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Strolling Through the Taipei Summer Festival in Dadaocheng (TAIPEI Quarterly 2023 Summer Vol.32)

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Post date:2023-06-25

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TAIPEI #32 (2023 Summer)


Strolling Through the Taipei Summer Festival in Dadaocheng

Author Tina Teng, Genie Zheng Hsin Ya Teng, Kerstin Hsu, Genie Zheng
Photographer Department of Information and Tourism, Taipei City Government, Taiwan Scene, Zifilm Studio, Ying-Rong Chen


Welcome to Taipei, a city that epitomizes the essence of a subtropical summer — hot, humid, and bursting with a festive atmosphere. Whether you’re a local or a visitor, Taipei offers a plethora of activities and delights to suit your preferences.

Escape the scorching heat by embarking on an adventure to Maokong (貓空), where you can revel in the splendor of nature while hiking and savoring the tantalizing aroma of tea. Or immerse yourself in the captivating beauty of blooming hydrangeas at Yangmingshan (陽明山). At Huashan 1914 Creative Park (華山1914文化創意產業園區), the juxtaposition of industrial buildings and majestic banyan trees creates a haven that seamlessly blends artistry and cool respite. Families will also find the Taipei Fine Arts Museum Children’s Art Education Center (台北市立美術館兒童藝術教育中心) to be an ideal destination.

Don’t let the Taipei Summer Festival (大稻埕夏日節) slip through your fingers — it takes place from July 1st to August 20th at Yanping Riverside Park (延平河濱公園). It extends the celebration of Taipei Valentine’s Day (大稻埕情人節) to an impressive 51 days. Prepare to be dazzled by high-altitude fireworks on weekends and enthralled by captivating displays and activities on Wednesday evenings, featuring low to mid-altitude aerial spectacles.

8_3553_陳盈蓉_七夕派對-2022大稻埕情人節攝影比賽 (Copy)▲Splendid fireworks are set off over Dadaocheng in summer. (Photo ‧ Ying-Rong Chen) 

Our report not only showcases the dazzling fireworks, but also introduces the timeless attractions in Daodaocheng that cater to families, couples, and all who enjoy the thrill of exploration. Whether you yearn for cultural immersion, historical insights, photo ops, or culinary adventures, this year’s summer festival is an unmissable affair.

Dive into the Taipei Summer Festival, an unforgettable celebration that embodies the vibrant spirit of this dynamic city. Experience an extensive array of captivating events and activities spanning over an extraordinary period, ensuring a summer filled with excitement and lasting memories.

The Four Cornerstones of the Summer Festival
The Summer Festival this year is built upon four main pillars: the “8 Fireworks Shows,” “Adorned Cruise Ships,” “Riverside Lighting Extravaganza,” and “Gastronomic Delights.” These carefully curated experiences offer diverse perspectives of Taipei City, allowing attendees to witness mesmerizing fireworks against the urban night skyline, enjoy scenic views from the tranquil riverside, leisurely stroll to melodic tunes, and indulge in sumptuous authentic cuisine and delightful desserts.

Throughout the festival, a captivating fireworks display will grace the sky every Wednesday night at 8:30 pm, culminating in a grand finale on August 20th that promises to be a breathtaking spectacle. Visitors can also grasp the chance to partake in the “Taipei: Cycling Circle Trip (環騎台北)” challenge, embarking on a leisurely bike ride along the picturesque riverside, taking in the splendid vistas of Taipei. They can then make their way to the Dadaocheng Wharf Container Market (大稻埕碼頭貨櫃市集) to relish a variety of delectable cuisines, vibrant cocktails, and DJ performances, all while eagerly anticipating the weekly Wednesday night fireworks extravaganza.

ZI_F9907 (Copy)▲Visitors can enjoy the river scenery of Dadaocheng by bicycle, or by boat. (Photo ‧Zifilm Studio)

You can also find here at the wharf a delightful array of attractions, including whimsical coffee cup rides and enchanting carousels, inviting both children and adults to fully engage and enjoy a world of joy and laughter.

Moreover, the riverside will be bedecked with resplendent lighting installations, casting a romantic glow that enhances the scenic riverscape. Local businesses and travel agencies have joined forces to provide exclusive discounts and promotions, like Best Friends Tuesday, ensuring that the festival caters to individuals of all ages and backgrounds.

Dadaocheng — Where Taipei’s Cultural Legacy Blooms
Like most major metropolitan areas, downtown Taipei is where the city finds its roots. It carries the legacy of a city’s growth and development. Traces of the passage of time and a city’s cultural depth can be seen in the historic downtown’s street layouts, the residents’ lifestyles, and architectural variations. It is also typically a city’s major tourist destination. For Taipei, Dadaocheng is the heart of the city’s origin and a representation of the capital’s rich cultural heritage.

