I don’t know about you, but I love experiencing different cultural events in my hometown. It’s quite easy to get stuck in your normal daily routine, and so it’s a relief to do something a bit different sometimes!
My favourite is the Auckland Lantern Festival, which is on every year during the Chinese New Year period. It’s a free event so it gets pretty busy – in the past it was crammed into an inner-city park, but over time the festival outgrew this venue, and so the Auckland Domain has become the Lantern Festival’s new home from this year – and what a fantastic venue it is. It’s so wonderful to use our lovely urban parks for free events like this!
The Auckland Lantern Festival
The lantern displays, often depicting traditional scenes like planting rice or playing instruments (and some not so traditional, such as the under-the-sea or Antarctic penguins displays!), are positioned underneath the large trees of the Domain with plenty of room to move. There would have been thousands of people there on the night that we visited, but it didn’t feel all that busy!
The soft glow of the lanterns, combined with the dark limbs of the trees above and the crunchy leaves underfoot, as well as the smell of street food, makes it feel a little otherworldly. It definitely didn’t feel like we were minutes from central Auckland!
Speaking of food, one of the best parts of the Auckland Lantern Festival is the vast range of Asian street food on offer – and it’s so cheap! We tried steamed BBQ pork buns, chicken satay skewers, steamed dumplings, BBQ chilli squid tentacles and mango lassi. I wish I could have eaten more, it all looked amazing.
There were so many wonderful displays that it’s hard to pick a favourite. Although if I had to, I think the huge dragon lantern in a pool is hard to beat – the reflection of the lantern in the water was so pretty.
The Auckland Lantern Festival is on in mid-late February each year, coinciding with Chinese New Year. It’s well worth visiting if you’re in town during that time and feel like being transported into Asia!
Are there any cultural events in your hometown that you visit? What’s your favourite one? Tell us in the comments!
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