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Auckland Lantern Festival back after four-year hiatus

Auckland's Lantern Festival is set to return next month after a four year hiatus.

Last year's BNZ Lantern Festival was cancelled due to the Anniversary Weekend Floods while Covid-19 shut down the event for three consecutive years before that.

BNZ said the festival, which will be held at the Manukau Sports Bowl starting on the 22 February, will feature 44 stalls and more than 500 lanterns.

It said lanterns from the past four years will be displayed to make up for previous cancellations.

2024 will celebrate the year of the dragon, which is the only mythological creature in the zodiac, and associated with power, luck and prosperity.

A newly commissioned handmade dragon lantern, which will be about 30 metres long (the size of two buses) will be on display beside the main stage.

Tātaki Auckland Unlimited head of major events Chris Simpson said 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 said this year it wanted to introduce the the BNZ Basketball Court.

"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," she said.

There will also be 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.

A fireworks display will close out the festival on Sunday 25 February.

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