IMG_6996 (Copy)▲“Walking through Dihua Street, you can listen to music and drink coffee at Op.118.2 Cafe, or go to Li Ting Xiang or Lin’s Wagashi to taste a variety of desserts.  (Photo ‧ Taiwan Scene) 

In Dadaocheng, visitors can find a concentration of wholesale food, Chinese medicine and fabric stores on Dihua Street (迪化街). This stretch of Taipei’s historic downtown was the place for retailers and homemakers to find good bargains. Like many historic downtowns, modern cafes, trendy shops, restaurants, and bookstores have made Dihua Street their home over the past decade. The area’s metamorphosis is transforming the street into a cultural and creative fusion of the old and the new, the traditional and the trendy. Today, Dihua Street is a place frequented by the younger generation and visitors. On a beautiful summer day, the area blossoms with a youthful and energetic vibe.

Lovers’ Summer Destination
“Dating”and“romance”are words often associated with Dihua Street. This is because Yue Lao (月老), the Matchmaking God of the Taipei Xia-Hai City God Temple (台北霞海城隍廟) on Dihua Street, is famous for answering people’s prayers. The Matchmaking God’s reputation for fulfilling prayers for a good relationship and marriage is internationally known, especially among Japanese tourists.

ZI_F9967 (Copy)▲Taipei Xia-Hai City God Temple is an important historical site and also the spiritual center of Dadaocheng. (Photo ‧ Zifilm Studio)

Taipei Xia-Hai City God Temple was founded in 1859 and has been part of the history of Dihua Street for more than 150 years. It is a historic site and the channel of hope and faith where store owners in Dadaocheng seek blessings and guidance. The temple is especially crowded on Western Valentine’s Day (February 14th), Chinese Valentine’s Day (July 7th on the lunar calendar), and the birthday of the Matchmaking God (August 15th on the lunar calendar). On these three days, believers flock to the temple to pray that the Matchmaking God will help them find the person on the other end of the “invisible red thread” with whom they are destined to be.

The Matchmaking God doesn’t just answer to singles. Couples often go to the temple to pray for a stable relationship and a healthy marriage. Traditionally, when couples get married, they bring a Chinese bride’s cake to thank the God. Every year, the City God Temple receives about 6,000 bride cakes, a reflection of how “efficiently” the Matchmaking God works.

A Vintage Photography Adventure
In recent years, a highly popular activity has emerged: embarking on an exploration of Dadaocheng while adorned in qipao (旗袍, cheongsam dress) or vintage suits, capturing vintage-style photos amidst the backdrop of its historic architecture. In addition to serving as a tourism information center that provides insight into the historic downtown’s history and attractions, the Dadaocheng Visitor Center (大稻埕遊客中心) also provides free qipao and suit rentals, a lesser-known service that visitors must take advantage of for an immersive Dadaocheng experience. 

大稻埕換裝體驗3 (Copy)▲When visiting the Dadaocheng Visitor Center, be sure to experience dressing up in retro costumes for a photo shoot.(Photo ‧ Department of Information and Tourism, Taipei City Government) 

On the second floor of the visitor center, a delightful opportunity awaits visitors with three captivating vintage sets. These sets include a clothing shop, a Chinese medicine shop, and a cozy tea shop. Stepping into these meticulously crafted scenes evokes a nostalgic glimpse into the everyday life of Dadaocheng’s bygone era, and they serve as the perfect backdrop for amazing vintage photos. For this reason, the Dadaocheng Visitor Center is an attraction in its own right.

The Old Days Photography (小時代寫真館) is a popular portrait studio located on Dihua Street. The studio’s main concept is to recreate the 1920s scene in Dadaocheng where fashionable women in Taipei gathered for tea in qipaos, Western-style dresses and kimonos. 

From the outside, visitors can see a display of a wide range of vintage goods, including qipaos and tang suits, but a closer look reveals that it is a vintage photography studio. The studio’s services include costume rental, professional makeup and styling, indoor/outdoor portraits, and photo printing. The studio aims to create a unique one-stop destination for all photography needs. Whether it’s an individual portrait or a group photo with friends or family, each “artistic portrait” is tailored to create a unique and cherished memento of their time in Dadaocheng. As women gracefully don qipao dresses that blend seamlessly into the everyday tapestry of Dihua Street, Dadaocheng seems to be experiencing a fashion renaissance.

Foodie Heaven
Dihua Street is full of delicious cuisine. This charming streetscape seamlessly combines the charm of Minnan-style pedestrian arcades, elegant baroque architecture and contemporary Taiwanese buildings. This vibrant street offers a variety of tantalizing delicacies that will leave your taste buds in awe.

ZI_F9811 (Copy)▲“Old and new” is a major feature of Dadaocheng. On the streets, you can see traditional old shops, and you can also pass by coffee shops and art shops with novel decorations. (Photo ‧ Zifilm Studio)

Along the section of Dihua Street south of Minsheng West Road (民生西路) where Yongle Market (永樂市場) is located, visitors can truly immerse themselves in the local community vibe. Traditional Taiwanese snacks such as fish ball soup, rice vermicelli soup, braised pork rice, congee and side dishes can all be found here. Grabbing a quick bite at an outdoor street food stall is a remembrance of the nostalgic life in Dadaocheng.

