The seventh lunar month is Ghost month - the gates of the underworld open and the spirits come out to play! Throughout the month there are various ceremonies and rituals - One of the most vivid is the mid-month parade in Keelung (基隆), which happened on August 20th this year (the lunar date is fixed, thus the Gregorian date varies year by year).

The parade began at about 6:30pm and continued until almost 11pm and was absolutely massive, snaking it’s way around central Keelung there were hundreds and hundreds of dazzlingly bright floats ranging in size from large hand-trolleys to 18-wheel trucks. Between the floats there was an eclectic mix of dancers, lion dancers, dragon dancers, drummers, cheerleaders, unicyclists, diabolo (扯鈴) throwing troopes, marching bands, effigies of the deities, armies of pipers (嗩吶, akin in shape and volume to a vuvuzela, but with a melody, were loud enough to awaken sleeping ghosts alone, and sometimes even hooked in to a PA system for city shaking power), and many more groups and representatives. Every part of the local community was involved, from young to old - 小孩子 and 辣妹 to 阿伯 and 辣阿媽!

My favourites:

  • The dancing unicyclists: A large, school age, group of skilled unicyclists who not only unicycled their way around the city, but “danced” arm in arm as they went! …even more amazing that they can keep going all evening.
  • 三太子 (The golden faced effigy with 辣妹 on the top right of the second group of photos)
  • Lion dancing on stools (樁上舞獅) - Super skill as is, but on a moving truck too!
  • Taiwanese rice (台灣米)

The weather was inclement given typhoon Trami was due to hit in less than 12 hours but this didn’t affect things!

My far from brilliant photos below (moving subjects with a phone-camera in the rain …not well planned on my part)…

Photo: Rainy day in Keelung & Ghost Festival Parade, 臺灣基隆市, 2013年8月
Photo: Keelung Ghost Festival Parade, 臺灣基隆市, 2013年8月
Photo: Keelung Ghost Festival Parade, 臺灣基隆市, 2013年8月