新年快乐，恭喜發財 | Happy New Year!
On 5 February 2019, Chinese New Year officially kicks off and Auckland will be host to a number of events to celebrate the occasion.
What is Chinese New Year?
Chinese New Year marks the start of a new lunar year, which typically falls between the end of January and the end of February. The lunar calendar is based on complete cycles of phases of the Moon.
Celebrations last for 15 days, culminating with a lantern festival to celebrate the first full moon of the new year.
Food plays an important role during Chinese New Year, and there are a number of dishes that are eaten to bring good luck to families. The New Year’s Eve dinner is the most important meal in the festival as it is considered the ‘reunion meal’ for the family, where several generations will often gather together around the dinner table to enjoy each other’s company.
Families will clean every corner of their home in order to sweep out old bad luck from the previous year and will decorate with red lanterns and paper cuttings to ward off evil and bring good fortune to the household.
Red envelopes are another important tradition for Chinese New Year. The envelopes are filled with money and given to children as a symbol of good luck and protection from a legendary ghost, Sui, who was said to appear on New Year’s Eve and curse children by touching their heads.
Chinese New Year also marks the year of one of 12 traditional animals in the 12-year zodiac cycle. This is why celebrations will usually pay tribute to a particular animal. In February 2019 we will welcome in the Year of the Pig.
In China it is believed that the Zodiac Pig represents good luck, wealth and enjoying what life provides.
What is happening in Auckland?
Auckland is a proud multicultural region, with a sizeable Chinese community.
Recognition of Chinese New Year in Auckland began around 30 years ago by a group of Chinese residents who formed the Auckland Chinese Community Centre Inc. Over the years it has steadily grown to become a city-wide celebration of events, markets and magnificent decorations.
The growing support and recognition of Chinese New Year is greatly encouraged by ATEED, as Auckland’s economic growth agency. The Destination AKL 2025 strategy, which aims to improve Auckland’s visitor economy, highlights the need to improve the programme of cultural events in the region that will attract both locals and visitors.
Coincidentally, 2019 has seen the launch of a country-wide tourism effort dubbed “China-New Zealand Year of Tourism”, which aims to strengthen economic ties between China and New Zealand through tourism. China is currently our second largest tourist market, but there is always room to improve! ‘Traveller’s Avenue’ is a new addition to the Auckland Lantern Festival to recognise and promote this campaign.
And it just so happens that 2019 is proving to be one of the most exciting years yet for celebrating Chinese New Year in Auckland. Events and attractions include:
Auckland Lantern Festival - Thursday 14 to Sunday 17 February, Auckland Domain
Be entertained and dazzled by hundreds of handmade Chinese lanterns, music and dance performances, martial arts demonstrations, traditional Chinese art and craft. Additionally, treat your taste buds to a delicious dish from the wide-range of Asian food stalls. Come and enjoy New Zealand’s largest Chinese festival – for free! aucklandnz.com/lantern-festival
Vector Lights - Thursday 14 to Sunday 17 February, Auckland Harbour Bridge
Vector Lights will present a Year of the Pig inspired animation show between 9pm and midnight, for the duration of Auckland Lantern Festival.
Chinese New Year Festival and Day Market – Saturday 2 February, ASB Showgrounds
The one-day event commences with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern making an appearance with a traditional dragon/lion dance. This is followed by 200 exotic Chinese delicacies to taste, dozens of cultural songs, dances, and musical pieces to experience.
Happy Chinese New Year Acrobat Performance – Sunday 3 February, Vodafone Events Centre
This breath-taking acrobatic performance show highlights traditional Chinese culture with costumes and amazing acrobatic techniques.
Whau Chinese New Year Festival - Sunday 10 February, Olympic Park, New Lynn
The free event invites friends and families from all cultures to spend the day at Olympic Park to celebrate the Lunar New Year.
Chinese New Year at SKYCITY - Monday 4 to Monday 25 February, Federal Street
Explore the pop-up garden underneath the Sky Tower, decorated with lanterns and Chinese flora and fauna. Celebrate New Year’s Eve on Monday 4 February outside SKYCITY with dancing lions, dragons, and pandas. On Friday 8 February, Federal Street will host a mini-festival with food stalls, live entertainment, and a night market. skycityauckland.co.nz
Little Pigs Exhibition and Auction - Saturday 9 - Thursday 28 February, Parnell
More than 20 renowned artists and celebrities have decorated a ‘little pig’ to raise money for Starship’s National Air Ambulance. Each decorated pig is currently on display down Parnell Road, gearing up to go on auction on Thursday, 28 February (Jonathan Grant Galleries, 280 Parnell Road, 6pm). parnell.net.nz
Hemispheres - Friday 15 & Saturday 16 February, Bruce Mason Centre
A fusion of artists from both sides of the Pacific Ocean: Hemispheres is an impressive international collaboration between the longest-running contemporary dance companies in New Zealand and China.
Late nights at Auckland Museum - Friday 15 and Saturday 16 February, Auckland Domain
In celebration of Chinese New Year, and to recognise the neighbouring Auckland Lantern Festival, the Auckland Museum will be open until 8pm for two nights of the festival.