Winter Fest puts Queenstown in party mode
24 Jun 2009
Queenstown Winter Festival - the biggest winter party this side of the equator - lights up on Friday night (26.06.09).
Big crowds are expected for the opening party on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, featuring fireworks, live music, mulled wine, and the party atmosphere that Queenstown is famous for.
New Zealand Prime Minister John Key will ignite the festival flame that officially opens the 10-day festival.
Each year more than 60,000 people flock to New Zealand’s adventure capital for this international festival that’s now in its 35th year, and has a reputation for outrageous and unique events.
As well as a strong comedy and fun theme - which sees strangely attired people leaping into Lake Wakatipu’s freezing waters, and dogs and their owners capering on the ski slopes - the programme has more than 60 sport, art, music, comedy, food and wine events.
Festival events take place all over the region from Queenstown’s streets, to the lakeside, snow-covered mountain slopes, vineyard valleys and historic gold mining villages.
With some events already sold out and a full schedule of free community events, the 2009 festival was shaping up to be bigger than ever, festival director Sally Feinerman said.
Kiwi funny man Rhys Darby, best known as Murray in Flight of the Conchords, headlines the pre-festival sell-out American Express Great Comedy debate (29.06.09). Rhys Darby will join other entertainment celebrities Dai Henwood, Te Radar, Oliver Driver, Paul Ego, MC Jeremy Corbett, and local funny lady Emma Lange to debate the sensitive issue: ‘Should there be more Women on Top?’
Television comic Te Radar will present his award-winning comedy show Eating the Dog (1.07.09).
One of the hottest events on the festival calendar is the Mountain Scene Jazz Night (4.07.09). The 2009 line-up features Nathan Haines’ jazz, soul and dance music, jazz icon Frank Gibson, and three of New Zealand’s funkiest acts - Six60, The Little Bushmen and Cornerstone Roots.
Al Brown - one of New Zealand’s most celebrated chefs - will whip up gastronomic delights matched with local Gibbston Valley wines at Millbrook Resort’s award-winning The Clubhouse Restaurant (1.06.09). Brown, one half of Wellington’s Logan Brown restaurant, appears in TVNZ’s Hunger for the Wild television series.
Mountain and lake-side
Up in the snow, Coronet Peak will host mountain bikes, a dog derby and a day-long event billed as ‘mountain mayhem’.
Football fans will get some top-flight sporting action as the star-studded Wellington Phoenix takes on current Hyundai A-League champions the Melbourne Victory in an epic trans-Tasman clash (27.06.09).
Thousands of people take to Queenstown’s streets for the Mardi Gras (30.06.09), which provides a feast of food and wine stalls, street entertainment, live music and the colourful Mardi Gras parade.
Other downtown events include a parade (27.06.09), ‘70s retro aerobics (28.06.09), a teddy bears picnic, lakeside fun featuring a birdman, a drag race, and the glittering masquerade ball.
The 2009 American Express Queenstown Winter Festival runs from 26 June to 5 July.
Background: Queenstown Winter Festival
Queenstown’s Winter Festival was launched in 1975 as a local mid-winter celebration.
The first festival was a small-town Kiwi affair that included races in town and on the mountain, sweets for children, beers for grown-ups, a concert or two, and a town-wide ball. News spread and the following year party-goers from out-of-town came to join in the festivities.
Since then the Winter Festival has evolved into the southern hemisphere’s biggest winter party, bringing tens of thousands of visitors to town and injecting an estimated NZ$45 million back into the community.
Queenstown Winter Festival
Queenstown’s snow-capped mountains, crystal clear lake and crisp dry climate provide a classic alpine setting for winter and summer holidays.
With some of New Zealand’s best ski areas on the doorstep, and lots of bars, restaurants and boutique shopping in town, Queenstown is a snow-lovers paradise.
Snowfields open from early June, and a good season runs well into October. The Southern Lakes region has a stable climate and southern ski fields rarely close due to bad weather.
The ski fields offer a range of terrain suitable for all levels of skiers and snowboarders.
Queenstown, the birthplace of the bungy, is known as New Zealand’s adventure capital. Thrill seekers have a wide choice of activities from bungy to jet-boating, swinging across canyons and water sports on the lake and rivers.
Other recreation choices include top international golf courses, award-winning vineyards, walking tracks, luxury spas, shops, galleries, bars and restaurants.
NZ Regions: Queenstown
Rhys Darby in Queenstown
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|Queenstown Winter Festival starts with a bang on 26 June with a spectacular fireworks display at the opening party.