Rugby, football and the country’s largest cultural festival are set to entertain Aucklanders and visitors alike on the weekend of 15-17 February.

The only professional kiwi team competing in the Hyundai A-League competition, the Wellington Phoenix, will host the high-flying Melbourne Victory at Eden Park on 15 February and attempt to extend a five-game winning streak at New Zealand’s spiritual home of rugby.

In the second part of a fantastic cross-code double-header at Eden Park, the Blues will face off against Super Rugby’s 2018 champions, the Crusaders, in a blockbuster season opener on Saturday at 7.35pm. After two pre-season wins, the Blues will celebrate 50 games in the jersey for exciting No 8 Akira Ioane.

Each of these events is expected to attract big crowds, but Auckland Lantern Festival will lead the way with up to 200,000 people expected to attend its 20th anniversary and take in the 800 lanterns at Auckland Domain – making it New Zealand’s largest cultural festival.

In support of the festival, Vector Lights will display a ‘Year of the Pig’-inspired animation and sound show on Auckland Harbour Bridge, between 9pm and midnight each night of the event.

Stuart Turner, Head of Major Events at Auckland Tourism, Events & Economic Development (ATEED), says hosting multiple huge events is what Auckland does best.

“Auckland has a fantastic range of venues that can cater to the demand that these types of events generate. And many of these venues have the ability to turn over different events night after night. 

“Combine this with everything else Auckland has to offer, and locals and visitors to Auckland can plan some incredible weekends here.”

Use of public transport is recommended for each event, with bus stops and train stations near both Eden Park and Auckland Domain.

Auckland Transport has confirmed free travel on trains, Northern Express and special event bus services for anyone carrying a Blues vs Crusaders ticket on 16 February. There is a dedicated webpage for Auckland Lantern Festival, with up-to-date information on public transport to and from Auckland Domain.

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