15 Feb 2016

Monkeys and dragons fire up capital

10:51 pm on 15 February 2016

The Year of the Fire Monkey got off to a spectacular start with a sizzling hot Valentine's Day in the capital.

A crowd of thousands packed the walkway to Frank Kitts Park on Wellington's waterfront for the annual event, which is backed by the Asian Events Trust and Wellington City Council.

The festival started 15 years ago with a small audience on Courtenay Place and has grown to a two-day celebration, drawing an estimated crowd of 35,000.

Audiences watched international performers and dancers from Xiemen, Wellington's sister city in China, and two 'dragons' from the Wellington Chinese Sports and Cultural Centre.

An indoor market filled the air in TSB Arena with mouth-watering aromas from Asian foods, with local and international artists peforming on the arena's main stage.

The animal for this lunar year is the monkey, marking a full 12-year cycle in the Chinese Zodiac since the last year of the monkey in 2004.

Witty and intelligent but mischievous, monkeys are thought to be a mercurial sign - and it is thought to be a good year to break free and take calculated risks.