TAIPEI Dec. 31 (CNA) — A massive crowd of people flocked to Taipei City Hall Square on Monday night awaiting the fireworks display at Taipei 101, as celebrations got underway across the country to welcome in 2019.
The revelers will be treated to a six-minute pyrotechnics show — the longest ever at the skyscraper — accompanied by music and animations on an LED lighting system, known as T-Pad, covering the 35th to 90th floors on the tower’s northern facade.
As in previous years, many visitors this year have come from abroad to see the Taipei 101 fireworks extravaganza, now in its 15th year, and attend one of the world’s most popular New Year’s countdown parties.
“I’ve been wanting to visit Taiwan so I chose Taiwan as our New Year’s holiday destination,” said Jaebeom Lee, a South Korea university student who traveled with his two friends.
Jeff Anderson, a citizen of the United States, said he came to Taiwan for the New Year’s holiday and at the same time to visit the family of his husband.
The rainy and windy weather did not dampen Anderson’s spirit or that of his husband and friends.
“Because of the cloudy sky, we’re going away from here to see it at a distance,” said Anderson, adding that he was looking forward to a “spectacular” Taipei 101 fireworks show made famous in videos.
Iris Babanto, an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) working at a factory, traveled to Taipei from Hsinchu by taxi with more than 20 OFWs to see the fireworks.
“I’ve seen Taipei 101 fireworks twice in five years since I started working in Taiwan,” said Babanto. “It’s different from what we have in the Philippines, but with fireworks, it feels like we are celebrating New Year and feels like we are at home.” Jonathan Paraton and five of his friends are also OFWs in Taiwan.
“I haven’t seen it in person, only on videos. I am excited to see the colorful fireworks explode from Taipei 101,” Paraton said.
A migrant worker from Thailand who gave his name as A Jay came with his girlfriend from Miaoli County where he works to enjoy the festive atmosphere Taipei has to offer.
“I haven’t been here even though I’ve worked in Taiwan for 10 years,” he said. “I am planning to return to Thailand after the contract ends next year so I have to come this year.” For the first time, a lighting system at the top of Taipei 101 will display a countdown timer from 99 seconds to the New Year, extending it from 60 seconds in the past, to fuel spectators’ anticipation of the New Year and the fireworks show.
According to Taipei Financial Center Corp., which manages the building, the animations to be featured in the light show will cover nine themes that present to the world the best parts of Taiwan. Among the themes are food and night markets, people and professions, geography and the environment, medical expertise, technology and contract manufacturing, and freedom and democracy.
Another difference of this year’s fireworks display will be the greetings in 16 different languages to be displayed toward the end of the show to convey Taiwan’s New Year’s wishes to the world.
Taipei City government spokesman Liu Yi-ting (劉奕霆) told CNA that the countdown party and the Taipei 101 fireworks have become one of the New Year’s celebrations capturing the most worldwide media coverage.
The Taipei fireworks shows, which vary in design every year but blend in elements unique to Taiwan and Taipei, have presented to international audiences many of the attractions and the multiculturalism seen in the country, Liu said.
This year’s fireworks display is again to be broadcast to the world via satellite, with live coverage of the show ready for all television channels and internet media outlets to download starting at 11:55 p.m. local time, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The display can also be viewed on the Trending Taiwan Youtube channel.
By Shih Hsiu-chuan