Gallery - Chinese Lantern Festival

February 18th 2011 marks the start of the Chinese new year. To celebrate that and bring a little social awareness of asian culture with its place in New Zealand the AsiaNZ Foundation organise a yearly lantern festival. The lanterns are all brought in from China itself and set up on display for people to enjoy in the evening for free. Combine the lanterns with stalls selling food plus tchotchke, rides of various sorts for the children and music acts (also mostly brought in from China). You end up with something that is worth a visit.

Sadly most of Auckland seem to feel the same way and the twilight hours were extremely crowded. This meant getting a clear view to photograph the lanterns was an exercise in patience and restraint. Most people are wilfully oblivious to you waiting with the camera to get the shot you want. Fortunately a healthy amount of the crowd were asians and short which made working around the crowd quite a bit easier,

This display was my favourite - always did like a good dinosaur. And this triceratops with a stegosaurus were good looking dinosaurs. Not too sure where the palms trees behind them fit though...

The theme varied quite a bit from each lantern collection. Here farm animals and vegetables were the order of the day.

The dragons in the last few shots were mounted across a fountain and the classic Chinese long snakey body that curled from stone to stone. Very different from the European tradition which has a less snake shaped body and more of a lizard style with bat wings.

If I had a little more time I could have worked this into a classic shot. I was trying to get a line of the lanterns to lead your eye to the Sky Tower, a very recognisably Auckland landmark, in the background. But with the mess of people wondering what the heck I was doing I had to cut it a bit short.

This logo reminded me a lot of a drum. It was just outside a busy tent I never did quite figure out what was going on in it. Lots of people traipsing in and out though.

Who knew? Pre-bubble wrapped kids!

If you are going to one of these in the future I'd strongly suggest scouting it first during the day - that way when you do come back it is with a plan of what you want to see lit up. Then you can work your way through the crowd with the minimum hassle and fuss. It is also worth researching where the parking is as this was in high demand and I got very lucky getting into the parking building near where this display was set up.

Still for just the price of a car park it made for a different night out. If the crowds are less numerous then you also can get a chance to try more traditional delicacies.

Philip R. Banks
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