As an essential part of the fishing culture of Shandong Province, Penglai Fish Light Festival is very popular in Penglai, during which a number of performances such as doing the Yanko, dragon-dancing, and beating drums and gongs are held in addition to the traditional memorial ceremony, attracting thousands of visitors from all over the globe to participate each year.
Penglai Fish Light Festival is representative of the fishing culture, and is also the reflection of the folk customs of fishermen along Penglai, highlighting its unique cultural connotations. Penglai Fish Light Festival has become an important and effective way to promote the fishing culture since China's reforming and opening up policy in 1989.
All the fishermen, grouped by households, will carry their sacrificial objects to the Temple of the Dragon King and the Temple of the Goddess of the Sea in the afternoon of the 13th or 14th day (March 3rd or 4th, 2015) of the first Chinese lunar month. They hold colorful flags and light firecrackers along their way, praying for a good harvest and fortune by offering sacrifices to the gods. Later, they jump into the fishing boats and offer sacrificial objects to the boat. Finally, the fishermen release lanterns into the sky to pray for a safe voyage from the Goddess of the Sea.
The entertaining activities during Penglai Fish Light Festival can be classified into two forms, singing performances and dancing performances, of which the former highlights singing operas (such as Three Kingdoms), and the latter highlights dragon-dancing and Yanko.
Light has three symbolic meanings for the fishermen around Penglai: the first one refers to the abundance of fish and shrimps, the second one refers to guiding the fishing boats to return safe and sound, and the third one refers to the fishermen being protected by their god along their voyage.
Split off from the Ghost Festival, Penglai Fish Light Festival has a long history of over 500 years, and it has been listed as one of China's intangible cultural heritages.
Luyang Village was initially built during the 29th year (1396) of the Emperor Hongwu's period (1368–1398) of the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644), from which time the Fish Light Festival has been held annually. There's a natural fishing harbor near Luyang Village, where the fishing boats from neighboring villages used to anchor to avoid rain and wind, so the fishermen funded the building of a temple for the Dragon King in the hope that they would be protected by it during their voyages. With the development of the fishing industry in Penglai, more and more people are now involved in the fishing industry, so they hold the Fish Light Festival each year.
Penglai Fish Light Festival is prevalent in several villages of Penglai, including Luyang, Bajiao, Shanhouchujia, Shanhougujia, Fengtai, Xialiujia, Wushilibao, Shawosunjia and Shanhouchuwang, among which Luyang boasts of holding the best Fish Light Festival due to its large scale and substantial social influence.
During the festival, the fishermen often vie with one another to offer sacrifices to the God of Sea; sometimes, they fight with one another, therefore, the festival is celebrated on the 13th of the first Chinese lunar month in Shanhougujia village and Shanhouchujia village, but held on the 14th in other villages.
For those visitors who are interested in the traditional fishing culture of China, you're highly recommended to participate in Penglai Fish Light Festival, and China Highlights can customize a trip to Penglai. After the festival, it's also advisable that you visit the famous attractions in Penglai, including Penglai Pavilion and the temples.
Address: Yuyang, Houshanchujia, Penglai, Shandong Province
Transportation: a bus can transport you there from Penglai bus station
Opening times: afternoons of March 3rd and 4th, 2015