Rabbit leaps in for Auckland Lantern Festival

Thursday 10 February 2011                   

Get ready to welcome in the Year of the Rabbit with the 12th annual Auckland Lantern Festival in Albert Park, central Auckland on February 18-20.

The Asia New Zealand Foundation is bringing to New Zealand a dazzling array of international performers to entertain and impress crowds with a mixture of contemporary and traditional music and performance art.

A highlight will be Beijing-based Askar Grey Wolf, a contemporary rock band with Uyghur and Han Chinese influences, fresh from a sell-out Australian tour.

For a taste of jazz with overtones of 1930s Shanghai we have looked further south to include Shanghai Bai Yulan jazz band in this year’s Lantern Festival.

Last but not least, the award-winning Chengdu Puppetry Theatre will bring to life the 2000-year-old Chinese tradition of rod puppetry – including a stunning Michael Jackson routine.

New lanterns sourced from China will include those representing the Year of the Rabbit. As always, there will also be plenty of local performances, food and craft stalls, and a fireworks display to end the three day festival.

Last year, the festival drew over 150,000 people from around Auckland over one weekend. Together with the Pasifika Festival, the Chinese Lantern Festival is one of Auckland’s signature cultural events.

The Chinese New Year festival period begins with the new moon of the first lunar month, in this case on February 3. It ends on the full moon 15 days later, coinciding neatly with the weekend of the Auckland Chinese Lantern Festival.

Asian cultures, like other cultures, welcome their New Year with loud, noisy celebrations and plenty of fireworks. For Chinese people, red is the lucky colour and is also worn and displayed to ward off evil spirits.

The Year of the Rabbit is represented by the fourth animal in the 12-animal Chinese zodiac. People born in a Rabbit year are said to be fortunate, talented, ambitious, virtuous, reserved, and have excellent taste.

Instead of the man in the moon, Chinese people scanning the night skies see a rabbit standing by a rock and a Cassia tree, holding the elixir of immortality between its front feet.

For more information about the Auckland Lantern Festival, visit www.asianz.org.nz.

Jennifer King
Culture Director
027 208 9422