Taitung hot air balloon festival to open on June 30

Taipei, April 16 (CNA) Taitung County's annual hot air balloon festival will be held in Luye Township from June 30 to Aug. 13 this year, with 39 stylish hot air balloons from home and abroad participating, the country government said Monday.

Taitung County Magistrate Justin Huang (???) decided to extend the festival by an extra week this year to 45 days to draw more visitors and give an additional boost to the tourism sector in eastern Taiwan, said Chiang Hui-ching (???), the county's tourism chief.

Tourism in that part of the country was severely affected by a powerful earthquake that hit Hualien, just north of Taitung, on Feb. 6 and has yet to fully recover.

As has been the case in past Taiwan International Balloon Festivals, several concerts with varying themes will be held in different venues in the county, including Luye Terrace, Chiang said.

A special show will be staged this year in conjunction with an open house at Taitung Air Force Base, combining hot air balloons in flight, a display of military fighter aircraft and a musical performance.

Another highlight expected to give visitors a unique experience is a light show concert at the National Taitung University Library, named by the world's leading architecture website architizer.com as one of eight unique national libraries across the world, according to Chiang.

The event will also feature several overseas hot air balloons shaped as landmarks or movie icons, including the famed Christ the Redeemer statue; the minions from the American 3D animated film series Despicable Me; and the hot air balloon seen in Up, the winner of the 2010 Academy Awards for best animated feature.

A hot air balloon in the shape of the English bulldog Buster will make its world debut at the festival, while balloons in the images of Taiwan's tourism goodwill ambassador OhBear and PXmart's Free Bear will be sent to welcome balloons from other countries, Chiang said.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel