Taipei’s annual Dream Parade—a cacophonous riot of color honoring Taiwan’s aboriginal villagers (and funded by a local property magnate)—has been likened to Rio’s Carnivàle and the Mardi Gras in New Orleans. Mark Daffey dives in.

Dressed in guises designed to replicate banana peels, wizened old women turn back the clock with a zestful vigor that belies their years. Bespectacled men, their decorative attire ablaze with what appear to be licks of fire, rattle tambourines while braying rhythmic chants. Latino-looking samba dancers frolic in step with the locals, never missing a beat, each costume as outrageous it is eye-catching. Suffice to say, it’s not your typical Taiwanese scene.

Welcome to Taipei’s Dream Parade, an annual street festival that’s part-musical jamboree, part-dance fiesta and part-fancy dress party, with more than a smattering of beauty pageantry added to the mix.