After four years of cancellations, the BNZ Auckland Lantern Festival is set to glow again as it celebrates the Year of the Dragon at an all-new venue.

For four days from Thursday 22 February – Sunday 25 February, the festival will bring hundreds of lanterns to the Manukau Sports Bowl, along with traditional and contemporary performances, cultural displays, and the festival’s famous line-up of food stalls.

The Year of the Dragon is a significant year in the Chinese zodiac calendar, represented by the only mythological creature in the zodiac which is associated with power, luck and prosperity. To celebrate the Year of the Dragon, a newly commissioned handmade dragon lantern on a spectacular scale of 30 metres (the size of two buses) will be on display beside the main stage.

Chris Simpson, Head of Major Events at Tātaki Auckland Unlimited says the return of the festival has been much anticipated by Aucklanders.

“This BNZ Auckland Lantern Festival is such an important part of Auckland’s cultural life, and it’s been missed by Aucklanders and visitors alike.

Last year we were tantalisingly close to holding the festival at this new venue, and we know Aucklanders are more than ready to experience the festival’s range of food stalls, cultural performances and displays this year.”

BNZ Senior Brand Partnerships Manager, Kim Ravenhall, says, “We’re thrilled to be a part of bringing back the Lantern Festival. This festival is always hotly anticipated, and our involvement underscores BNZ’s commitment to growing the social, cultural, and financial wellbeing of our communities.

“This year, we’re proud to introduce the BNZ Basketball Court, where festival goers can enjoy guest appearances from the BNZ Breakers and BNZ Northern Kāhu players, participate in free skills sessions, and get some time on the court. Meanwhile, the BNZ Grandstand offers a fantastic spot for families and friends to relax, enjoy the festival’s array of food and performances, and really soak in the atmosphere.

“We’re proud to support an event that brings people together from all walks of life to celebrate the rich diversity of cultures in Aotearoa.”

Returning favourites in 2024

  • Over 500 handmade lanterns
  • 44 street stalls selling delicious food from many cultures, and 19 retail stalls including craft and gift merchandise
  • A spectacular fireworks display to close out the festival on Sunday 25 February at 9:50pm
  • A cultural courtyard featuring traditional clothing for hire, and traditional and contemporary art

New to the festival this year

  • An all-new venue with ample green space for displaying lanterns, within 20 minutes walking distance of bus and train connections
  • Alongside 2024’s Year of the Dragon lantern, four previously unseen zodiac lanterns commissioned especially for the Auckland Lantern Festival will be displayed – 2023’s Year of the Rabbit, 2022’s Year of the Tiger, 2021’s Year of the Ox, and 2020’s Year of the Rat
  • Shoot for the Stars at the BNZ Basketball Court, with guest appearances from BNZ Breakers and BNZ Northern Kāhu players, skills sessions and giveaways
  • Take in the mainstage performances from the BNZ Grandstand
  • A large outdoor movie screen, provided by Hong Kong-based airline Cathay Pacific, showing a series of family-friendly short films from its inflight entertainment catalogue

Notes to editor

  • The first Auckland Lantern Festival was delivered in 2000 by the Asia New Zealand Foundation in partnership with then Auckland City Council at Albert Park. The event has since grown to be the largest cultural festival in the region, taking place over four days
  • In 2023 BNZ became the naming rights partner of both the Auckland Lantern Festival and the Auckland Diwali Festival. The announcement of the partnership can be found HERE
  • Imagery for the festival, including previously unseen footage and stills of the festival set up at the Manukau Sports Bowl in 2023 can be found HERE
  • As part of the celebrations Vector Lights – the partnership between Vector, Auckland Council and Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency – will present a dazzling Year of the Dragon-inspired animated light show on the Auckland Harbour Bridge from 20 – 25 February. The light shows will run every 15 minutes between 9pm and midnight.