Thousands of people gathered to celebrate the annual Lantern Festival which commence on the fifteenth day of the first month in the lunar year in the Chinese calendar. The Lunar New Year or Spring Festival began on 10 February, marking the start of the Year of the Snake, according to the Chinese zodiac.

According to report in Taipei Times, the lantern festival will feature five lantern zones where visitors can enjoy a variety of lanterns lit to usher in the Year of the Snake. Parades will be held on 28 February, 1 March, 2 March, 3 March, 9 March and 10 March. The main highlight of the event will be a 26m high snake-shaped lantern - symbolising the nation's success and prosperity in the year ahead.

Scroll down to see stunning pictures of Lantern festival and Chinese New year celebrations across the world...

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People release sky lanterns ahead of the traditional Chinese Lantern Festival in Pingxi, New Taipei city, northern Taiwan, February 17, 2013. Believers gathered to release sky lanterns as a form of prayer for good luck and blessings. The tradition of releasing lanterns began during the Ching Dynasty when bands of outlaws frequently raided villages, forcing local residents to seek refuge in the mountains. The lanterns were signals used by the village watchmen to inform the refugees that their houses were safe again. The Lantern Festival or Yuan Xiao Jie is a Chinese festival celebrated on the fifteenth day of the first month in the lunar year in the Chinese calendar.Reuters
People release sky lanterns ahead of the traditional Chinese Lantern Festival in Pingxi, New Taipei city, northern Taiwan, February 17, 2013. Believers gathered to release sky lanterns as a form of prayer for good luck and blessings. The tradition of releasing lanterns began during the Ching Dynasty when bands of outlaws frequently raided villages, forcing local residents to seek refuge in the mountains. The lanterns were signals used by the village watchmen to inform the refugees that their houses were safe again. The Lantern Festival or Yuan Xiao Jie is a Chinese festival celebrated on the fifteenth day of the first month in the lunar year in the Chinese calendarReuters
Sky lanterns are released ahead of the traditional Chinese Lantern Festival in Pingxi, New Taipei city, northern Taiwan, February 17, 2013. Believers gathered to release sky lanterns as a form of prayer for good luck and blessings. The tradition of releasing lanterns began during the Ching Dynasty when bands of outlaws frequently raided villages, forcing local residents to seek refuge in the mountains. The lanterns were signals used by the village watchmen to inform the refugees that their houses were safe again. The Lantern Festival or Yuan Xiao Jie is a Chinese festival celebrated on the fifteenth day of the first month in the lunar year in the Chinese calendar.Reuters
People release sky lanterns ahead of the traditional Chinese Lantern Festival in Pingxi, New Taipei city, northern Taiwan, February 17, 2013. Believers gathered to release sky lanterns as a form of prayer for good luck and blessings. The tradition of releasing lanterns began during the Ching Dynasty when bands of outlaws frequently raided villages, forcing local residents to seek refuge in the mountains. The lanterns were signals used by the village watchmen to inform the refugees that their houses were safe again. The Lantern Festival or Yuan Xiao Jie is a Chinese festival celebrated on the fifteenth day of the first month in the lunar year in the Chinese calendar. Picture taken with long exposure.Reuters
People release sky lanterns ahead of the traditional Chinese Lantern Festival in Pingxi, New Taipei city, northern Taiwan, February 17, 2013. Believers gathered to release sky lanterns as a form of prayer for good luck and blessings. The tradition of releasing lanterns began during the Ching Dynasty when bands of outlaws frequently raided villages, forcing local residents to seek refuge in the mountains. The lanterns were signals used by the village watchmen to inform the refugees that their houses were safe again. The Lantern Festival or Yuan Xiao Jie is a Chinese festival celebrated on the fifteenth day of the first month in the lunar year in the Chinese calendarReuters
People take part in the 14th Annual Chinatown Lunar New Year Parade in New York, February 17, 2013. This year celebrates the year of the snake, according to the Chinese calendar.Reuters
A girl wearing a hair piece shaped like a snake walks down a street during the Chinese New Year parade in Vancouver, British Columbia February 17, 2013. According to the Chinese zodiac, the Lunar New Year began on February 10 and marks the start of the Year of the Snake.Reuters
Girls wearing horse costumes walk down the street during the Chinese New Year parade in Vancouver, British Columbia February 17, 2013. According to the Chinese zodiac, the Lunar New Year began on February 10 and marks the start of the Year of the Snake.Reuters
People take part in the 14th Annual Chinatown Lunar New Year Parade in New York, February 17, 2013. This year celebrates the year of the snake, according to the Chinese calendar.Reuters
Visitors pray among slaughtered pigs holding incenses and tangerines in their mouths as offering during a Spring Festival praying ceremony in Nanan, Fujian province February 14, 2013. The Lunar New Year, or Spring Festival, began on February 10 and marks the start of the Year of the Snake, according to the Chinese zodiac.Reuters
A woman dressed in traditional costume is reflected in the mirror of a 1956 Bentley as she takes part in the 14th Annual Chinatown Lunar New Year Parade in New York, February 17, 2013. This year celebrates the year of the snake in the Chinese calendar.Reuters
Girls perform a traditional dance during the Chinese New Year parade in Vancouver, British Columbia February 17, 2013. According to the Chinese zodiac, the Lunar New Year began on February 10 and marks the start of the Year of the Snake.Reuters