Brightly coloured Chinese lanterns light the Auckland Domain this weekend as the Auckland Lantern Festival is in full swing. Celebrating the Chinese New Year welcoming in the Year of the Dog, it’s an event filled with hundreds of handmade Chinese New Year lanterns as well as crafts, performances, and food (plenty of food).
It’s a free family-friendly event, with activities and entertainment for everyone. It is expected to draw nearly 200,000 visitors over the four day weekend, so be sure to check the tips section below for transport suggestions.
Photo Highlights of the Auckland Lantern Light Festival
Food Stalls at the Event
- This year there are about 100 food and craft stalls, so arrive feeling hungry.
- Most only take cash, but there are ASB ATM machines near the food stalls. On Friday night the queue to get cash was the longest queue we saw all evening.
- In honour of the Chinese New Year, most of the food stalls offer Asian foods. Pad thai seemed a popular option, and it was what I selected. There are also smoothies, fresh coconut milk, and plenty of sweets including deep fried ice cream or ice cream in a fresh pineapple bowl.
- If you love food, while you’re in Auckland, check out a food tour:
Special Events at the Auckland Lantern Festival 2018
We didn’t arrive early enough to see many of the timed special events. Some of the highlights include:
- The opening ceremony was on the main stage on Thursday at 7.15 pm.
- The event will close on Sunday (March 4) with a fireworks finale at 10.15 pm.
- Throughout the weekend there are a variety of musical and acrobatic performances on the main stage.
- There is a martial arts arena with martial arts demonstrations until 8 pm nightly, followed by short films from the NZ Film Commission.
- A third arena, the Lion Dance lawn, intermixes Xi’an Shadow Puppets, a lion dance, and face painting, with DJ sessions beginning at 8 pm.
Photos from prior year’s Auckland Lantern Festival
Practical Information on Visiting the Auckland Lantern Festival 2018
- Entrance to the family-friendly Auckland Lantern festival is free.
- The lantern festival is on the Auckland Domain, the city’s oldest park.
- In 2018, the Auckland Lantern Festival runs from March 1 – 4 from 5 pm to 10.30 pm nightly.
- There is no dedicated parking for the event. The standard domain parking fills up quickly, and as with most Auckland domain events, many of the streets are closed to traffic. A better plan would have brought us to the city early in the day to enjoy the Auckland Museum and the Wintergardens (both on the Auckland Domain), rather than looking for parking in the evening.
- Even the paid parking lots were filled, but once we saw the crowds, we were no longer surprised.
- If you are going to drive, try to arrive plenty early, or park in the surrounding neighbourhoods. After 30+ minutes of driving around the domain searching for a car park, we ended up finding street parking in Newmarket and walking the 1.6 km back to the Auckland Domain.
- Use the AT Journey planner to find the best public transportation options from your neighbourhood.
- Another option is to spend the night in Auckland. We use booking.com to find the best rates in the city.
- Auckland Lantern Festival event maps are available, and being distributed by volunteers at the entrances to the festival along any of the primary walking paths into the domain.
- Primary event sponsors are ATEED (Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development), Harcourts, and ASB.
Other Auckland Cultural Festivals I Love
There is often an option for an Auckland festival on the weekends. The Chinese Lantern Festival is my favourite New Zealand festival. Some of my other favourites include:
- Chocolate and Coffee Show in Auckland
- Auckland Food Show
- Latin Festival
- Auckland Diwali Festival
- Seafood Festival in Auckland (no seafood festival in 2018)
- Auckland On the Water Boat Show
Will you be visiting the Auckland Lantern Festival this weekend? Which is your favourite lantern?
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