Spring, Happiness, Love 2018 Taipei City Azalea Festival
Spring, Happiness, Love
2018 Taipei City Azalea Festival
Article ｜ Chang Wenxin
Photos ｜Huang Jianbin, Taipei City Goverment Department of Information and Tourism
The blooming of flowers all over Taipei City celebrates the arrival of spring. The weather is getting warmer, and it's time for flower season! Starting with the Yangmingshan Flower Festival (陽明山花季), and followed by the Taipei City Azalea Festival (台北杜鵑花季) and Zhuzihu Calla Lily Festival (竹子湖海芋季), everyone can enjoy the colorful sea of flowers that greets springtime.
The Key to Predicting Azalea Blossoms
Azaleas are no strangers to Taipeiers, they can be found all along downtown streets and in the many parks. They are Taipei's official city flower, and have enjoyed a long relationship with this city. But as familiar as the azalea may seem, there are things about it that you and I might not be aware of.
According to Yu-Sen Chang (張育森), professor of the Department of Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, National Taiwan University (台灣大學園藝暨景觀學系), there are five kinds of azaleas in Taiwan: Taiwan's native azalea, which grows at mid to high altitudes; the Belgian Azalea, which has multiple petals, just like roses; the colorful Satsuki Azalea; the Kurume Azalea, which has smaller flowers and leaves; and the Hirado Azalea, which is common to Taipei. These varieties have their own shapes and growth features, but are all fun to see, and worthy of your attention.
How does one predict when a particular blossom will arrive? Chang lets us in on why "5.8mm" is the key. "The azalea blossoms in March, but buds form around the end of summer or the beginning of fall the previous year. When the outside temperature drops to create perfect conditions, the flower starts to bloom in response." Chang has studied azaleas for a long time and knows that when a bud reaches 5.8 mm in width, the temperature on that day can help predict when blossoms are likely to appear. This year, fluorescence should begin in early March, but it might be late due to all the cold snaps we've experienced this year. So – when the weather gets warmer, the blossoms will arrive, and we can all enjoy a colorful azalea feast!
A Floral Rendering in Watercolor Displays the Charms of Spring
The theme of the 2018 Taipei City Azalea Festival is: "Spring, Happiness, Love" – an invocation to the Goddess of Spring to bring good news and much happiness and love to this city. With that in mind, the world famous graphic designer, Qing-Yang Xiao (蕭青陽) was invited to design the festival's main visual effects.
Different from the coldly-toned designs of years past, Xiao employed watercolor to render flowers in a romantic vision of spring. Xiao hopes the beauty of his flowers will gain people's admiration, and make them feel like painting blossoms themselves. His text is formed by scripts decorated like wrapping paper patterns, suggesting that beautiful azaleas are wrapping up the city and decorating Taipei.
Discussing the inspiration he gets from azaleas, Xiao hums a song from his childhood: "In gentle March days, azaleas bloom on the hills and along the creeks, how beautiful...." Xiao has noticed that many elders still like to sing this song, and choose azalea stickers to send to their family and friends. This ably shows that the azalea is pleasing and familiar to elders – close to people's hearts and part of their daily blessings. In spring time, the azalea is just the perfect thing to share with people you love. Xiao's creation process in the run-up to this festival made him more interested in azaleas. "During the actual painting, I had many questions and wanted to learn more about this flower. And when I did learn more, I found even more beauty in it."
Flowers, Music, Picnicking – Enjoy a Happy Time!
Chu Pin-ze (朱品澤), Chief of the City Tourism Division of the Department of Information and Tourism (觀光傳播局城市旅遊科), says that by making the Azalea Festival more "localized, international and industrial," he hopes that increased numbers of people will come to enjoy the fun of the blossoms. This floral extravaganza starts on March 14th and features such events as speeches and tours hosted by Daan and Zhongzheng District Offices; the "Azalea Classical Music Festival" (杜鵑花古典音樂祭), held at Taipei Zongshan Hall (台北市中山堂) and Daan Park (大安森林公園); the "Happiness Carnival" (幸福嘉年華) market near Grace Baptist Church (懷恩堂) on Xinsheng South Road (新生南路); and the "Picnic Concert" (千人野餐音樂會) at Daan Park. These events are sure to deliver what the pretty little azalea symbolizes: "Happiness and Love" to our city.
In addition to participating in these events, you can also wander around and drink in the sea of azaleas at many spots, including the NTU campus, Daan Park, and along flowery downtown streets. You can take buses running along Zhonghua, Ren'ai, Xinyi and Xinsheng South Roads (中華路、仁愛路、信義路、新生南路) to view the gorgeous azaleas in the south part of town. In addition, the Festival has worked with the commercial districts of Gongguan (公館) and Shida (師大) to host the "Spend 100, Win a Flight Ticket!" shopping event. Why not combine blossom viewing, shopping and dining delights to create a wonderful spring adventure for you and your family!
In March, you can see graceful azaleas in Taipei, and find cherry blossoms and calla lilies in Shilin and on Yangmingshan. On warm spring days, go outdoors and enjoy the beautiful springtime!