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Lantern Festival To Light Up The Waterfront

Auckland Lantern Festival – the region’s most popular cultural festival – will remain free, but be ticketed this year for the first time, to allow ideal crowd management and contact tracing.

Tickets will be available online from 11 February with the event taking place at new waterfront venue, Captain Cook and Marsden wharves at Ports of Auckland from 25-28 February.

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. Tickets will be available to book from 11 February 12pm at Aucklandnz.com/lantern.

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.

*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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