Growing up in a Catholic family, my winter holidays were more or less like most families in England. For my siblings and I, it meant trying to stay awake during Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve.
Christmas mornings were spent gathered around the Christmas tree opening presents while our mum weaved in and out of the kitchen watching the turkey golden. We had the telly on playing films such as “Home Alone” or “The Snowman” in the background – the only ‘seasonal’ films my dad would tolerate.
Spending Christmas in Taiwan
This December 2018 will mark my 5th Christmas in Taiwan. The weeks leading up to Christmas Eve I will not take the tube to Oxford street to do last minute shopping nor will I freeze my butt off at Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park. Instead, I’ll enjoy the glistening Christmas lights in Taipei’s Xinyi district, a relaxing seven-minute walk from my place.
Here in Taiwan, Christmas is like any other day as the majority of locals do not celebrate this holiday. There are very few Christmas events, but that does not stop people from putting up Christmas decorations everywhere. Numerous cafés and stores will be adorned with tinsels, and fancy hotels light up their high ceiling Christmas trees.
Expats like me will be looking forward to Christmas gatherings with their friends and loved ones. Truth be told, for many celebrating Christmas in Taiwan can be tough. If Christmas day falls on a weekday, both locals and expats still have to work.
Still, that shouldn’t put a damper on our Christmas spirit, there are some cool Christmas events popping up in the city. Here are some ideas on what to do in Taipei for Christmas.
Christmas Land in Banqiao
This December, the biggest Christmas attraction in Northern Taiwan is back with more impressive lights! The shimmering lights are scattered around the entire Banqiao area including the New Taipei City Plaza, New Banqiao Central Park, Banqiao Station Building and Banqiao Station Front Square. Young people come prepared with their luggages for that dreamy photoshoot, while photographers station themselves in the middle of the crowds snapping away.
Umbrella decorated ceiling lights will make you feel a tad bit like Mary Poppins.
There are two colorful archways that are bound to make feel like you’re in a dreamland: The purple one seems to attract fewer crowds and the white one is the more popular. Nevertheless, when entering this magical arched walk way, you might have to fight your way through the crowds to take the dreamiest selfie.
The best time to check out the Christmas lights in Banqiao is after 10 pm throughout the week.
How to get there: Blue Line. Banqiao MRT.
Christmas at the Xinyi District
For those who don’t fancy venturing out beyond Taipei to see the Christmas lights, look no further than the Xinyi District. Towards the end of November, the whole Xinyi shopping district and Taipei 101 transform itself into a commercially dazzling Christmas shopping campaign. By no means is this place like Oxford Street! You can enjoy the Christmas decorations without feeling rushed and perhaps sit down to watch a classic Christmas movie at the open-air cinema at Xinyi Square.
Bella Vita, the luxury shopping mall in the Taipei’s upscale district of Xinyi never fails to deliver the most elegant, but simple Christmas installations. With an Arctic glacier theme, visitors can sip a warm cup of tea in the white glass hut and admire the white elks and sparkling Christmas trees.
Location: Bella Vita, Taipei
Christmas in Taipei wouldn’t be right without checking out Taipei 101’s Christmas lights at night. The Christmas trees and decorations are perched all over the district. Street performers, lively music and commercial activities will surely keep you entertained.
Taipei City Hall Bus Station Christmas
Location: Taipei City Hall Bus Station. Exit 2
This is one of my favorite places to enjoy a cup of hot chocolate while viewing the lights. The vibe here is more relaxed and usually attracts fewer people.
Gongguan Water Park
From December 1st, a Christmas frenzy will kick off at the Gongguan waterpark where families and friends can enjoy a fun-filled night during the winter period.
Date: Dec. 1 – 31
Hours: 9 AM – 5 PM (Tues. – Thurs.)
9 AM – 8 PM (Fri. – Sun.)
Closed Monday (Site will open on Monday of long weekend)
Location: Taipei Water Park
Address: No. 1, Siyuan Road, Taipei City
Hsinchu Christmas Market
The Christmas market is by far one of the most anticipated events among Christmas lovers and expats. Vendors will be promoting their unique Christmas goods in the market from Christmas bite-sized foods to Christmas gifts.
Tours to book in Taipei
I hope you’ve found this post useful. Whatever you’ll be planning this December, I hope you’ll have a fantastic Christmas!