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Lantern Festival magic to light up Auckland

LANTERN FESTIVAL MEDIA RELEASE
27 January 2003

Lantern Festival magic to light up Auckland

Auckland's magical annual Lantern Festival is on again soon. Albert Park will light up with hundreds of spectacular lanterns, including brand new designs from China, as Chinese New Year celebrations come to a glowing finale at Asia 2000's fourth Lantern Festival.

The Lantern Festival, which marks the end of Chinese New Year celebrations, will be held from 5pm to 10.30pm on 14 - 16 February 2003. Last year's festival attracted more than 100,000 people and the organisers believe the 2003 Festival will be even more spectacular. Entrance to the Festival, and all the entertainment, is free.

"There will be the exciting overseas performers (including a unique lotus lantern dragon dance from China), plus the great local performers, stiltwalkers, food, crafts, fortune-telling, entertainment, fireworks and martial arts displays, that have made the Lantern Festival one of the highlights of Auckland's summer event calendar," said Jennifer King, Asia 2000's cultural programme manager.

"And it's also a special year! The Lantern Festival will greet the Year of the Sheep in the Chinese zodiac - a very relevant celebration for New Zealand! So not only will those coming along have an opportunity to be part of an ancient Chinese tradition, they'll also experience a unique New Zealand touch with a flock of sheep lanterns we have specially commissioned from China."

This year, the Lantern Festival also coincides with the celebration of Valentine's Day. In ancient times in China the Lantern Festival was popularly referred to as the Chinese lovers' festival as it provided a rare opportunity for young men and women to meet while admiring the lantern displays. So there might be more than a hint of romance in the air!

An important part of the Festival will be the lantern-making competition for Auckland schools. The best lanterns will be on display in Albert Park throughout the Festival.

The Chinese have celebrated the Lantern Festival on the 15th day of the first month of the lunar calendar since the Han Dynasty (206BC-221AD - the last in a series of Chinese New Year activities. Huge Lantern Festivals are held each year in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Singapore. Festival organisers ensure Auckland's festival is as authentic as possible and captures the exciting spirit of this ancient tradition, says Jennifer King.

The Lantern Festival is organised by Asia 2000 in partnership with Auckland City. HSBC is the Festival's core sponsor, supported by AIA, Lee Kum Kee, Sky City Auckland, Telecom/One Card, MORE FM Auckland, Cathay Pacific, COSCO (New Zealand) Ltd, Triangle Television and Golden Raindrop Chinese TV.

Auckland Art Gallery, which is currently featuring an exhibition of rare national treasures and artefacts from China, will be open until midnight during the Lantern Festival.

Central Parking in Chancery Street is staying open until midnight for the three nights of the Lantern Festival. This will cost a flat $5.00 on the Friday and $2.00 an hour in the weekend up to a maximum of $7.00 (on condition that the vehicle leaves by midnight on the day).

Check out Lantern Festival information on www.asia2000.org.nz or www.aucklandcity.govt.nz/lantern.

ENDS

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