A sizable crowd gathered at Taipei City Hall Square on Friday evening to party while waiting for the iconic fireworks display at Taipei 101 to welcome in 2022.
Indie bands EggPlantEgg and Accusefive, pop-rock groups Tizzy Bac and Won Fu, rock duo Power Station, and Malaysian pop singer Fish Leong were just some of the big names that took to the stage at the square to entertain the crowd.
The acts were leading up to the Taipei 101 fireworks, now in their 18th year, at one of the world's most popular New Year countdown parties at a time when other cities have either canceled or scaled down festivities amid a surge of COVID-19 cases involving the fast-spreading Omicron variant.
As of 8 p.m. over 23,000 people were partying in the restricted area in front of Taipei City Hall Square, but much larger numbers of people had crammed into other areas near the Taipei 101 getting ready for the highly anticipated fireworks.
A 48-year-old Australian, identified as Mark, who lives in New Taipei, told CNA this was his second time out enjoying Taipei's New Year's Eve celebrations after he came to the country in November 2020.
"I think the celebrations are good, but clearly COVID is affecting things. When I saw it last year it was exciting for me as many parts of the world were in lockdown but the party in Taipei was booming," Mark said.
He hoped that the COVID-19 situation will get better so that more borders will reopen.
"People used to say world peace as a joke but the way the world has been suffering, I hope for a better world for everyone who has been impacted by the pandemic," Mark said.
Also enjoying the celebrations was Venessa, a 38-year-old engineer, originally from Hong Kong.
She said the celebrations in Taipei and Hong Kong are quite similar except that Hong Kong has a designated area for clubbing, called Lan Kwai Fong, and many people go there during New Year's Eve celebrations.
Comparing the fireworks shows in Taipei and Hong Kong, Vanessa said it was amazing to see fireworks shoot out of a building whereas the New Year's Eve fireworks in Hong Kong are usually held over Victoria Harbor.
Likewise with Mark, she also hoped COVID-19 will soon be behind us.
"2020 and 2021 have been really tough years for most people in the world, so I wish COVID can go away and we can go back to the old normal and not the new normal. The new normal sucks," Vanessa said.
Meanwhile, Filipino Ritchie Tongo, a photojournalist who has lived in Taiwan for five years, told CNA that Taipei has done well to be able to hold New Year's Eve countdown celebrations two years in a row during the pandemic.
"Taiwan has done a good job in terms of halting the spread of COVID-19 and the fact that we are having this today means they are doing the job," Tongo said.
He also hoped 2022 will bring peace to the everyday people of the world, he said.
The annual New Year's countdown show at the Taipei 101 will fire off 16,000 fireworks over 360 seconds, one of its longest and biggest displays ever, including dynamic wing-shaped and heart-shaped fireworks.
The show this year will adopt the theme "Towards a better future" in the hope of healing people's hearts and also drum up morale so that people in Taiwan and the international community can look toward a better future of peace, happiness, and a merry 2022, according to the organizers, Taipei 101.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel