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Auckland's BNZ Lantern Festival Is Back After Years of Cancellations in a Brand-New Location

After a four-year-long hiatus, the festival is back — but there's been a few changes.
By Emma Clark-Dow
February 01, 2024
By Emma Clark-Dow
February 01, 2024

Auckland's BNZ Lantern Festival, widely regarded as one of Auckland's most popular free events, is finally returning to the Supercity after a four-year hiatus, thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic and Cyclone Gabrielle. The festival — and 500 lanterns — are descending on its brand-new location, Manukau Sports Bowl, from Thursday, February 22 until Sunday, February 25.

In the past, the festival attracted hundreds of thousands of people to its former home in Albert Park. Chris Simpson from Tātaki Auckland Unlimited is excited to deliver the cultural celebration to Aucklanders after the long break. "Last year, we were tantalisingly close to holding the festival at this new venue, and we know Aucklanders are more than ready to experience the festival's range of food stalls, cultural performances and displays this year."

Festival-goers will have the chance to indulge in treats from the 44 food stalls and enjoy exhilarating cultural performances while admiring the 500 lanterns sprinkled throughout. The pièce de résistance will be a 30-metre handmade dragon lantern crafted to celebrate the Year of the Dragon, an important year in the Chinese zodiac calendar. The dragon is the only mythical creature in the zodiac, and it represents power, luck and prosperity, with 2024 expected to be a year of opportunities, changes and challenges.

As well as the festival's new venue, there are also a bunch of new experiences in the 2024 Lantern Festival lineup. This includes an outdoor movie theatre, a basketball court where you can shoot hoops with Auckland's BNZ Breakers and a new grandstand perfect for soaking in the traditional performances. The Lantern Festival will also be revealing the four zodiac lanterns that missed out on their time in the spotlight due to the previous years' cancelled festivities. A fireworks display will close out the three-day festival on Sunday, February 25.

The Auckland Lantern Festival will be held at Manukau Sports Bowl, Te Irirangi Drive, Manukau City Centre, Auckland, Thursday, February 22–Sunday, February 25. Entry is free. Find out more on the festival's website.

Published on February 01, 2024 by Emma Clark-Dow
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