First public Lantern Festival is held Event


NameFirst public Lantern Festival
CityTāmaki Makaurau Auckland


The Lantern Festival is a popular annual event held in Tāmaki Makaurau, and it is one of the country’s largest festivals, attracting up to 200,000 people during its multi-night run. Usually occurring in February, the festival is a celebration of the Lunar New Year as observed in several Asian cultures.

The first public Lantern Festival in Tāmaki Makaurau was held in 2000 and was a partnership between Auckland City Council (prior to the supercity amalgamation in 2010) and the Asia New Zealand Foundation (then called the Asia 2000 Foundation), which had been established in 1993 to build understanding of Asia among New Zealanders. It was a one-day event held in Albert Park, opened by then-Prime Minister Helen Clark and featured lanterns brought from Singapore. It was immediately popular, attracting around 40,000 visitors.

By 2019, the Festival was a four-day event held in the Auckland Domain, showcasing over 800 lanterns, including specially commissioned lanterns, food trucks, and performances. Eric Ngan, an artist, producer, and second-generation Chinese New Zealander, delivered ten festivals from 2013 onwards as an Event Producer at Auckland Unlimited. He has spoken of the impact the festival has had in introducing Asian cultures to New Zealanders through food and culture, “Food is just one little way that you can educate people without it being a lecture." In 2022, then Auckland Mayor Phil Goff said, "The Auckland Lantern Festival is New Zealand's largest cultural celebration, and a key component of the Auckland event calendar, especially for the Auckland-Chinese community".

The Lantern Festival did not occur in 2020, 2021, or 2022 during the COVID-19 pandemic. It returned in 2023 at the Manukau Sports Bowl.


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Last updated: 5 March 2024 Suggest an Edit


Henry Johnson, 'Asian Festivalscapes: The Festivalization of Asia in the making of Aotearoa/New Zealand', New Zealand Journal of Asian Studies, December 2015

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