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Torch Festival time in Dali

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This coming Tuesday Dali will host the Torch Festival (火把节, huobajie), the most important festival on the Yi calendar and a pyromaniac's dream.

Throughout Dali Old Town torches ranging in size from one to four meters are being sold with bags of pine resin (松子, songzi). The resin can be thrown on lit torches to create a fireball effect. Torches are paraded and swung through the streets and fireballs launched at passersby - the airborne resin burns up quickly but can be very hot and cause burns.

For first-timers some basic recommendations include: 1) Don't wear anything you don't want burned, 2) Avoid torch-brandishing children and 3) Your torch can be used against you; beware of people throwing pine resin on your torch or in your general direction.

Dali guesthouse Dragonfly Garden will hold a Torch Festival party from sunset on Tuesday until sunrise the next day. Fifteen yuan gets partygoers some live and DJed music and the opportunity to stare at a massive burning mushroom. Call Brian for info and accommodation: 15912600503.

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