Last weekend I went to the Chinese Lantern Festival in the city. The Lantern festival is supposed to be celebrated on the fifteenth day of the first month of the lunisolar year to mark the end of Lunar New Year celebrations. Here in Auckland, it’s a long weekend full of food, stalls and performances.
I haven’t been to this event in years (last time I came here was our first year in New Zealand haha) but since it’s my Chinese zodiac’s year (the horse!) I thought it’d be nice to check it out this year.
So many lanterns. So many food stalls. And…so many people. It’s a bit shocking to be in that crowd and a lot of people thought that way too. You don’t know how many times I’ve heard “It feels like we’re back in [insert Asian country here]“
So my friend Tina kind of thought lantern festival in the summer was weird because back home, in China, she said lantern festival would also be accompanied with winter games for the children. They also usually eat candied hawthorn on a stick (bing tang hulu) during those winter times. We don’t usually have hawthorn in New Zealand but I got really excited with the toffeed strawberries. They were refrigerated so the sugar stayed hard and when you bit into it, there’s crunch and then there’s the cold, cold strawberry softness. So refreshing.
Another curious thing we ate was skewered squid. Chewy with a delicious sauce. I liked wiggling the stick and pretending it was alive. A lady saw me and and with wide eyes went “omg what is that?!” Hahah good times. Almost wanted to say I had a tentacle stuck in my teeth.
There are other non-Chinese food stalls around that sold chips and corndogs and whatnot.. (seeing the other people eating corndogs during the lantern festival struck me as kinda funny tho) We even found a Filipino food stall. There was adobo and the usual stuff but that’s kinda hard to eat when on the go so I suggested the Filipino BBQ instead.
After enjoying the food we stopped eating for a bit and looked at the performances and the other stuff in the park.
girls dancing a Mongolian dance
And this wonderful band playing classical music. They played this awesome lively song at the end and my friend Tina was singing to it.
Somewhere in the park there was a martial arts performance and this dude with a getup that looks a bit more fancy than Mulan’s war attire. I was hoping to find a fortuneteller somewhere but I missed him in the giant crowd. Anyways fortune untold, it was time to eat again hahah..so we thought about testing our patience by waiting in line for[forever] the tornado potato. I know it’s just potato but it looked so cool. When we finally got our own you can see everyone’s envious eyes hahah. Mine turned out too salty so I had to shake off the whole thing to properly enjoy it. My friend’s one turned out better and was crispier. Like spirals of potato crisps on a stick. Awesome.
Happy face = food face
And because we couldn’t resist eating what other people are eating we also had ice cream in a watermelon. By this time, it was getting dark and the people have quadrupled. The ice cream was melting before we could find somewhere to eat it. There was no breathing space where there was before. So we just stood in a random space in the middle of everyone. So we ate our treat and stood like rocks in the middle of a steady stream. nom nom nomss. Yep it’s like being in Asia hahah.
Who knew all this was tiring. We wanted to go home already but not before seeing the lanterns in the night time. You can even see sort of behind the scenes of the food stalls.
That was my little adventure during the Chinese lantern festival here in Auckland. I think I’ll come again next time. My other friends stayed late into the night and eventually found the fortuneteller. Bummer. Hahha. Really wanted to try going to one. Oh well. If you’ve been to the festival (in Auckland or anywhere else), what stuff did you do?