23 Feb 2018

Seeing thousands of people with smiles on their faces has kept Abe Fisher involved with Christchurch’s Chinese 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, it’s the crowd’s reactions that keep him coming back each year.

Abe Fisher with some of the lanterns that will feature in this year's festival.

Abe Fisher with some of the lanterns that will feature in this year's Chinese Lantern Festival.

“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 said.

This year the popular festival is being held on Saturday 10 March and Sunday 11 March, from 6 to 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 ensuring this year’s Christchurch Lantern Festival has something for everyone.

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. 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,” Abe said.

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 said while the festival is undoubtedly a magical event, it was also a celebration of Chinese culture, performance, art, business, tourism and education.

“The festival has also been embraced as part of New Zealand culture now – the Christchurch Lantern Festival is a must see and do and something we can all enjoy together.”

She encouraged people to think about how they will travel to the festival, which is a sustainable event using only compostable or recyclable products.

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

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.