Tuesday, April 23, 2024

COVID lights out for Auckland’s largest cultural event

Auckland City Council’s largest cultural event – the 2022 Lantern Festival – has been cancelled following New Zealand’s move to the Red setting of the COVID-19 Protection Framework.

The event, which was scheduled for 10–13 February, can only be delivered under the Framework’s Orange or Green settings, Council said in a statement.

With the uncertainty of how long the country will remain at Red, the decision has been made to cancel the event, it said.

Auckland Mayor, Phil Goff acknowledged the disappointment of the event no longer going ahead.

“The Auckland Lantern Festival is New Zealand’s largest cultural celebration, and a key component of the Auckland event calendar, especially for the Auckland-Chinese community,” he said.

“After the cancellation due to COVID-19 of the 2020 and 2021 festivals and other major Chinese New Year events scheduled for early next month, this year’s event was highly anticipated, and we are disappointed to have to cancel it again.

“However, the safety of our communities has to come first, and given that the Omicron variant is now circulating in Auckland, cancelling the Lantern Festival at this time is the right and responsible decision.”

Mayor Goff instead encouraged Aucklanders to visit the Auckland Lantern Festival 2022 digital programme at aucklandnz.com/lantern.

From 1 February this site will feature content specially created for celebrating the 2022 Chinese New Year and the Year of the Tiger.

Auckland Unlimited Director of Arts, Entertainment and Events, Richard Clarke says Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland has been enjoying a brilliant summer of events, and it is a major blow to not be able to round out the season with the Auckland Lantern Festival.

“Our festival staff, performers, stallholders, sponsors and everyone involved in the planning were buzzing at bringing back the festival after a two-year absence,” he said.

“Their work, dedication and passion for the event have been monumental, and I would like to acknowledge them all.”

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