Category Archives: Taiwan



As amble along in the Yanshui district of Tainan, in South-west Taiwan, on the 21st or 22nd of February this year, you may be forgiven for thinking you have somehow been transported to a distant planet, as strangely dressed people mill around. They are wearing everything from homemade space helmets, tin hats and motorcycle headgear throng around covered from head to foot in a mish-mash of protective clothing, scavenged from junkyards or thrift shops, thick gloves and fire-retardant scarves hiding the faces of the adrenalin filled well wishes.

2013 Yanshui Beehive Fireworks Festival 鹽水蜂炮

A raucous group of horn players strike up as statues of the Chinese god of war Guan Gong carried along in sedan chairs make their way through the crowds, behind the excited onlookers stand the “Bee hives”, standing four metres in height they are then wheeled into position. The bee hives, made entirely from pine, are actually launching stations for small rockets. Densely packed, some contain up to 600,000 tightly wound cardboard tubes with small directional sticks attached filled with black powder they whiz and dart around the crowds – being hit by one of these will, it is believed, bring you good luck.

Last year the two most popular bee hives built by Shen-Chi Chung and his family were modelled on the animated character; SpongeBob SquarePants and a huge pirate ship over eight metres in height, boasting around 45,000 rockets incorporated into the designs.


Costing around £12,000 each and taking around a month to build there are certain rules that have to be followed, the most important of which is that any woman may work on the structures as long as they are not pregnant, and any men wanting to participate must pray to Guan Gong three years in a row before they are allowed to assist with the building of the bee hives.

The grand finale sees three huge structures the first two contain 400,000 rockets each the final larger assembly will launch 600,000 rockets.

The first night is more of a local affair where the second night is mainly for the tourists, visiting officials and those not wearing protective clothing have the option to stand behind a 20 x 50 metre wire mesh screen.

The festival started in the late 19th century to combat cholera and the plague, Yanshui at the time was a very important port due to its location on the then busy canal system, the diseases had ravaged the area for two decades until a shaman summoned the god Guan Gong to dispel the evil, the deity agreed to attend as long as there was fireworks, in reality the sulphur from the fireworks killed the cholera’s bacteria the loud noise scared away the rats carrying the plague saving the city.

The Festival Director; Lin Yi-Ren, remembers back when as a child they used to hold the rocket sticks, letting them blast off from their fingertips and run around without any protection at all.

Although Taiwan recently suffered an earthquake of 6.4 which stuck 17 miles north of Pingtung City, the festivals organisers say it will still go ahead.



Most Dangerous Fireworks Festival in the World

Annually, the residents of Tainan City in Southern Taiwan gather together to hold an annual fireworks festival like no other. Held at the latter end of the Chinese New Year celebrations, the festival is also known as ‘Bee Hives’ as the pyro is fired from the ‘Beehive’ which contains literally thousands of bottle rockets stacked full of gunpowder.

As well as the fireworks, there are lots of other events and concession stands on offer which broadens the appeal of the event.

Originally started following a terrible cholera outbreak, killing thousands across the Country in the late 19th century. Locals used to visit the local temple to pray for relief from this terrible disease. They went on to ask the local ruling powers to set up a parade at the end of the Spring Festival, along with the route of which fireworks were lit in earnest. The plague was driven out and the locals laid this firmly at the feet of the procession and fireworks display and as such, the event has continued ever since.

What started out as a very small affair has grown into one of the biggest celebrations in the area and although as is apparent from the footage it is indeed quite dangerous, almost all of the people gathered are wearing helmets and full protective equipment, and appear to enjoy the experience a great deal.

The locals believe that it is good luck to be struck by a flying firework and there are even some religious extremists who take it to the next level wearing only a loincloth to be sure that they are hit and feel the pain which will give them good health and happiness for the forthcoming year…..Ouch.

They advertise it as being safe for children but personally, I would no more take my children and grandchildren to this type of event than fly them to the moon as there is a time and a place for kids to learn about firework safety, chemistry etc but standing in the street with them whipping past your ears is not really enforcing how to stay pyro safe.

I suppose that my living in a country that has a huge number of bonfire societies who make these boys look like amateurs (and the Sussex Bonfire societies have been on the go since the late 16th century) provided everyone is aware of the dangers and are free to leave whenever they wish or position themselves outside of the contact range I can’t personally see what all the fuss relates to.

The video below shows what fun they had.


Sony Bravia poster 2006 – New Year Fireworks

Here is a cool Sony firework poster of the Taipei 101 skyscraper:)

The picture taken by Daniel M Shih in 2006 and was selected by Sony Taiwan to feature alongside the Sony Bravia advertising campaign.