Many Aucklanders look forward to The Lantern Festival each year. Perhaps it's the everchanging lantern characters lighting up Albert Park late into the night that attracts them. Hundreds of beautiful lanterns - including brand new designs from China - help to bring Chinese New Year celebrations to a glowing finale. Last year's flock of "sheep" and "sheepdog" positioned beneath an old oak were a particular hit. Another big attraction is the food, its fragrance wafting into the park from Princes St, where there's lots of it to tempt spectators. This year's Lantern Festival ushers in the Chinese zodiac's Year of the Rat with far more than food and illumination. Traditional music and dance will vow to wow the crowds, too. Among the line-up of overseas and local performers will be Stephanie Lin's Chinese folk dance group, Yun- Tzu Cheng-Chueh Association. Taiwan-born Aucklander Lin says performing at festivals is "a great chance for us to forge understanding between the cultures". She has five teams of 10 students drawn from Parnell District School dancing at the festival who've been practicing hard for their performances. "I love getting all the students from different backgrounds together dressed up in little Chinese costumes," she says.
"You have to get every part of your body right. You have to remember your eyes, fingers, toes, knees, facial expression, listening to the music, remember the steps and work together as a team." For a colourful cultural experience, the Lantern Festival's makes a great walk in the park.
Auckland Lantern Festival, Albert Park, Auckland. Feb 22-24, 5pm-10.30pm. Free entry. Details, see www.aucklandcity.govt.nz
By Sharu Delilkan 6th February 2008 http://www.theaucklander.co.nz/living/news/dancing-in-the-year-of-the-rat/3762802/