New Zealand

Lantern Festival back to light up Auckland’s waterfront – is postponed!

Rain checked - Lantern Festive, Auckland’s biggest cultural event...

Update… The 2021 Auckland Lantern Festival has been postponed to 4-7 March 2021, due to the recent COVID outbreak.

The decision was made by Auckland Unlimited to postpone the event following consultation with key event stakeholders and community leaders,

Mayor Phil Goff says it’s fantastic that the Auckland Lantern Festival is still able to go ahead.

“The Auckland Lantern Festival is a much-loved event and a great celebration of our Chinese communities; I’m really pleased we’ve been able to find a way to make it happen this year,” he says.

“Because it can only go ahead at Alert Level 1, we have delayed it by one week to allow more time for a return to that level.

“It’s a good reminder also that we all need to keep following the current COVID-19 health rules, to help ensure that we are able to move down to Level 1 sooner rather than later.

“Thank you to Auckland Unlimited and Ports of Auckland, as well as event and community stakeholders, for working together to enable the Lantern Festival to proceed.”

Auckland Unlimited Head of Major Events Richard Clarke says: “The feedback from key event and community stakeholders was clear – a postponement is preferred given the current situation.

“Delivering the festival a week later than originally planned gives Aucklanders the chance to still acknowledge and celebrate the significance of the event.

“This early decision also mitigates the financial risk of cancelling at late notice should Auckland not return to alert level one next week.”

The event will remain ticketed, with the free tickets booked online providing contact tracing as well as crowd and capacity management. Tickets are currently on hold for the festival. Guidance to ticketholders will be communicated soon.

The change in dates also means that the festival will add further vibrancy to the waterfront precinct on the first weekend of the 36th America’s Cup Match.

Auckland Lantern Festival is delivered by Auckland Unlimited*, on behalf of Auckland Council, with founding partner Asia New Zealand Foundation.

New Zealand Chinese Association Auckland Chairman Richard Leung says: “We are grateful that Auckland Unlimited and Auckland Council have been able to postpone the event to allow for Auckland to be at an alert level that the community can feel safe when attending the Lantern Festival.”

Last month accomnews announced that New Zealand’s premiere annual four-day festival celebrating Chinese New Year, Chinese culture, and Auckland’s Chinese communities would go ahead and celebrate the year of the Ox. It is a free, family-friendly event, smoke-free and alcohol free.

The popular festival will remain free, but will be ticketed this year for the first time, to allow ideal crowd management and contact tracing.

Tickets will be available online with the event taking place at new waterfront venue, Captain Cook and Marsden wharves at Ports of Auckland.

Auckland Unlimited, which delivers Auckland Lantern Festival on behalf of Auckland Council, is urging people to book tickets early to avoid disappointment.

Festival event producer Eric Ngan says: “Safety is a major priority for us. Through ticketing we can improve our crowd and capacity management throughout the festival, and support contact tracing. We are asking everyone to book their tickets early – choosing a specific entry time to the festival.”

Ngan adds that the festival, which has previously been held in central city parkland, will have a different feel to it this year.

“The new location brings an urban vibe to the festival, and we are embracing that. We’re using containers to create spaces and height to display the lanterns, which will be clustered to tell stories about wildlife, Sister City relationships and Chinese cultural history.”

Festival-goers can enjoy hundreds of elaborate handmade Chinese lanterns on display, cultural song, music, and dance performances, retail and food stalls, craft workshops and demonstrations, and activations from sponsors and major event partner ASB.

A firework display from a barge in the harbour on the last night of the festival will be visible from numerous vantage points around Auckland.

The free festival tickets will be limited, and the public will need to choose a specific entry time when they book online. Ticketing will ensure crowds are spread over the full opening hours of the festival. While there are no time limits for attendance, organisers are respectfully asking the public to limit their time at the Festival to three hours so that other members of the community can enjoy the festival too.

While the festival footprint is smaller, the festival has extended opening hours over the weekend: Thursday/Friday from 5-10.30pm; Saturday/Sunday from 11.30am-10.30pm. Thursday night – previously a quieter night without performance and stallholders – will now offer a full festival experience with food and entertainment.

“We expect the lunchtime opening hours over the weekend to attract a new audience, particularly families. The extended hours also give our stallholders more time to showcase and sell their products,” says Ngan.

The festival is more accessible by public transport this year, with the entry near Queen’s Wharf close to bus, ferry and train stops. Attendees are encouraged to plan ahead and use public transport to get to and from the event.

Ngan says Auckland Unlimited is excited about the opportunity the new venue has provided, and the festival will be a different experience to those held in the Auckland Domain and Albert Park over the past two decades.

“Relocating to the waterfront means we have been able to introduce new innovations that will result in an improved visitor experience, and we can deliver on the festival’s long-term vision and strategy.

“As an event producer, it’s not often you get the opportunity to redesign a major event, delivering it in a completely new venue and environment. It’s exciting and we’ve had really positive community support throughout,” says Ngan.

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