The winter season in Queenstown is synonymous to those in the know with buzz and energy. The buzz is no more keenly felt than in the weeks leading up to the region’s ski field’s tantalizing announcements of opening dates as the surrounding mountains get their first coats of icing sugar like snow. Locals pull their snow gear out from storage, snow lovers from everywhere compulsively follow snow reports and the ‘will it be the best season ever’ conversations in local cafes tease everyone into a state of anticipation.
Meanwhile a team of locals and volunteers are working like Santa’s elves, ignoring the call of the annual rituals to put the final touches on Queenstown’s annual start of winter celebration, the Queenstown Winter Festival. Since 1975 the Festival has been the kooky, cool and crazy pressure valve that releases the build-up and lets the world know that ‘winter starts here, so come on down and join the party’.
The Real Journeys Queenstown Winter Festival is New Zealand, and some suggest the Southern Hemisphere’s, biggest celebration of winter. Held over four days in late June, more than 45,000 people converge on Queenstown at venues from the lake shore to the mountain tops. Nothing is too crazy and no superlatives are left untested. The Festival puts up its marquee over a broad collection of events that include live music, competitive mountain exploits, comedy, fireworks, culinary creativeness, and polar lake plunging.