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A New Waterfront Home For Auckland’s Lantern Festival Tāmaki Herenga Waka Festival Returns

Two of Auckland’s biggest festivals will add to an exciting summer of events on the city’s waterfront at Ports of Auckland.

For this first time, Captain Cook and Marsden Wharves will host the Auckland Lantern Festival, one of the largest cultural festivals in New Zealand in February. A month earlier, Captain Cook Wharf will host the Tāmaki Herenga Waka Festival, a 12-hour extravaganza delivered in partnership with Mana Whenua.

Both events are delivered by Auckland Unlimited, the region’s cultural and economic agency, on behalf of Auckland Council.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff is looking forward to both festivals and says the waterfront will be a fantastic venue.

“Auckland Lantern Festival and Tāmaki Herenga Waka Festival are much loved by Aucklanders and draw crowds of thousands every year,” he says.

“Auckland’s beautiful waterfront is a great venue for both events. It’s right in the heart of our city with fantastic views of the Waitematā Harbour and Rangitoto Island—which will make the fireworks displays a real spectacle—and it’s close to public transport links and the many restaurants, bars and eateries that Auckland is known for.

“I hope Aucklanders get out and out about this summer and enjoy the festivals and everything our vibrant waterfront has to offer.”

Steve Armitage, General Manager Destination Auckland Unlimited, says cultural festivals add to the vibrancy of the events that will light up the waterfront this summer.

“We appreciate the Ports of Auckland agreeing to host these festivals on the wharves. Against this unique urban backdrop, these two colourful festivals will bring the waterfront to life next year. It’s a natural fit and will give festival-goers the chance to soak up the action in the city this summer,” Armitage says.

Tony Gibson, Ports of Auckland CEO says: “Ports of Auckland is delighted to host these festivals and welcome the Lantern Festival onto the port for the first time.”

“These festivals celebrate our diversity and are popular and much-anticipated fixtures on Auckland’s events calendar. We’re excited to be part of bringing them to the waterfront.”

Viv Beck, Chief Executive, Heart of the City says: “We’re thrilled to welcome the Lantern Festival back to the heart of our city next year. This is a significant and much-loved event that will bring thousands of people flocking to the downtown area and the timing is perfect.

“We’re expecting the city to be buzzing with the America’s Cup, and with beautiful new waterfront spaces in the area, adding more events like this will generate even more vibrancy and excitement. We can’t wait!”

About the Festivals

23 January 2021 | Tāmaki Herenga Waka Festival

Now in its fifth year, the Tāmaki Herenga Waka Festival is an annual celebration of the rich Māori history and culture of Tāmaki Makaurau through music, arts, craft and storytelling. The free event will see a 12-hour extravaganza from 10am until 10pm at Captain Cook Wharf.

Highlights for 2021 include Waka Hourua sailings on Waitemata Harbour, Māori marketplace, stage performances by Trinity Roots and Maisey Rika, Rongoā Māori, a 50m live graf art installation, kapa haka performances and a laser and fireworks display.

The Tāmaki Herenga Waka Festival is delivered in partnership with ngā mana whenua o Tāmaki Makaurau - the 19 iwi of Auckland.

24 February – 28 February 2021 | Auckland Lantern Festival

Celebrating Chinese culture and Auckland’s Chinese communities, the Lantern Festival will be the headline event for Chinese New Year celebrations in February.

The festival sees the public enjoy hundreds of elaborate handmade Chinese lanterns on display, cultural song, music, and dance performances, craft demonstrations, sponsor activations and competitions, retail and food stalls, and a fireworks display.

The event will remain a free, family-friendly event, and two public sessions each day - lunch and dinner – will be introduced.

The festival has previously held at Auckland Domain for the past five years, and Albert Park prior to that. The move follows the natural conclusion of the five-year resource consent for the Auckland Domain and a review of a number of alternative venues, with the move to Ports of Auckland considered the best outcome for the festival delivery in 2021.

Auckland Lantern Festival is delivered by Auckland Unlimited (formerly Auckland Tourism Events and Economic Development*), on behalf of Auckland Council and in conjunction with the Asia New Zealand Foundation.

2020/2021 Summer on the waterfront:

  • The PRADA America’s Cup World Series Auckland and PRADA Christmas Race: 17 December – 20 December, Waitematā Harbour
  • The PRADA Cup Challenger Selection Series: 15 January- 22 February, Waitematā Harbour
  • Tāmaki Herenga Waka Festival: Saturday 23 January, Captain Cook Wharf
  • Ports of Auckland SeePort Concert & Fireworks: Sunday 31 January, Captain Cook Wharf
  • Auckland International Buskers Festival: 29 January - 1 February, Waterfront
  • Auckland Lantern Festival: Thursday 25 February – Sunday 28 February, Captain Cook and Marsden Wharves
  • Auckland Art Fair, 24 February – 28 February, The Cloud
  • The 36th America’s Cup Match presented by PRADA, 6 March - 21 March, Waitematā Harbour

About Auckland Unlimited

Auckland Unlimited was formed following the merger of Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development and Regional Facilities Auckland, and took effect as a new organisation on 1 December 2020.

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