The early 2000s was a reclaimed space for arts and culture renaissance in Taiwan. With the success of a just 3.5 km west, it is unsurprising that the deserted former tobacco factory buildings occupying a plot of precious real estate a hop and skip away from the rapidly expanding Xinyi shopping district became a prime project for flipping into a public space for the arts. And over the past decade, Songshan Cultural Park has lived up to its potential, a steady presence in the lives of Taipei locals and visitors alike even as a massive arena (or perhaps one might say, very large egg) is built in front of it.
Even more so than its counterpart down the street, Songshan Cultural Park is truly an arts and culture and retail complex. The reclaimed buildings are home to gallery spaces that host rotating exhibitions and events as well as small shops and the Taipei Design Museum, accompanied by standalone structures with kitschy cafés and bookstores and libraries and even a FamilyMart because let’s be real, it’s Taiwan and you’re not allowed to be more than a few steps away from a convenience store.
Then there’s the Taipei New Horizon Building. A sleek, modern and certified green building that houses offices, venues, an art house film theater, an Eslite shopping mall and boutique hotel, all coexisting within the ethos of arts and culture and with views of Taipei 101 and Xinyi district. And of course, all of this is configured within a large campus filled with public art, greenery and a rather peaceful pond, all things considered.
Songshan Cultural Park is an easy destination to spend an afternoon. It’s rather peaceful on weekdays, and can be a little chaotic on weekends if there is a popular event or exhibition happening. But even on a busy day it is still a breath of fresh air from the next level bustle on the other side of the neighborhood.
This park and shopping mall and art space is the perfect place to go when you have nothing better to do than peruse. You don’t need to come with a plan, but you can come knowing that anything you care to do can likely be found within the complex. For the artsy hipsters, there are the museums and galleries. For people looking to shop, there’s the mall. For readers there are libraries and bookstores and Eslite (the mother of all bookstores in Taiwan). For the crafty there are workshops from glassblowing to woodworking and for families there are kid friendly DIY activities. When it comes to food there are sit down restaurants and a recently redone food court. There’s ComeBuy to quench a thirst for tea and Sarutahiko to fulfill any coffee needs. There’s outdoor space to get some air with plenty of indoor activities for a rainy day. It’s the kind of place that can appease guests of any age, and the surrounding alleys are filled with little cafes and restaurants.
Not to mention it is situated right in the heart of East District and Xinyi, and adjacent to the biggest venue in Taiwan. There is no shortage of things to do here no matter how you choose to consume your culture (through art, music, books, film, food, design and more).
|Hours||mall 11:00 – 22:00 every day, galleries and pop up area is open 09:00-18:00|
|Price||free, with ticketed exhibitions and events. shops and restaurants are generally in the $ – $$ range|
|Aesthetic||industrial and grungy in the reclaimed factory area, sleek modern and artsy in the eslite area|
Go here for: things to do on a rainy day, a casual meal with some casual shopping, an artsy activity that is free or a special ticketed event
Amount of time to spend: 2-3 hours is a solid amount to explore
When to come: afternoons are best – weekdays are more peaceful, but weekends have more events, choose your own adventure
Getting here: take the blue line to SYS Memorial Park station, use exit 2 and follow the signs to the cultural park
Other things to note: The actual hours of specific galleries and shops my vary. The outdoor space is always open.