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A behind the scenes look at the Christchurch Lantern Festival

19 February 2018

Seeing thousands of people with smiles on their faces has kept Abe Fisher involved with the Christchurch Lantern Festival since it began.

The annual festival celebrates the end of the Chinese New Year period, with 2018 being the Year of the Dog.

Abe, the festival’s technical event manager, was at the first festival held in Victoria Square in 2005 and, although his company Illuminati-NZ Ltd now focuses mainly on commercial events, he says it’s the crowd’s reactions that keep him coming back each year.

“It’s awesome to see tens of thousands of people walking around and they all have these goofy grins on their faces. There’s no other festival that’s like it.

“When the lanterns are lit up it creates quite a magical environment, which is primarily what the festival is about to me,” he says.

This year the festival is being held on Saturday 10 March and Sunday 11 March, from 6pm-10pm, and is moving back into the central city for the first time in seven years.

Hundreds of spectacular lanterns will light up the Ōtākaro Avon River Precinct – connecting with the Avon River, Worcester Boulevard and the Square – with world-class entertainment, delicious food and traditional crafts also onsite.

There are three types of lantern included in the festival; tree, water and ground-based. A lot of time goes in to planning exactly where each of the hundreds of lanterns will be placed to delight the public.

“There’s been a lot of preparation for this year, as we are back in the central city and the location is obviously a lot different to Hagley Park," Abe says.

"The area is new and thoughtful consideration goes into every placement. Having the lanterns on and wrapping around the river in the city will be fantastic."

The lanterns are brought out of storage about two weeks before the event and all checked electrically. They are then carefully moved onsite in the days before the festival, prepared for installation and brought to life.

ChristchurchNZ General Manager of Attraction Linda Falwasser says as well as being a magical event, the Christchurch Lantern Festival is about celebrating Chinese culture, performance, art, business, tourism and education.

Festival-goers are encouraged to think about how they will travel to the festival, which is a sustainable event participating in a Christchurch City Council-led composting initiative.

The initiative, Composting Food Packaging at Events Trial 2.0, sees waste diverted away from landfill and into composting and recycling streams.

“Consider cycling, walking, taking public transport or carpooling to the event. There will also be $6 car parking available," Linda says.

Major partners working with ChristchurchNZ to put on this year’s festival include Christchurch City Council, Bank of China, Novo, Asia New Zealand Foundation and Christchurch International Airport.

For more information or to plan your journey visit christchurchnz.com.

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