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Auckland's Much-Loved Lantern Festival Is Returning Next Month

After two years of disappointing cancellations, the city's largest cultural festival is making it's long-awaited return.
By Sarah Templeton
January 17, 2022
By Sarah Templeton
January 17, 2022

One of the city's largest cultural festivals is making a long-awaited return. The Auckland Lantern Festival will take over its brand new venue in the ASB Showgrounds for three days, running from Thursday, February 10 until Sunday, February 13.

The festival hasn't been held since it was last held at the Auckland Domain in 2019, with its 2020 and 2021 iterations both cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

This year it returns to celebrate the Year of the Tiger, with over 100,000 Aucklanders expected to head through the doors over the three days.

Whether you're keen on making it a family day out or you're just set on getting a bloody good Instagram snap, there will be highlights for everyone. More than 800 handmade lanterns will be on show in the lantern pavilions, where visitors can follow the brightly lit trail and enjoy stories of history and culture.

We'd recommend heading in around dinner time: 29 different street stalls selling delicious Chinese and Asian food will be operating, as well as a series of vendors showcasing both traditional and contemporary crafts and gifts.

Those truly keen on the immersive experience can learn traditional Chinese calligraphy, kite making, fan painting and embroidery, and have a crack at solving a series of riddles. Entertainment on the main stage includes Chinese folk music, opera, orchestra, dance, and martial arts. Ticketed panels with speakers from the Asian-NZ creative community will also be held.

Finally, a spectacular fireworks display will round off the event at 9.30pm on Sunday evening.

Past lantern festivals have attracted hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders and visitors through the doors, and organisers say they hope this year will fill the gap created by the last two cancellations.

"The festival team is buzzing and can't wait to join the Auckland Chinese community in celebrating the Chinese New Year in spectacular fashion at the Auckland Showgrounds," Auckland Unlimited's Director of Arts, Entertainment and Events Richard Clarke said in a statement.

"So much hard work and mahi has gone into the planning and programming of the event – from new lanterns being commissioned to more craft stalls and new features including talks and films, group tours, an audio-described tour of the Lantern Pavilion, and extended weekend hours."

Those keen should get in quick: the festival is free to enter but ticketed to help with crowd management and contact tracing. Vaccine passes will need to be shown on entry.

The Auckland Lantern Festival will run at ASB Showgrounds from Thursday, February 10 until Sunday February 13. Tickets can be booked on the official website, where a full festival programme can also be found.

Published on January 17, 2022 by Sarah Templeton
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