Featuring more than 15,000 lanterns, the festival originally started as a more simple Chinese New Year celebration. In 1994, the festival expanded from the confines of Nagasaki’s Chinatown to become the Nagasaki Lantern Festival. It takes place over the first 15 days of the Chinese lunar new year and venues are spread throughout Nagasaki, however, the two main event venues are Minato Park and Chuo Park.
Along with a display of lanterns, the festival includes fireworks, Chinese acrobatics, lion dances, dragon dances, Chinese theatre, kokyu performances, an Emperor’s parade, a Mazu (goddess) procession, a ‘campaign lady’ (beauty) contest.
Reaching Nagasaki from Tokyo is easiest by plane, with airports in Nagasaki itself as well as Fukuoka and Kumamoto. Once you arrive in the city, you can use the streetcars with a ¥500 pass to reach Shinchi Chinatown station which is close to Minato Park.
For hostel lovers, the Casa Blanca Hostel offers dorms, twin and single rooms for very affordable prices as does the trendy Hostel Mezame. Hotel-wise you can choose from the plush Victoria Inn or the smart and simple Hotel Forza.