Crowded lantern festival seeks ‘‘creative solution’’
The Auckland Lantern Festival could be lighting up a new park in the future with its location up for review.
But some ‘‘creative solutions’’ to issues of overcrowding could keep it at Albert Park for years to come, Asia New Zealand Foundation director of culture Jennifer King says.
The festival’s resource consent for the central city park expired in March at the end of this year’s event, leaving the possibility open for a change of scenery as part of the festival’s regular review.
Auckland Tourism, Events and Economic Development (ATEED) organises the event in partnership with the Asia New Zealand Foundation. King says Albert Park remains the foundation’s ‘‘strong preference’’ of location.
‘‘Obviously the festival is very popular which is great but I think that we do need to look at ways of spreading that crowd out so that everybody is comfortable and we’re hoping some creative ways can be found to do that,’’ she says.
ATEED external relations general manager Steve Armitage says planning for next year’s event is in its early stages.
‘‘Any assessment of different locations would include assessing the pros and cons of all options, including the current Albert Park venue.’’
ATEED and Asia New Zealand will take feedback from stakeholders into consideration when planning for the next event, he says.
The festival has been held at Albert Park for 16 years.
Waitemata Local Board chairman Shale Chambers says he welcomes the festival remaining at the park but festival-goers’ safety needs to remain a priority.
The free annual event is held in February to mark the end of Chinese Lunar New Year celebrations.
Around 70,000 people flocked to Albert Park during its four-day-run this year.
‘‘It’s a victim of its success,’’ Chambers says.
‘‘There will come a time when the issues of crowding and street closures can’t be mitigated but I’m not sure we’re quite there yet.’’
Crowding issues might be mitigated by extending the event for another night, he says. The festival now includes a lantern-only night without stalls and performances to ease the crowds. King says this can help families with young children to enjoy it.
Activities and entertainment have also been held at Queens Wharf in the past as part of the festival.
‘‘I think ATEED is looking at other ways of having activities which are parallel to the festival maybe in other locations around the city so that there is plenty for people to do,’’ King says. ‘‘That’s one very useful thing that can be done I think.’’
The Auckland Lantern Festival.