The Queenstown Winter Festival is one of the biggest festivals of its kind in the world, and tens of thousands of people flock to New Zealand every winter to witness the festivities live.
There’s a lot to do at the festival itself, and around Queenstown too. If you’re planning a trip to New Zealand, you ought to go for this festival! If you don’t have reasons to go there, The Sherp has 8 for you!
1. It goes on for 10 days
Yes, that alone should coax you into attending this. The Queenstown Winter Festival is about 10 fun-filled days of endless celebration, stretched over two weekends in one of the best tourist hubs of New Zealand. You could stay on for the entire duration, or attend only a part of it. It’s all up to you. You won’t miss out on a thing.
2. There’s something different to do everyday
The extensive (and endless) list of activities spread out across 10 days will leave you in awe. Just to give you an idea of what we’re talking about, we’ll list some events from each day for you: on 24th June, there’s an opening party and fireworks, followed by an arts & crafts market, frisbee golf and mountain biking on the 25th. June 26 will have some skinning and a comedy debate, June 27 will have a turkey feast and a quiz, and the day after that will have a painting & wine class and a mistletoe cruise. On June 29, there are contests for dogs (more on that later), and on the 30th, a BBQ-cum-Instameet. The UE Dodgeball Championship will be on the 31st, along with the official opening of night skiing and a winter boat party. The 1st of July will have a Skycity Ball, along with a ‘Dive-In’ movie, and the festival will wrap up on the 2nd with snow games for kids and the grand finale that is the Auckland Airport Community Carnival. This is definitely not the entire list of activities at the festival; there’s much, much more. Feeling like going already?
3. It’s for all age groups
(Courtesy: Jacabeth Bartlett-McBride)
It doesn’t matter if you’re 8 or 80; the Queenstown Winter Festival will have something to cater to your age group. It’s this giant city carnival that has everything. QWF is a very family-oriented festival, yet it retains that Mardi Gras vibe. It’s a proper carnival that can be enjoyed by everyone, and on such a large scale, it’s quite a feat to pull off.
4. The winters in New Zealand are action-packed
There’s a reason tourists flock to New Zealand for the winters: winter sports and recreation! Queenstown Winter Festival has its share of skiing, cable cars and mountain biking, and the city itself is the adventure capital of New Zealand. Outside the festival, there are options like bungee jumping, navigating gorges on a speedboat and swinging across canyons. There are several options from local licensed bungee jumping centres. The snow’s right there to greet you!
5. The variety of events is worth mentioning
From snow mountain biking, a street parade and a comedy debate to a Jucy Undy 500 (a race on a crazy obstacle course in your undies), ice hockey and a mini marathon, the variety is endless. A ‘Dive-In’ movie theatre was mentioned earlier; you can literally dive into a pool and watch a movie; they have a screening for Inside Out in this case. There’s a suitcase race on July 2 if anyone’s interested. The variety will leave you in awe.
6. There are contests for dogs too
As we mentioned earlier, the QWF is dog-friendly too. Their annual DB Dog Derby is one of their oldest events in the history of the festival; it’s more than 40 years old now. You can run and slide down the slopes with your dogs at Coronet Peak. Also, there’s a Dog Barking contest too. The rules are simple: if a dog doesn’t bark on cue, their owner has to get down on all fours and bark on the dog’s behalf. Works for us.
7. There’s plenty of options to eat and drink
As expected from a big city festival, there isn’t a dearth in options to eat and drink. There’s a turkey feast to celebrate Midwinter, along with an event that brings wine and chocolate together. Pig & Whistle pub has beer jugs worth $8 for the entire duration of the festival. As mentioned earlier, there’s a bonfire BBQ happening, along with some espresso martini by Little Blackwood on the Steamer Wharf. Tickets for the Skycity Ball include a bubbles on arrival, a delicious three course meal and four bottles of wine (per table) from Central Otago’s Gibbston Valley Wines. The Auckland City Community Carnival will have plenty of food stalls to check out.
8. Most of the activities are free of cost
Very few events are paid. Most of the fun activities are free of cost, or really cheap and affordable. This works for everyone, as there are a lot of live performances by musicians to check out at QWF. It also helps that a lot of sponsors are on board for QWF; American Express is the main sponsor, and there are several others like iHeart Radio, Auckland Airport, Ultimate Ears and some more.
The Queensland Winter Festival is one big carnival that you must attend at least once in your life. It’s packed with a variety of events and live acts, and these reasons should be more than enough to get on the next flight to New Zealand!