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Auckland’s pan-Asian flair ignites city centre in 15-day Lunar New Year celebration

Last Updated : 09 Feb 2024
2024 Pexels Kiro Wang Food

We’re joining millions of others round the world celebrating Lunar New Year – opening as the new moon rises and closing as the full moon fills the sky with light.

This time-honoured Lunar New Year tradition has been reimagined with a modern take in Auckland. Expect a street party, pride festivities, panel discussion, restaurant specials and a karaoke competition.

See full programme here.

You’ll experience the rich colours, sounds, tastes, traditions and beats of Asia and the ubiquitous Lucky Cat. The Lucky Cat has Japanese origins, but it is now adored and revered throughout Asia as a symbol of good fortune and prosperity. Learn more about the Lucky Cat [Maneki-Neko] icon.

In Auckland, the artist commissioned to illustrate our bespoke Lucky Cats is Aan Chu, an Auckland illustrator of Chinese Malaysian heritage. Chu’s design sees two Lucky Cats breaking out of the frame.

They symbolise young pan-Asian New Zealanders who are stepping forward with positive energy and developing a new voice in Aotearoa. In the design, the cats are surrounded by the national flower of countries that celebrate Lunar New Year.

Sign-posting the beginning of festivities on 8 February will be five large Lucky Cats shining in red neon light from the Darby Street lamp posts; designed by Aan Chu and built by Angus Muir Design.  

Then, Lunar New Year celebrations begin on 10 February with the inaugural Lunar New Year Festival in the forecourt (north atrium) of Auckland Art Gallery; the vibrancy builds further on 14 February with a signature Midtown Street Party this time in Lorne Street; and the crescendo of pan-Asian flair becomes a finale on 25 February in Aotea Square.

Auckland Council Lunar New Year Festival Director Eric Ngan is proud of our young pan-Asian population in Auckland. He says they have confidently reinvented what it means to be Asian Kiwi – proud of their roots, enjoying this city, and creatively evolving their traditions.

“We want this festival to celebrate traditional culture, and also to embrace our unique diaspora of Asian Kiwis who celebrate Lunar New Year. We have Kiwis living here who can trace their heritage from many Asian countries including China, Taiwan, Malaysia, Vietnam, South Korea, Singapore, Japan, Indonesia, and the Philippines.

“Our young Asian Kiwis are amused by the faux Orientalism we once saw in restaurants here - back in the ‘60s and ‘70s. They aren’t limited by that. Instead they are finding their place here and making it their own with an explosion of authentic Asian food experiences.

“The dining options have expanded beyond the once prevalent Cantonese cuisine offer of smorgasbords and takeaway meals such as Chicken Fried Rice, Sweet & Sour Pork, and Beef Chow Mein. Commonly enjoyed now are items like Peking Duck from Beijing, spicy Hot Pot from Szechuan, Char Kway Teow from Malaysia, Xiaolongbao from Shanghai, Bubble Tea from Taiwan, and who doesn’t love Yum Char from Guangzhou?!,” says Eric Ngan.

Ngan encourages Aucklanders and visitors to experience this Asian Kiwi energy and vibrancy – all happening in city centre streets and spaces - over 15 days.

Auckland Council is proud to bring this festival to the city centre, supported by the city centre targeted rate, inviting you to celebrate our Asian communities and businesses who make up a growing part of the cultural fabric and economy of our region.

Some of the highlights include:

Lunar New Year Lanterns 

WHEN: Wednesday 7 February to Sunday 25 February 

WHERE: Queen Street and surrounds 

More than 100 larger than life lanterns will adorn Queen Street and surrounds for Lunar New Year. The rich red decorations are an auspicious Chinese symbol of wealth and prosperity. Brought to you by Heart of the City. 

Lucky Cat neon lights 

WHEN: Thursday 8 February to 25 March   

WHERE: Darby Street city centre 

Enjoy double happiness during Lunar New Year and Valentine’s Day, with the city centre installation of huge red neon Lucky Cats! Pose with these adorable feline friends and flick your finger hearts for love and good fortune. 

Lunar New Year Festival

WHEN: Saturday 10 February 

WHERE: Forecourt, North Atrium, East Terrace, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki

Join us on Saturday 10 February to celebrate the Lunar New Year. You will be amazed by the acrobatic performances of the Tung Tek lion dancers and the beautiful costumes and shows by Love Dance Troupe.  More here.

Participate in a traditional Chinese tea ceremony, taste mooncakes and discover the art of making dumplings with Sumthin Dumplin. For kids, there will be craft activities inspired by the Lunar New Year and storytelling sessions.  

Midtown Street Party – Lorne Street neighbourhood 

Wednesday 14 February 

5pm-9pm 

Te Hā o Hine Place / 36 Lorne Street city centre 

Fall in love this Valentine’s Day as Lorne Street comes alive for Lunar New Year. Choose from awesome Asian eateries in this neighbourhood, see traditional and contemporary cultural performances, enjoy karaoke and kids’ crafts and hit the floor with a dance battle and silent disco. Relax with storytelling and an art exhibition.  

Lunar New Year in the square

WHEN: Sunday 25 February, 10am-7pm 

WHERE: Aotea Square, city centre  

Bring your whanau and be immersed in the vibrant pulse of pan-Asian communities as they come alive to celebrate new beginnings at Lunar New Year in the Square. Experience the electrifying energy of street dance crews going toe-to-toe in an epic battle. Let your taste buds dance too, as you indulge in mouthwatering delights from a selection of food trucks. Get hands-on at craft workshops that promise to unleash your creative spirit. 

And for those who harbour dreams of being the next karaoke sensation, step up to the mic and belt out your favourite tunes in the Karaoke Challenge – get ready to sing your heart out as if the entire world is cheering you on! Apply online to enter the Karaoke Challenge

Lunar New Year in the Square is brought to the city centre by Auckland Live - supported by Auckland Council and the city centre targeted rate. Read more here: Summer in the Square.

For the full Lunar New Year programme please click here

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