Month of Chinese New Year celebrations will begin once PM has ceremonially 'dotted the lion's eyes'
A month-long series of festive events to welcome the Year of the Horse will follow the Prime Minister's dotting of the lion's eyes today.
Chinese New Year is still two weeks away, but celebrations start this morning with the Chinese New Year Festival and Market at the ASB Showgrounds in Greenlane.
At 10am, Prime Minister John Key will officiate at an eye-dotting ceremony, also known as "dian jing", giving "life" to Chinese lions who will perform a dance to ward off evil and bring in good luck.
Under the 12-year-cycle Chinese calendar, or sheng xiao, the Year of the Snake will give way to the Wooden Horse on January 31.
Auckland feng shui master James Dong is predicting the year to be a challenging one for New Zealand, with possible natural upheaval and political changes.
But the presence of shung chun or "double spring" also promises more romance, marriages and babies.
"For some Kiwis, this will be the year to marry, move into new homes and have babies," Mr Dong said.
It is also extremely rare for the Chinese lantern festival - observed on the 15th day of the Lunar New Year and known as the Chinese Valentine's Day - to fall on the same day as Valentine's Day on February 14.
A highlight at today's market day is a "face changing" performance by a cultural group from China's Jilin province.
Next Saturday, Chinese Yu Opera will take centre stage with Chinese acrobats, traditional musicians and New Zealand's Got Talent finalist magician Andre Vegas at Lunar Fest 2014. The event at Trusts Arena in Henderson, organised by a local Asian media company, World TV, will end with a traditional fireworks display.
The Year of the Horse will be welcomed with a bang in downtown Auckland CBD as firecrackers are set off at the base of the Sky Tower at 7pm on New Year's Eve and New Year's Day.
The Chinese God of Fortune, Cai Shen, is also to make a spectacular appearance at SkyCity on January 31.
The Korean community, which also observes the Lunar New Year, is organising an event held to honour those aged 65 and over at Takapuna Grammar School on February 1.
"In our culture, New Year is a time to remember our seniors and thank them for their contributions," said spokeswoman Diane Lee.
The Lunar New Year is traditionally observed for 15 days, and the four-day Auckland Lantern Festival returns to Albert Park on February 13 to mark the end of the cultural festivities.
Tang Dynasty, one of China's oldest and best known heavy metal band, and the Shanghai Jiangzhou Drum Troupe will be headline acts at this year's event.
The festivities will close with a fireworks display from the Sky Tower at 10.30pm on February 16.
Welcoming the Year of the Wooden Horse
Chinese New Year Festival
• Today, 9.30am to 4pm, ASB Showgrounds, Greenlane.
• Market and food stalls, dragon and lion dances.
Lunar Fest 2014
• January 25, 3pm -11pm Trusts Arena, Henderson.
• Cultural performances, stalls and fireworks.
• January 30 and January 31, SkyCity.
God of Fortune
• January 31, Sky City. Meet Cai Shen, the Chinese God of Fortune.
Acrobats, drumming and lion dance
• Every weekend from January 30 to February 16, at SkyCity.
Auckland Lantern Festival
• February 13 to 16, Albert Park, Auckland City.