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Snow and crowds in spades for the American Express Queenstown Winter Festival opening weekend

June 24, 2013 Ski No Comments Email Email

AEQWF 2013 3rd place Winner Nicolas Bouttimx Competing at  Mophie Mountain Bikes On Snow Competition on Coronet Peak for the American Express Queenstown Winter FestivalThousands flocked to the streets of central Queenstown today (Saturday 22 June) to enjoy a number of free events on Day Two of the American Express Queenstown Winter Festival.

The annual American Express Festival Street Parade treated festival-goers of all ages to an impressive procession of 36 community, local business and corporate floats that included everything from costumed characters, to cheering school children, rafts, mini jet boats, tuk tuks and stilt walkers.

Festival Manager Lisa Buckingham said that the family-friendly street parade was “always a winner” with adults and children taking part in a spectacular display of music, colour and fun.

Aidan (10) Tai (6) Avie (6) Qtn Primary Float

AEQWF 2013 3rd place Winner Nicolas Bouttimx Competing at Mophie Mountain Bikes On Snow Competition on Coronet Peak for the American Express Queenstown Winter Festival

“It’s always nice to see the local community put on a great show and it reminds everyone what a tight community Queenstown is,” she said.

“So much time and effort had gone into the floats and the school entries really stood out as a hit with the crowd.”

Queenstown Primary School won the coveted Best Community Float with a theme of Horizons and AJ Hackett Bungy took out the title of Best Business Float with a celebration of their 25 years.

Before the parade, the Frontrunner Golden Mile featured some of the resort’s fittest athletes sprinting their way around the streets in the hope of posting the fastest time.

A Festival feature for just the second year, both men’s and women’s events were fiercely contested. Local sportsman Oska Baynes won the men’s division completing the course in 4.33 minutes. The women’s event was taken out by 15year old Emma Smith in 6.04 minutes.

AEQWF 2013 MR3 ringing positive vibes for the tough conditions at the Mophie Mountain Bikes on Snow up Coronet Peak for the American Express Queenstown Winter Festival-2

AEQWF 2013 MR3 ringing positive vibes for the tough conditions at the Mophie Mountain Bikes on Snow up Coronet Peak for the American Express Queenstown Winter Festival-2

Between snow flurries, the Auckland Airport Family Fun Day at Earnslaw Park was once again a hit with families enjoying face painting, the Jelly Belly Snow Slide, a bouncy castle and other family friendly activities.

On-mountain action took off literally, at Mophie Mountain Bikes on Snow at Coronet Peak. Competitors flew through the air and into snow drifts on the snowy slalom course. Local mountain bikers Jono Hall won the men’s event while Harriet ‘Bob’ Latchem took the women’s title.

Racing first on a tandem then a mountain bike, multi-sport veteran Steve Gurney said that events such as Mophie Mountain Bikes on Snow stood out to him as embodying the spirit of Queenstown and the American Express Queenstown Winter Festival.

“People are really open to new stuff, wacky stuff, and a crazy event like this embodies Queenstown’s love of celebration, sport and fun.”

Tonight local teens will be ‘scared witless’ by the first ever Fright Night Pool Party at Alpine Aqualand. The inaugural event was thought up by local Wakatipu High students who will watch the infamous ‘80s horror movie ‘Jaws’ while they socialise in the heated pools or enjoy the hydroslide and pool-side beanbags.

AWQWF 2013 MR3 Stilt walkers and snow featured in the annual American Express Street Parade on the opening weekend of the American Express Queenstown Winter Festival

AWQWF 2013 MR3 Stilt walkers and snow featured in the annual American Express Street Parade on the opening weekend of the American Express Queenstown Winter Festival

A highly-anticipated grudge match on ice later this evening will see local ice hockey heros the Southern Stampede take on the Canterbury Red Devils. Stampede captain and former Ice Black Simon Glass said that playing in front of the home crowd during Festival was a highlight of their season.

“The huge support and incredible atmosphere is something the guys look forward to and drives us even more to win for our supporters,” said Mr Glass.

Day Two events culminate tonight with the SKYCITY Casino Royale Ball at the newly-renovated Memorial Centre. A long-time local highlight, back in 2013 is a sell-out. The event’s Bond theme promises glamour and intrigue, fine food and music from the Queenstown Jazz Orchestra, Doug Kamo and Emily Burns, and Christchurch covers band Puree.

To see the full line up of the programme and individual event details check out the complete American Express Queenstown Winter Festival calendar online at www.winterfestival.co.nz or pick up a programme at information outlets throughout the region.

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