New sites to cope with crowds

Auckland City Harbour News - - FRONT PAGE - By JOE DAW­SON

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.’’

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