Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival
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Offbeat Traveler: Sky lanterns

People release sky lanterns in Pingxi, a town in Taiwan near Taipei. The Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival is one of the events connected with the Taiwan Lantern Festival, which has been held for over 20 years. Next year’s lantern festival will take place Feb. 6. (Patrick Lin / AFP / Getty Images)
According to lore, sky lanterns were used as beacons in Pingxi in the 19th century. During attacks by bandits, villagers fled their homes and hid in the mountains. When the danger was gone, those who had remained behind released these lanterns to signal that it was safe to return home. The lanterns were later adopted for popular uses and flown during festivities. (Patrick Lin / AFP / Getty Images)
Residents fly sky lanterns in Chengdu, a city in China’s Sichuan province. The Chengdu Lantern Festival attracts over a million visitors each year. (China Photos / Getty Images)
This year’s Mid-Autumn Festival will take place Sept. 12. (China Photos / Getty Images)
An ox-shaped lantern in Albert Park during the Auckland Lantern Festival in New Zealand. (Phil Walter / Getty Images)
A parrot-shaped lantern. The 2012 Auckland Lantern Festival will take place in Albert Park near the University of Auckland. (Phil Walter / Getty Images)
Revelers attend Lantern Festival in Wuhan, a city in China’s Hubei province. (China Photos / Getty Images)
A fish-shaped lantern. (China Photos / Getty Images)
Animal-shaped lanterns on display in Seoul during the city’s first Lantern Festival celebration in 2009. (Chung Sung-Jun / Getty Images)
Lanterns shaped like Easter Island’s well-known statues. (Chung Sung-Jun / Getty Images)
Lanterns on the Cheonggyecheon, a stream in Seoul. (Chung Sung-Jun / Getty Images)
Lanterns in the shape of drummers. (Chung Sung-Jun / Getty Images)
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