Light Up the Night


The Taiwanese American Organization (TAO) at UC Irvine hosted its 3rd Annual Lantern Festival and Night Market on Saturday, Feb.

Nathan Duong/New University

25 in Student Center Pacific Ballrooms C & D.


The Lantern Festival is a traditional event held in Taiwan on the 15th day of the first lunar month to celebrate the Lunar New Year. The festival is highlighted by children going out with their families to temples at night while carrying all sorts of beautifully crafted and designed paper lanterns.


As its trademark event, TAO brought the Lantern Festival to the UCI campus and community. Admission to the event was free, while tickets had to be purchased for $1 each to use for food items. Some notable sponsors of the event were South Coast Plaza and Diamond Jamboree.


“We want everyone who attends the Lantern Festival to celebrate Taiwanese culture and for them to get to know TAO more since the club is only in its third year,” said Josephine Ho, President of TAO and a third-year English and political science double major.


“We started organizing for the event in November and we set up the Lantern Festival to be like a traditional night market but indoors.”


TAO’s Lantern Festival had over 30 food and game booths. Food included traditional Taiwanese dishes such as minced pork rice, green onion pancakes, three cup chicken and steamed buns. Other UCI organizations also sold food items at the event ranging from Vietnamese Student Association’s egg rolls to Tomo No Kai’s chili rice. The most popular game at the Lantern Festival was goldfish scooping, where attendees had a chance to fish for live goldfish to bring home with paper nets. Attendees also had the opportunity to paint their own lantern and bring it home.


“The Lantern Festival is also a great networking event since we have outside organizations like Taiwanese American Professionals come and provide more information to get involved with the Taiwanese community,” said Tammie Vu, Community Outreach Chair of TAO and a second-year nursing science major.


“The event last year motivated me to be on board this year.”


The Lantern Festival also featured performances by UCI’s Chinese Association Martial Arts (CAMA), Jodaiko, Southern Young Tigers, The Workday Release and the Informatics Student Association (INSA Dance).


“We had 500 to 600 people attend the Lantern Festival last year. With the success of last year’s event, clubs reached out to TAO to be a part of the Lantern Festival this year,” Ho said.


Yet, entertainment at the Lantern Festival was headlined by YouTube sensations Gerald Ko and Jason Chen.


“I’ve performed for TAO before so when they asked me to do this event, I got in touch with Jason and brought him to this one,” Gerald Ko said.


Ko and Chen sung a mix of originals, recent pop songs and Chinese songs. Jason Chen’s original “Best Friend” and Gerald Ko’s stirring cover of Jason Mraz’s “You and I Both” were crowd favorites.


“All types of people can be brought together by music, not just Taiwanese people,” Chen said.


Considering that TAO’s inaugural Lantern Festival at UCI in February 2010 started out as a small event, TAO has come a long way with an estimated 800 people attending this year. The Lantern Festival has now become one of the biggest indoor events at the Student Center. One can bring their family and friends to enjoy a night of delicious traditional Taiwanese food, exciting games and activities and live performances that celebrate Taiwanese culture.