New sites to cope with crowds
LANTERNS are in place and bright colours are emerging from fountains and hanging from trees.
Work to transform Albert Park from a tranquil botanic garden into an explosion of ‘‘massive energy’’ and colour is complete and from tonight until Sunday hordes of people will pile into the central city park to enjoy the Auckland Lantern Festival.
It takes a week and many workers to set the park up.
Arborists are brought in to hang lanterns in speciman trees, while lantern experts decipher the typically difficult instructions that come with new displays.
An archaeologist is consulted to make sure the historic parts of the park are treated properly. It is a huge job overseen by festival producer Eric Ngan.
Mr Ngan says a feature of this year’s festival will be an exhibit depicting the Chinese fable of Lady Whitesnake, brought in to acknowledge 2013 as the Year of the Snake.
‘‘We have a few new lanterns come in from China linked with the year of the snake, including Lady Whitesnake which is a Chinese fairy tale the majority of Chinese people will know about.’’
Up to 150,000 people will come to enjoy the lanterns, market stalls and performances over the three nights the festival is on.
This year the festival has spread out to offer some alternatives to those keen to get involved but put off by the crowds.
It started last night with a lantern-only evening at the park. There will also be screenings of Chinese films on the waterfront, a Lorne St component incorporating the library and input from the Auckland Art Gallery.
There will also be a lantern presence at the Sky Tower and Khartoum Place and Chinese red lanterns will form part of a central city display on Queen St.
‘‘It’s a victim of its own success,’’ Mr Ngan says of the size.
‘‘We are charged with growing the event in both duration and content.
‘‘We’ve designed the new sites to complement the massive energy of Albert Park – they’ll be more contemplative.’’
Mr Ngan says with each passing year the Auckland Lantern Festi- val evolves and is progressively becoming a more distinctive event.
‘‘It reflects this place and over the coming years we want to reflect it even more strongly.’’