Yanshui Beehive Fireworks Festival

Yanshui Beehive Fireworks Festival
Firecrackers and fireworks are an essential part of Chinese New Year celebrations. Centuries ago, people burnt bamboo stems filled with gunpowder to drive away evil spirits. In modern time, this tradition has eventually evolved into the use of firecrackers and firework displays. The city of Tainan, Taiwan even hosts its famous Yanshui Beehive Fireworks Festival on the day of the Lantern Festival.

The Yanshui Beehive Fireworks Festival is believed to date back to a cholera epidemic which broke out around 1875 and lasted for more than two decades. In order to ward off the disease, the survivors organized a procession to honor Guan Yu, the Chinese god of war and protection, to drive out the evil spirits that were thought to cause the epidemics. The procession was accompanied by firecrackers.

Over the years, the procession has transformed into a fireworks festival held every year on the day of the Lantern Festival (the 15th day of the lunar year). The Yanshui Beehive Fireworks Festival is notoriously dangerous, numerous spectators have been injured due to standing too close to the erupting rockets.

The festival is known for its signature fireworks known as “beehives”. A beehive is a multiple launcher made up of thousands of bottle rockets arranged in a specially constructed framework. The setup indeed looks like a beehive. When the contraption is ignited, rockets shoot out in all directions, whizzing and whirling across the sky.

As the fireworks symbolize the exorcism of demons associated with illness, poverty and bad luck, many locals believe that being hit by a rocket is an indication of good luck. That’s why a lot of spectators stand very close to “beehives”. To protect themselves against injuries, they dress in multiple layers and wear homemade helmets and thick protective gloves. However, despite all precautions 50 to 100 spectators are injured during the festival every year.

There have been numerous attempts to ban the festival, but it is still held every year, attracting thousands of spectators every year. The Yanshui Beehive Fireworks Festival is one of the world’s largest folk celebrations and at the same time one of the most dangerous festivals in the world.

Yanshui Beefive Fireworks Festival

Photo by Louis Liu




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