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Queenstown Winter Festival – winter starts here!
Dubbed the Southern Hemisphere’s biggest winter party, the multi award-winning festival (June 22 – 1 July 2012) is a highlight of Queenstown’s event calendar and attracts an estimated 45,000 people to celebrate the official start of the resort’s winter season.
The festival sports a reputation for being fun, outrageous and a must for locals and visitors alike. In fact major Australian website Yahoo!7Travel ranked the Queenstown Winter Festival amongst the world’s top 10 ‘must-see’ festivals, rating it higher than famous events like the New Orleans Jazz Festival, Pamplona’s Running of the Bulls, Oktoberfest, and the Sydney and Melbourne festivals.
About the festival
Winter Festival started in 1975 when a group of locals decided the start of winter would be the perfect excuse for a party. They organised some mountain races, a couple of concerts and a ball and the whole thing snowballed from there.
Fast forward 38 years and the festival has grown into a much-loved celebration which heralds the start of winter and launches the region’s ski season in style. Tens of thousands of locals and visitors take to the streets and ski slopes each year for 10 days of non-stop fun with on-mountain action, street parties, fireworks, live concerts, comedy, free family fun, and a great mix of internationally acclaimed performers and home-grown acts.
To ensure the festival is accessible to all there’s a strong focus on including a range of free events each year. In 2012 out of the 50 Winter Festival events, more than half are free to attend.
2012 festival programme
New international events this year include the New Zealand movie premiere of ‘Ice Age 4: Continental Drift’ and a rare performance from New Zealand comedic export Flight of the Conchords (Oscar winner Bret McKenzie and co-star Jermaine Clement).
Festival-goers will also get the chance to be part of a live studio audience for TV3’s infamous ‘7 Days’ comedy satire show which will be pre-recorded at Queenstown’s Memorial Hall and broadcast to the nation.
Following a successful debut last year, the ice rink on the Village Green will once again provide a magical downtown hub and offer public skating sessions throughout the festival.
As per tradition, the festival will open with a bang – thousands of people are expected to congregate along the lakefront in downtown Queenstown for the spectacular opening party and fireworks display.
Festival fun and festivities will continue throughout the week and into the final weekend with mountain mayhem’ on the slopes of Coronet Peak, the wacky birdman competition where people create amazing costumes and attempt to fly across the freezing waters of Lake Wakatipu, the iconic dog derby, ice hockey, charity boxing, night skiing, cyclocross and slopestyle.
The festival will conclude on Sunday 1 July with the spectacular Mardi Gras, a big street party which celebrates the diversity of Queenstown’s community.
For the full programme please visit www.winterfestival.co.nz.
It’s a serious business
The festival is a big earner for the Queenstown region - an economic impact and sustainability report commissioned after the 2010 event confirmed 30,000 visitors spent an estimated NZ$50 million during the 10-day event.
The report also showed that most international visitors are from Australia - many coming to the festival as part of their trans-Tasman skiing holidays.