Taiwan's Yanshui Beehive Fireworks Festival – Think running with the bulls at Pamplona is dangerous? Wait til you see these images from Yanshui Beehive Fireworks Festival. The two-day festival kicks off on February 21.
Unusual blessing – It's considered a blessing to be struck by one of the many thousands of fireworks let off during the celebration.
Improvised protection – To prevent injuries, attendees improvise protective suits from fireproof clothing and motorcycle helmets.
Not. Bad. – While this deserves marks for creativity, we're really not sure how functional this homemade helmet is.
Preparing for the launch – The helmet-wearing crowd braces itself for the explosion of a "beehive," a large tower densely packed with up to 600,000 rockets.
Disease-fighting fireworks – The two-day festival started in the 19th century as an attempt to ward off evil spirits during a plague and cholera outbreak.
God of War – A bearer for a sedan chair carrying a statue of Guan Gong, Chinese God of War. Legend has it that Guan Gong demanded that fireworks be released in exchange for protecting the town from cholera and plague.
Stacks of rockets – A standard beehive fires off about 200,000 small rockets in two directions. The rockets are stacked together on a lattice frame.
1.4 million-rocket finale – The two-day festival concludes with the launch of two 400,000-rocket beehives and a massive hive stuffed with 600,000 more.
Empty beehive – After the rockets have exploded, an air of sulfur.
New addition – Pole dancers are a relatively new addition to the festival. Women perform during the opening festivities -- apparently to please Guan Gong -- as part of a convoy that also includes statues of deities.
Burning SpongeBob SquarePants – Shen-Chi Chung built two beehives for last year's festival, one modeled after SpongeBob SquarePants (pictured during launch). "I chose these designs for my grandson and to make other little kids happy," says Chung.
Devotion – According to locals, those who build beehives must pray and swear oaths to Guan Gong for three consecutive years before they can take part in beehive construction.
Annual celebration – The festival takes place at the close of Lunar New Year celebrations, during the Lantern Festival that falls on the 15th day of Lunar New Year.
Safer choice – Not everyone wants to stand in the middle of the action. These attendees -- wreathed in sulfur fumes -- watch the fireworks from the safety of a vacant lot.