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Ambassador Wang Lutong attends the 17th Auckland Lantern Festival Opening Ceremony

    On the evening of February 19, the opening ceremony of the 17th Auckland Lantern Festival was held at the Auckland Domain. Thousands of lanterns lit up the park, creating a spectacular view. China's Ambassador to New Zealand Wang Lutong, New Zealand Minister of Youth Affairs Nikki Kaye, Auckland Mayor Len Brown, Asia New Zealand Foundation Executive Director Simon Draper, Labour Party representative Phil Goff and other guests attended the lantern festival opening ceremony and delivered speeches. Chinese Consul General in Auckland Xu Erwen was invited to attend the ceremony. The guests and an audience of many thousands of people gathered together to celebrate the Chinese New Year, enjoying the beautiful lanterns, excellent performances and the fantastic scenery.


    The opening ceremony commenced with a traditional Chinese dragon and lion dance, which brought a warm and festive atmosphere to the occasion. All guest speakers showed off their Chinese, making best efforts to deliver festive greetings in Chinese. Ambassador Wang noted that the Lantern Festival had become a notable annual event across the country. This reflected China's close bilateral relations with New Zealand, a love of Chinese culture on the part of the New Zealand people, as well as New Zealand's cultural diversity. In a climactic moment, Ambassador Wang Lutong and Minister Nikki Kaye jointly announced the opening of the Lantern Festival in Chinese and English.


    With traditional Chinese culture at the centre, this year's Lantern Festival created a great deal of atmosphere with the lantern show, theatrical performances and New Year festival fairs. Thousands of bright lanterns lit up the Domain, creating a beautiful scene. Many visitors took photos walking among the lanterns; with large crowds attracted to the snack stalls, New Year merchandise stalls, the traditional commodity market, the traditional handicraft exhibits, Karaoke area and Chinese martial arts demonstration site, where they were able to experience Chinese cultural and recreational activities.

    The Auckland Lantern Festival is jointly organised by the Auckland City Council and Asia New Zealand Foundation. This year marks the 17th Lantern Festival, with the first launched in 2000. The scale of the Lantern Festival continues to expand. The three-day Lantern Festival is expected to attract hundreds of thousands of visitors for sightseeing and shopping. The Lantern Festival has become New Zealand's largest foreign cultural festival event.

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