Here in Queenstown we are well known for our crazy antics. Want to do a bungy? No problem we have three! Want to a skydive? Of course… we have two different locations in Queenstown to jump above snow capped mountains all year round. Paragliding, Ziplining, Canyon swings, Rafting, Jet boats, Lord of the Ring trips and more. We love our growing town, year on year more and more activities and tours seem to be starting up in Queenstown, and why the hell not!
We have beautiful scenery all year round, whether you are sunbathing on our lakefront “beach” in the summer or wrapping up to hit the slopes in Winter. Also with nightlife to die for, it’s no wonder so many people come to see us every year. But the most iconic festival, event, fun filled 10 days that we have gracing our town every year is Queenstown Winter festival! This is what kicks off our winter, it’s what makes Queenstown, Queenstown!
If you are ever to visit Queenstown one thing that you will see is how much the locals love their town. And what better way to celebrate it, and winter, than throwing a festival every year. Winterfest came from the ripe old time of 1975, when a few locals got together that really wanted to celebrate Winter in Queenstown and have a huge party to kick off the season. That’s exactly what they did. They organised races up on the mountains, had a few beers for the adults and sweet things for the kids, some live music spread across a couple of days for locals and visitors all to enjoy. And my oh my, talk about Queenstown growing, now we expect 45,000 people each year to kick off Winter with us.
The beauty of the Winter festival is that it’s for everyone. These days, it is a 10 day festival which caters for adults, kids, locals and visitors. Something for everyone! So what exactly takes place during our Winter Festival, which is now renowned as the Southern Hemisphere’s biggest winter celebration?
Every year it changes slightly, some of the same events but we like to mix it up and throw in some new things too!
Of course the first night kicks off with the Opening party at Earnslaw park. Live music to get everyone in the spirit from early evening and a firework show out on Lake Wakatipu that would put New Year’s Eve to shame. Live music is a constant during the festival, the stage is kept at Earnslaw park throughout the 10 days. We have comedy nights, comedy debates, street parades, markets, pop-up caravans to keep you going with nibbles and coffee, quiz nights and seminars. There are 4 ice hockey games during the festival with Queenstown’s own Southern Stampede taking on the challengers (always makes for a great night), international DJ’s keep the nights going in many of Queenstown’s bars, and there’s even a masquerade ball.
But what is a Winter Festival without snow you say, don’t you worry there is plenty of action happening up the mountains too. We have the hilarious event, that is a bit of a favourite here, Mountain Bikes on Ice, grab your bike and head up coronet peak. If bikes are not your thing then grab your suitcase instead, for a bit of Mountain Mayhem. Hitting the slopes with a suitcase… nothing better!! Night skiing up Coronet Peak is not to be missed and an amazing Slopstyle event to finish the week off!
There is a hype in the air, the buzz is infectious and keeps going all throughout the festival. It is an amazing time of year in Queenstown. We are here to get everyone involved, to show everyone what Queenstown is about. We are lucky enough to live here, so we are going to make sure you have the best time of your life when you get here. Forget about the beach holidays, this year, because this is where you want to be. Have a beer, chat to the locals, get up to Coronet Peak, listen to the music and watch the fireworks, and remember that WINTER STARTS HERE!
Check out our guide to Skiing and Snowboarding in Queenstown and Wanaka here.
Queenstown Winter Festival 2018 Guide
When? Weekend of 23 & 24 June 2018 (exact dates still to be announced).
You’ll see Queenstown transform into a winter wonderland! Make sure you book your accommodation early if you’re heading this way to experience the festival as Queenstown gets very busy!
2018 event details have not yet been announced – but to give you a taster of what’s in store see below for the types of things that normally happen!
American Express Open Party and Fireworks: Kicking off the festival with a BANG, head on down to Earnslaw Park from 5:30PM to catch a fantastic fireworks display over Lake Wakatipu. Entry is FREE and you can catch loads of live music, DJs and enjoy some yummy treats from the food stalls.
SKYCITY Street Performers: The main streets of Queenstown will be entertained by street performers every day of the festival between 5:00PM and 6:00PM. Winter parade? Fun!
American Express Winter Wonderland Ice Rink: Head on down to Village Green any day of the festival between 10:00AM and 10:00PM daily and enjoy the ice rink. Entry is $20 for Adults.
Rekorderlig POP UP Swedish Bar: Every day of the festival Rekorderlig are hosting a pop up Swedish bar from 4:00PM – 9:00PM on Marine Parade. Hot Cider, Yummy Treats and a Swedish atmosphere.
Winter Evening Sessions: Enjoy live music and a great atmosphere at Village Green every festival night from 5:00PM – 7:00PM. Entry is FREE!
Pig and Whistle Festival Challenge: Every day the streets of Queenstown and the lakefront will play host to a number of crazy and entertaining races and challenges such as the Jucy Undy 500 and the Auckland Airport Suitcase Race.
Creative Queenstown Arts & Crafts Markets: The arts and crafts market is a great little spot to check out over 40 local stalls. Free Entry. Open 9:00AM – 3:00PM.
Mountain Bikes on Snow: Held at Coronet Peak Ski Field, you can watch the annual Mountain Bikes on Snow Race. Entry to watch is free and transfers to the ski field can be organised from Queenstown.
Ice Hockey: There are four Ice Hockey games on for show at Queenstown’s Ice Arena throughout the festival. Tickets are $25 – $30.
American Express Street Parade: Held at midday, be amazing as local businesses come together to put on a hilarious street parade! Entry is FREE!
UE Dodgeball Championship: Held at Earnslaw Park (free to watch) there is a HUGE annual Dodgeball Championship. Starts at 12:00PM.
Night Skiing Opening Night: Every Winter Coronet Peak Ski Field host Night Skiing on Friday nights! DJs, Lights, Bar, Restaurant – it’s awesome! Open until 9:00PM. Lift Passes, Ski Passes and Transfers can be booked at Nomads Queenstown.
Slopestyle: check out the local talent and head to the Remarkables Ski Field to see some of the country’s best snowboarders and skiers take on the terrain park. Free to watch but a ski and lift pass will be needed to access the terrain park.
These are our top picks for the Queenstown Winter Festival and there is SO much more going on – comedy nights, party nights, dive in movies and more! For more information check out the Queenstown Winterfest website.
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