Auckland Lantern Festival

Asia New Zealand Foundation in partnership with Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED) present the 2015 Auckland Lantern Festival in Albert Park from Friday 27 February to Sunday 1 March.

This year's featured overseas artists will be students from Shanghai Shangwen Martial Arts Academy, the Guangadong Puppert Art Theatre, farmer painter Lu Yongzhoug, reggae band Long Shen Dao and lantern-maker Wang Chen-Wen.

The festival also features tasty food, martial arts demonstrations, performances from local artists and - best of all - lots of beautiful lanterns!

View the slideshow from the Auckland Lantern Festival.

The Christchurch Chinese Lantern Festival will be taking a break this year and will return bigger and brighter in 2016.

Year of the Sheep

2015 is the Year of the Sheep (or Goat). The Sheep is the eighth of the 12 animal signs of the Chinese zodiac. 

If you were born in 1919, 1931, 1943, 1955, 1967, 1979, 1991 or 2003 then you are a Sheep (or Goat).

People born in these years are dependable, gentle, shy, sympathetic and inclined to be over-sensitive. They like their privacy and prefer to be part of a team rather than taking the lead. Sheep people are also creative and appreciate art and beauty.

Featured international artists

Shanghai Shangwen Martial Arts Academy

Some of China’s best young wushu students are set to amaze audiences at this year’s Auckland Lantern Festival with their daring martial arts routines.

The youngest students to travel to New Zealand from the Shangwen Martial Arts Academy in Shanghai are just 13 years old. They have been selected from more than 1,000 students at the Academy who study martial arts for three hours a day, five days a week, along with their regular academic studies.

Academy teams have taken part in many public events, including the 2008 Olympic Games and the 2010 Shanghai World Expo. 

Commonly known as kung fu in the West, wushu consists of fighting techniques, sparring movements, offensive and defensive tactics and use of wushu weapons.

For centuries, wushu has been practiced as a system of ethics and mental training in China, cultivating qualities such as independence, self-reliance and perseverance in Chinese youth. 

The Shangwen Martial Arts Academy is visiting New Zealand with support from the Chinese Ministry of Culture, Shanghai Cultural Bureau and Cathay Pacific.

Guangdong Puppet Art Theatre 

An award winning puppet troupe from Guangdong will bring Chinese legends to life at this year’s Auckland Lantern Festival.

Founded in 1956 in southern China, the Guangdong Puppet Art Theatre stages more than 300 performances every year in factories, rural villages and schools. 

The troupe performs for the army and stages opera shows free of charge in remote mountainous areas where income levels are low.

The Puppet Art Theatre’s repertoire is built around stories from the Chronicles of the Monkey King and other Chinese legends. It also includes contemporary plays and stories for children.

This will be the troupe’s second visit to New Zealand – their first was for Asia New Zealand Foundation’s Festival of Asia in 1999. 

The Guangdong Puppet Art Theatre are visiting New Zealand with support from the Chinese Ministry of Culture, Guangdong Department of Culture and Cathay Pacific.

Farmer painter Lu Yongzhong

Chinese farmer painter Lu Yongzhong likes to think big – so much so that he’s listed in the Guinness Book of Records as having created the “longest peasant painting in the world”.

Painting of two girls by Lu Yongzhong

Lu’s 16-meter scroll entitled The Happy Peasant Life took him four years to complete and depicts more than 5,000 village people celebrating the Spring Festival.

Lu will demonstrate his formidable painting techniques at this year’s Auckland Lantern Festival. 

Born in 1970 in Jinshan to a farming family, Lu says farm life gives him endless inspiration for his work. Lu now runs his own Rural Art Resort and teaches peasant painting. 

Traditionally, Chinese peasant paintings were a form of folk art using watercolours or woodblock prints featuring deities and auspicious symbols. 

Modern peasant paintings on paper depicting rural life have become very popular, and several distinct centres of painting have emerged, including Jinshan in the suburbs of Shanghai.

Mr Lu Yongzhong is visiting New Zealand with support from the Chinese Ministry of Culture , the Shanghai Cultural Bureau and Cathay Pacific. 

Reggae band Long Shen Dao

China’s first reggae band, Long Shen Dao (which loosely translates as The Way of the Dragon Spirit), have given their music distinctive Chinese elements by incorporating the   guzheng (zither) among their instruments

Reggae band Long Shen Dao in action

Their music also draws on rock, dub, hip-hop, ska and electronica.  

Founded in 2007, the band names the philosophy of Taoism (“the way”) and the Chinese martial art form of tai chi as inspirations – and have even been known to perform tai chi at their gigs. Their debut album was entitled Tai Chi Reggae

Lyrics contain references to the understanding of love and spiritual freedom, including aspects of Taoism, which promotes harmony with nature. 

Seen as defining China’s unique interpretation of reggae, Long Shen Dao have performed at every major Chinese music festival and received many Chinese music awards including Best New Band and Best New Album in 2012.

The band will play every night at the Auckland Lantern Festival. 

Long Shen Dao are visiting New Zealand with support from the Chinese Ministry of Culture and Cathay Pacific. 

Lantern-maker Wang Chen-Wen

Taiwanese lantern-maker Wang Chen-Wen uses his ancient art to put across a modern message.

Wang Chen-Wen with lantern-making schoolchildren in Wellington

The author of The Art of Traditional Lanterns, Mr Wang is also an internationally renowned bird artist who uses lantern-making to promote environmental conservation and bird protection.

He and his talented wife Tung Pi-Er are also well-known contemporary paper artists. 

Paper cutting was originally practised by the noble class, as paper was a precious commodity. Today, red paper-cuts are chiefly decorative and used for surfaces such as walls, windows and doors, and also given as gifts.

Building entrances are decorated with paper cut-outs at Chinese New Year to bring good luck. 

As well as demonstrating at the Auckland Lantern Festival, Mr Wang and his wife will hold a workshop at Auckland Museum.  

Mr Wang Chen-Wen and his wife Tung Pi-Er are visiting New Zealand with the support of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office and the Ministry of Culture, Taiwan.

Images from last year's festivals

If you missed last year's festivals, you can see highlights here:

Our Lantern Festivals - background

Want to find out how the Lantern Festival began, or where our lanterns come from? We've put together some information about the origins of the festival, how it relates to the Chinese New Year, and how our Lantern Festivals have developed over time.

Related pages

Social sciences teaching resource

China Here and Now (level 3-4) uses the Lantern Festival as a springboard to cover several social studies achievement objectives.

Last updated: 23 Apr 2015