afternoon showers. Travel picks up across the island and on outer islands.

Start of Mango Season

Taiwan's mangoes are rated number one in Japan for good reason: they are sweet, succulent, fleshy and nearly sublime. Prices vary each year depending on the rains. The season ends around September.

Welcoming the City God

A smaller-scale pilgrimage than the Matsu, Welcoming the City God brings unique and colourful parades across the charming landscape of Kinmen.

June

It's getting warmer everywhere – already low 30s in the south. Heavy showers are possible. Major destinations are crowded on weekends.

Dragon Boat Festival

Honouring the sacrifice of the poet-official Qu Yuan, the Dragon Boat Festival is celebrated all over Taiwan with flashy boat races on the local rivers and tasty sticky-rice dumplings.

Taipei Film Festival

One of the highest-profile international cultural events in Taipei, with 160 film showings from 40 countries. Venues include Huashan 1914 Creative Park and Zhongshan Hall. Held in June and July (http://eng.taipeiff.org.tw).

Taiwan International Balloon Fiesta

Held in Taitung County's stunning Gaotai plateau (Luye), this recently established, two-month balloon festival is becoming one of the summer's biggest draws. In 2013 free flights were added to the roster.

July

Hot and humid across the island. Heavy afternoon showers in the north but not in the south or east. Possibility of typhoons which can disrupt travel. Many student groups are travelling. Major destinations are very busy, especially on weekends.

Indigenous Festivals

Every July and August a number of traditional indigenous festivals are held along the east coast. Themes include coming of age, ancestor worship, courting, harvest and good old-fashioned displays of martial and hunting skills.

August

Hot and humid but generally dryer than July. High possibility of typhoons. Many student and family groups are travelling. Major destinations are very busy, especially on weekends.

Day Lily Season

Orange day lilies are grown for food in the mountains of the east coast, and their blooming in late August and early September in places such as Sixty Stone Mountain is an enchanting sight that attracts flower lovers and photographers from all over the island.

Ghost Month

Ghost Month is one of the most important traditional festivals in Taiwan. Events include the opening of the gates of hell, massive offerings to wandering spirits, and a water-lantern release. Biggest celebrations are held in Keelung.

September

The weather is cooling but it's still hot during the day. High possibility of typhoons but conditions generally dry and windy. Local travel is dropping. Autumn is a great time to cycle.

Windsurfing in Penghu

There's world-class windsurfing from September to March across the Penghu archipelago. Wind speeds can reach 40 to 50 knots, and windsurfers from all over the world can be found here.

Sun Moon Lake International Swimming Carnival

The world's largest mass open-water swim takes place every September in Taiwan's largest body of water, Sun Moon Lake. The 3.3km swim is not meant to be challenging, but fun. Expect tens of thousands of swimmers.

Confucius Birthday

Held on 28 September with elaborate early-morning celebrations at Confucius Temples across Taiwan. Those at Taipei's Confucius Temple are the most impressive.

Taipei Arts Festival

A month-long extravaganza of theatre and performance art by Taiwan and international artists, the Taipei Arts Festival (http://eng.taipeifestival.org.tw) runs from August to September or from September to October.

October

The most stable weather across the island if there's no typhoon – dry, warm and windy. Best time of year in the north. There are few travellers except for tour groups.

Grey-faced Buzzard Migration

Tens of thousands of buzzards, and other raptors, appear over the Hengchun Peninsula (Kenting National Park) during autumn for the grey-faced buzzard migration, described as one of the world's great avian migrations. The birds appear in Taiwan again in the spring over Changhua (www.birdingintaiwan.com/gray-facedbuzzard.htm).

Boat Burning Festival

Held for one week every three years (autumn 2018, 2021 etc), this spectacular display of folk faith concludes with a 14m-long wooden boat being burned to the ground on the beach. Attended by tens of thousands, it's both a celebration and a solemn ritual.

Penghu Triathlon

An annual Ironman race and a short-course triathlon held in Makung.

Taichung Jazz Festival

Taichung Jazz Festival is a nine-day jazz fest featuring local and international musicians.

December

Cooling in the north but still warm to hot during the day; possibility of cold fronts and wet, humid weather. In the south it's usually dry with temperatures in the high 20s. Travel generally low except for tour groups to major destinations.

Kaohsiung Lion Dance Competition

Teams from Taiwan, China, Malaysia, Singapore and around the world compete in various traditional temple dance routines. This lively and colourful contest is held in Kaohsiung Arena and sells out fast.

Purple Butterfly Valleys

Mass overwintering of purple butterflies in the valleys stretching across southern Taiwan. Can be seen in Maolin Recreation Area from December to March during the morning hours.

Hot Springs

You can, of course, visit hot springs year-round but the days are cooling, especially in the mountains where many springs are located. It's a good chance to avoid the big crowds in January and February at outdoor pools.

Art Kaohsiung

Southern Taiwan's only international art fair, Art Kaohsiung, lasts approximately three days.