South Island Lantern Festival
Bring along your family and friends to experience Chinese culture in Christchurch 22 - 24 February 2019.
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Ultimate guide to the 2019 South Island Lantern Festival

From craft vendor information to parking tips, read this for everything you need to know about the South Island Lantern Festival.

Excitement is building for the biggest free public event on the Christchurch calendar, the South Island Lantern Festival, kicking off on 22 February. Are you going?? Exciting right?!

Only 10 days away, this is not the festival you remember. Expect a new experience maximising our vibrant central city and Avon River Precinct. Covering a larger area than ever before, with new lanterns along the celebrated City Promenade, get ready for a stunning night out. The route runs from the Bridge of Remembrance through to Victoria Square and The Commons.

A range of bars and restaurants are within walking distance from the festival. Check out New Regent St for a cheeky bevvy at The Last Word or The Institution, or step into the Crowne Plaza for a cocktail and bar snacks. Another top tip for the early bird is a table along The Terrace to take in the glittery sights, although get in quick as these will get snapped up fast.

Finished up with the lanterns? Why not stroll back towards EntX for dessert and a movie. What a city it is that we call home!

Top tips

Snap a selfie with a giant panda! Located in The Commons, this inflated behemoth will no doubt be the star of the show on social media.

Fancy winning a free trip? Check out the China Southern Airlines stall at the festival for your chance to win return flights to China. They’ll be easy to find, their lantern is seven metres long and three metres high! Check out our festival must dos.


Unlike previous years, food vendors will be dotted along the entire festival route, spreading out your eating experience as well as dispersing crowds.

Clusters of vendors will be located in The Commons, Victoria Square, at the corner of Worcester Blvd and Oxford Tce, and in the riverside park on the west bank of Avon River between Hereford and Cashel streets.

Environmental impact is a big consideration for any large-scale public event. With that in mind, all food packaging will be compostable and recyclable. Water stations will let you fill up your own bottles, and places to put your waste will be dotted at regular intervals around the festival area. Check out more about this years food vendors.


Two dedicated stages and roving performers will ensure a party vibe throughout the festival, while craft vendors will give you the chance to interact with Chinese culture and take something home.

A stage will be set up on the west bank of the Avon River between Hereford and Cashel streets, with the best viewing to be had on The Terrace steps. A second stage will be set up across the river from Victoria Square, near the Town Hall. Check out the performance programme.

Parking and transport

With more than 40,000 people expected to flood the streets over the three nights, consider your best way to get into town.

As always, your best bet for a stress-free evening is to walk, cycle or bus into town. The Bus Interchange is only five minutes walk from the Bridge of Remembrance and the southern entrance to the festival. The city centre is flush with on-street and paid parking. Christchurch City Council operates a real-time parking space tracker, so check this before diving into the four avenues.

Several roads will be closed on each day of the festival – Friday 22 February until Sunday 24 February – predominantly around the Avon River and Victoria Square.

From 3pm until 11pm on festival days, parts of Cashel St, Oxford Tce, Worcester Blvd, Gloucester St and Armagh St will be closed.

From 5pm until 11pm on festival days, parts of Colombo St and Hereford St will be closed. Find out more about road closures.

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