Auckland’s Lantern Festival is set to return next month after four years of cancellations in a new venue.

The festival, the biggest cultural event in the region, will bring hundreds of lanterns to the Manukau Sports Bowl from February 22 to February 25, celebrating the imminent Year of the Dragon.

The Year of the Dragon is a significant one in the Chinese zodiac calendar as it is represented by the only mythological creature in the zodiac associated with power, luck and prosperity.

Forty-four street stalls will sell a range of food from different cultures, and 19 retail stalls will provide craft and gift merchandise.

A newly commissioned 30m handmade dragon lantern will be on display beside the main stage, alongside previously commissioned lanterns for the cancelled festivals in 2020, 2021, 2022, and 2023.

The return of the festival has been much anticipated by Aucklanders, said head of major events at Tātaki Auckland Unlimited Chris Simpson.

“This BNZ Auckland Lantern Festival is such an important part of Auckland’s cultural life, and it’s been missed by Aucklanders and visitors alike.

“Last year we were tantalisingly close to holding the festival at this new venue, and we know Aucklanders are more than ready to experience the festival’s range of food stalls, cultural performances and displays this year.”

BNZ senior brand partnerships manager Kim Ravenhall said the bank was “thrilled” to be a part of bringing back the Lantern Festival.

“We’re proud to support an event that brings people together from all walks of life to celebrate the rich diversity of cultures in Aotearoa.”