Queenstown in New Zealand is a centre of activity at all times of the year, and the wintertime action is just beginning as ski season kicks off
all over New Zealand
. Snow sports are just one piece of the puzzle however, as the Winter Festival rolls into town at the end of this week to entertain locals and visitors alike with a range of events, competitions and entertainment.
2015 brings the 41st incarnation of the Festival, and over the decades it has been perfected into New Zealand’s biggest celebration of winter. Over ten days, the community buzzes with revellers and welcomes the snow and cold mardi-gras style.
This year’s festival has a jam-packed program. The whole ten days will see skaters on the American Express Winter Wonderland Ice Rink, Sony Mobile evening live music sessions and the Spark hangout truck in Earnslaw Park, an atomic pop-up caravan cafe on the Village Green, Pig and Whistle whacky challenges and a generally celebratory atmosphere across the whole town.
Beyond these staples, there is a schedule for each day with a huge range of things to see and do. Here are our top ten highlights:
The American Express Opening Party and Fireworks happens on Friday the 19th of June. This is always a memorable show, and will feature a band of top street performers from all over the world. Food stalls and hot drinks mean you can make an evening of it.
The Creative Queenstown Arts and Crafts Market takes place in Earnslaw Park on the 20th, 21st, 26th and 27th of June. It features more than 40 stalls selling all kinds gifts and art.
iHeart Radio Day on the Bay takes place on the 21st of June and begins with Birdman competitors launching their contraptions off the wharf and into the chilly lake. More entertainment includes jetboat sprints, undie runs and a dance battle.
Brendhan Lovegrove leads a line-up of fabulous comedians for Wednesday Lates at the Skycity Casino on the 24th of June.
Canine companions can take part in the DB Export Dog Derby and Dog Barking competition on the 25th of June. The derby will be up on the slopes of Coronet Peak, while the barking happens in Earnslaw Park.
Night skiing with Ultimate Ears at Coronet Peak on the 26th of June is a fun and festive way to hit the slopes. DJ, giveaways and a bar open late make it a fun night out.
Mountain Mayhem is another one for the snow bunnies. Happening on the 27th of June at Coronet Peak, it includes a suitcase race, a dash for cash and more fun events.
A Loco Night Out (taking place at Loco) on the 26th of June is a highlight of the Winter Festival nightlife, featuring Mikael from ZM’s Ministry of Sound sessions.
The 27th of June also brings the glamorous Masquerade en Blanc ball at the Queenstown Memorial Centre. Tickets have now sold out, but if you can pick one up somewhere you are in for a sophisticated evening of food, wine and a show.
The Auckland Airport Community Carnival on the 28th of June is all about celebrating Queenstown. Taking place all over the streets of the town, it includes all kinds of street performers, entertainment, food stalls and the rest.
Get in quick
Want to experience the Queenstown Winter Festival in 2015? With the festivities kicking off so soon, you will need to get in quick to book some accommodation and a car rental in Queenstown
. Having your own set of rented wheels is the best way to get around, especially with the events spread far and wide across the town and the surrounding mountains.
You can pick up tickets for the various events and more information on the Winter Festival
website. Enjoy the country’s biggest wintertime party! In case you have some time to spare, start a road trip around the South Island visiting locations from Invercargill
. Consider extending your trip to the beautiful settlement of Nelson
and exploring nearby areas including Golden Bay and the Marlborough Sounds.