Queenstown Winter Festival

The American Express Queenstown Winter Festival started life nearly 4 decades ago. Back then, a group of locals decided when winter came around, that was a plausible enough excuse to kick things off with a celebration. The very first Queenstown Winter Festival thus took shape. 

Ever since that first festival, the event has grown to such an extent that these days the festival draws in excess of 45,000 people during the 10 day event. In fact, it's the biggest winter party in the southern hemisphere!

What can you expect?

The programme varies from year to year, but you can expect a Mardis Gras parade, a ball, plenty of live music, dining events, comedy shows and lots of fun competitions on the slopes. You can also enjoy an ice rink smack in the middle of town in the 'village green'. 

The opening night kicks off on a Friday and is welcomed by a huge fireworks display that marks the start of the festival. The whole week is then one big party to compliment the huge array of activities on offer around the town. In fact there are around 50 events to attract your attention, many of which are free! And of course there’s the skiing! 

When does festival begin?

The ‘Winter Is Here’ celebration typically starts late June.

What about the skiing?

There are two skiing fields in Queenstown. The Remarkables and Coronet Peak, which is closer to town. About 45 minutes’ drive away is Cardrona ski resort and further out in Wanaka, there’s Treble Cone. Read our Queenstown skiing and Wanaka skiing guides to get the lowdown on these skiing resorts.

What else can you do while you’re here?

Well, this is the adventure capital of the world so there’s no end to what you can do. Check out our regional guides for information on the different areas of Queentown and the nearby places worth visiting. We’ve also a things to do guide, restaurant guide, nightlife guide and wine guide to give you some inspiration.

What about this year's event?

For information on the programme of events for this year's Queenstown Winter Festival, you should check out the official event website.