Hot air balloon festival kicks off in Taitung

Taipei--The annual Taitung hot air balloon festival kicked off Saturday at the Luye Township paragliding area in eastern Taiwan, with thousands of tourists at the site to witness the spectacle.

In its 6th year, the festival opened with 20 hot air balloons ascending into the sky, as elders from the indigenous Amis tribe prayed for good fortune for the event, which will run from July 1 to Aug. 6.

The Taitung County government said the festival will feature a total of 35 hot air balloons all over the world, a record high.

They will be on display according to three different themes.

The first theme, "happy alliance," will take the stage between Saturday and July 12, showcasing hot air balloons designed after famous pop culture characters, including Yoda and Darth Vader from the movie Star Wars.

The second theme, "the heart of the ocean," will feature hot air balloons depicting different sea creatures, such as the sea horse and octopus. These will be displayed between July 13-24.

The last theme will be "Samba carnival," which runs from July 25 to Aug. 6. Most of the balloons are from Brazil.

Besides hot air balloons, there will be a series of activities that cater to all walks of life, the county government said.

For instance, the festival will offer wedding photo opportunities, as well as a "paper wings competition," in which people can make airplane origami and see whose flies the farthest.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel