The Auckland Lantern Festival, which this year ran from February 26 to March 1, is Auckland’s biggest Chinese festival and has been running for 16 years. It was first celebrated in 2000 and has grown larger and increasingly more popular over the years. This year it featured over 800 traditional Chinese lanterns, all of which are handmade with amazing attention to detail. The stunning displays range in size from small, single characters to complex scene creations and represent almost every element of Chinese culture.
The festivities also include a huge offering of traditional Chinese entertainment as well as a massive collection of food stalls. Dragon dance, music and range of other Chinese entertainment ensured visitors had plenty to engage with, and a fireworks display on the last night literally brought the Auckland Lantern Festival to a close with a bang.
A Little History
Lantern Festivals have been part of Chinese New Year celebrations since the Han Dynasty (206 BC-221 AD) and are usually held on the 15th day of the first month of the lunar calendar which marks the end of New Year festivities.
The Lantern Festival is also popularly referred to as the Chinese Valentine’s Day because in days of old it gave girls and boys a rare chance to go out in the evening without chaperones. Today Lantern Festivals are held each year in China, Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan to mark the end of Chinese New Year celebrations.
Part of the lantern festival tradition involves a game to guess riddles attached to the lanterns. In the old days the riddles were drawn from the Chinese classics and so were mainly the preserve of the educated classes.
Check out the gallery below to view just a small sample of the amazing lantern displays. All photos were taken on a Sony Xperia Z2 using the “Camera FV-5” app.