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Glow and behold! Auckland Lantern Festival is almost here

Published: 25 January 2019
David Watson

Next month marks the 20th anniversary of the much-loved Auckland Lantern Festival, New Zealand's largest cultural festival.

Taking place over four days, from 14-17 February, over 800 handmade lanterns will shine their light in and around the trees and pathways of the Auckland Domain to celebrate the Chinese New Year. From traditional red lanterns to elaborate scenes, the array of colours and intricate paper designs will be a sight to behold.

The festival also features an extensive programme of local and international Chinese acts, more than 100 food stalls, art and craft displays and demonstrations, karaoke, and roaming performers.

New features this year include 'Traveller's Avenue' to recognise the China-New Zealand Year of Tourism, and an impressive, 7 x 3.5-metre lantern of a China Southern Airline plane in the Guangzhou skyline to honour Auckland's 30th anniversary with Guangzhou as its sister city.

To pay tribute to the Year of the Pig – the last animal on the 12-year cycle of the Chinese zodiac – a new spectacular pig lantern will be on display. Also, on the Harbour Bridge, Vector Lights will present a Year of the Pig inspired animation show on the between 8pm and midnight, for the duration of the festival.

Auckland Lantern Festival is an Auckland Tourism, Events & Economic Development (ATEED) led event and plays an important role in improving Auckland's visitor economy – an essential goal for the city's growth agency.

Stuart Turner, Head of Major Events at ATEED, says the festival is a much-awaited cultural highlight in Auckland's events programme.

"Auckland Lantern Festival's 20-year reign really does speak volumes. Its enormous popularity has dictated the festival duration, venue changes, and range of performances and attractions over the years, with the festival growing to become one of the most loved events on Auckland's calendar.

"There's something for everyone at this festival: unique performances, music, food and the beautiful displays; but it's the cultural experience that draws people in, which is why ATEED is proud to support events that showcase and celebrate Auckland's diverse people and cultures."

With up to 200,000 people likely to attend the four-day event, organisers are encouraging festival-goers to plan their visit in advance.

Event details:

  • The 2019 Auckland Lantern Festival runs 7pm-10.30pm on Thursday, 14 February, and 4pm-10.30pm on Friday, 15 to Sunday, 17 February.

  • Saturday evening is historically the busiest night of the event.

  • Thursday evening is the Lantern Appreciation Evening when the lanterns are lit for viewing but there are no performances or food, amusements or stalls operating. People attending on this night are encouraged to eat out prior to arrival – both Parnell and Newmarket have excellent Chinese restaurants to choose from, to keep in theme with Chinese New Year.

  • Coincidentally, Auckland Lantern Festival – which has ancient ties to finding love – falls on Valentine's Day in 2019. A stroll around the beautiful handmade lanterns is a great addition to any Valentine's itinerary.

  • Festival-goers are urged to plan their travel to the festival ahead of time, given extensive parking restrictions and road closures in place around the Auckland Domain for the festival. Please visit at.govt.nz for up-to-date information.

  • Lime Scooters should not be used on the festival route and will need to be taken to drop-off sites around the Domain.

  • Cash-out services have increased for the 2019 event, with 8 EFTPOS terminals available at any given time. Bringing cash is still advised as queues are likely.

Chinese New Year celebrations officially kick off on 5 February and will end with the Auckland Lantern Festival on 17 February with a fabulous firework show. Some other exciting events around Auckland are:

  • Chinese New Year Festival Market Day at the ASB Showgrounds on 2 February.

  • Parnell Business Association's Little Pigs Exhibition will be on show from 9-24 February. 22 little pig sculptures will be located across shops in Parnell and will be auctioned off to raise money for Starship Hospital.

  • A variety of events will take place at SKYCITY between 4-25 February, including a street festival on Federal Street on 9 February.

  • Hemispheres – an impressive international collaboration between contemporary dance companies in New Zealand and China will feature at the Bruce Mason Centre on 15 and 16 February, 7pm.

For more information on Auckland Lantern Festival, please visit aucklandnz.com/lantern