Apart from tasting traditional Taiwanese foods, we highly recommend that overseas visitors make their way to Yao de Herb (姚德和青草號) with over 60 years of history on Minle Street (民樂街) to sample traditional tea varieties that are uniquely different from bubble tea. Taiwanese herbal tea, bitter tea, aloe vera tea and perotis tea are all traditional summer drinks that help quench the thirst.

Tucked away in an old apartment building on Lane 14 of Dihua Street, Yanhua 《Op.118.2》 (菸花) is a hidden haven for coffee lovers. The name of the coffee shop is inspired by Johannes Brahms’ Intermezzo Op. 118 No. 2, a choice made by cafe owner Zoc Kao for its easy memorization by foreign visitors. Baristas at the coffee shop prioritize the flavor and seasonal qualities of the coffee beans, ensuring they can provide customers with personalized tastes that cater to their preferences through engaging interactions. To beat the summer heat in Taipei, this year Kao concocted a refreshing drink by combining golden soda and chilled Ethiopian coffee, infused with hints of lemon candy and chocolate. Kao also shares his comprehensive collection of vinyl records with customers, who are welcome to request their favorite songs and let the turntable work its magic. There are many more unique coffee shops in the same lane, making it the “coffee street” of Dadaocheng.

IMG_6993 (Copy)

▲HOSHING1947 (合興壹玖肆柒) boasts a rich 70-year history as a beloved traditional Chinese pastry shop on Dihua Street. (Photo ‧ Taiwan Scene) 

Desserts are also not to be missed when visiting Dadaocheng. Lin’s Wagashi (滋養和菓子), a dessert shop founded in 1953 in Taipei, specializes in exquisitely crafted traditional Japanese sweets and is renowned for its authentic flavors. It is known for its monaka (mochi wafer sandwich), dorayaki (pancake dumpling), red bean daifuku (stuffed mochi) and pineapple cakes. It’s worth noting that the strawberry daifuku is by far the shop’s most popular item and always draws a crowd when it’s in season. Lin’s Wagashi offers seating in the pedestrian arcade in front of the store. Customers can enjoy a monaka and hot tea set for only NT$50, a simple and classic way to sample Japanese wagashi.

Established in 1895, Li Ting Xiang (李亭香) is the place to go for Taiwanese pastries. The pastry shop is known for creating a variety of pastries from mung bean powder, red bean paste, white bean paste, sticky rice, peanut powder and more. It uses butter instead of lard in its pastries, preserving the traditional craft while creating a more refreshing flavor. Among them, the“pingan turtle (平安龜, literally meaning“safe turtle”in Chinese) pastry”is a customer favorite. Turtles, known for their incredibly long lifespan, are often revered in Taiwaneses culture as symbols of longevity and protection. Turtle-shaped cakes, stamped with peace and safety, carry the wish for a long and prosperous life to those who enjoy them.

Leisurely Waterfront Retreat
The history of Dadaocheng’s development is closely linked to the opening of Dadaocheng Wharf on the Tamsui River. The Wharf, which is located at the No. 5 water gate (intersection of Huanhe North Road 環河北路 and Minsheng West Road), although no longer a commercial wharf, is a perfect place for recreational activities. The biking trail along the riverside stretches all the way north to Guandu (關渡) and Tamsui. Bike rentals are available from a YouBike station near Yongle Market, as well as from the Taipei Riverside Bike Rental Center (台北市河濱自行車租借站) at Dadaocheng Wharf. The biking trail from Dadaocheng to Tamsui stretches about 18 kilometers, and is one of the most popular weekend activities for locals and tourists alike.

Taipei River Cruise (台北市藍色水路) is another great way to get to know Dadaocheng. A mini-trip begins with a guided tour of the neighborhood’s historic sites (e.g., tea shops located near the Dadaocheng Wharf, Ku Residence辜宅, and Lee Chun-sheng Memorial Christ Presbyterian Church李春生教會), followed by a three-hour guided river cruise that takes visitors past Zhongxiao Bridge (忠孝橋), Shezidao Daotou Park (社子島島頭公園), Guandu Wharf (關渡碼頭), the mangrove habitat, and finally to Tamsui Wharf (淡水碼頭). On this tour, visitors will learn about the historical sites in the areas, the eco-habitat, the history of the river, and Taipei’s cultural heritage. It is a fun and educational activity for all ages. Special cruises such as night cruises and sunset cruises are offered when weather permits, making the river cruise an excellent summer attraction.

IMG_1352 (Copy)▲ At Dadaocheng Wharf you can drink beer, enjoy barbecue, and experience the joys of summer. (Photo ‧ Taiwan Scene) 

In addition, Dadaocheng Wharf is the perfect destination to witness a mesmerizing sunset. As the sun sets, the Tamsui River reflects its brilliant hues, casting a golden glow over the bustling cityscape. As night falls, Pier 5 Container Market transforms into a modern version of a night market. Food vendors, including beer bars, grills, coffee shops and pizza joints, are all housed in individual containers. More than a dozen shops offer an eclectic collection of international cuisines. The tops of the containers serve as outdoor seating areas where visitors can take in the breathtaking nighttime waterfront views. A relaxing night spent by the river, accompanied by the cool summer breeze, gives Dadaocheng Wharf the reputation of being the top night out destination in Taipei.

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