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Successful 2016 American Express Queenstown Winter Festival closes, planning for 2017 revamped Festival begins.

July 5, 2016 Ski No Comments Email Email

AMEX MM SHAs the finale to the 42nd American Express Queenstown Winter Festival gets underway, Festival organisers will enjoy the final party before planning for the 2017 Festival starts.

For 10 days more than 60 events in the American Express Queenstown Winter Festival have entertained an estimated 45,000 locals and visitors.

Festival Director Lisa Buckingham said that the mix of Festival favourites and new events and a surge in social media coverage attracted large audiences and participants.

“We’re delighted that such a wide audience has enjoyed a very successful 2016 American Express Queenstown Winter Festival,” said Ms Buckingham.

Earlier this week it was announced that in 2017 the Festival will be reshaped into a compact action-packed four-day event that will continue to herald the start of winter.

Ms Buckingham says that building on a position of strength that has been developed over the last 42 years, the exciting new four day format will ensure the Festival remains vibrant and exciting for both visitors and locals alike.


“The Festival has evolved over its 42 year run and in 2017 the biggest changes yet will ensure that the Festival will continue to be the southern hemisphere’s biggest celebration of winter for decades to come,” said Ms Buckingham.

“In the events business you are only as good as your last gig – and the 2016 American Express Queenstown Winter Festival was once again a success.  I’m looking forward to the exciting opportunities the new format will give us in 2017.”

The Festival team’s contingency planning and agility were on show in 2016 when, due to snow conditions, mountain events such as GoPro Mountain Bikes on Snow, Skin to Summit, DB Export Dog Derby, Auckland Airport Suitcase Race, GoPro Bobsled Race and the American Express Dash for Cash were hosted at the Remarkables Ski Area at short notice. Despite the last minute changes successful events and record beating participants and turnout were the result.

“When you are working with so many events under one umbrella and then throw in weather conditions and outdoor venues you need a great team, supportive partners and most of all a sense of humour,” said Ms Buckingham.

The American Express Queenstown Winter Festival annually marks the very start of winter and is timed approximately two weeks after the scheduled start to the ski season and just before the New Zealand and Australian school holidays to encourage visitors to come to Queenstown ahead of the busy season and this will continue.

Ms Buckingham said that the full programme of events is shaped to entertain a wide range of visitors and locals who attend. While the 2017 programme is yet to be finalised it will retain key favourites while also injecting some new events. Shaping the new programme will be the immediate task of the Festival team and their advisory group.

From Monday, 4 July an online survey will seek feedback from festival attendees and participants, the Queenstown community and business sector.

“The American Express Queenstown Winter Festival is staged by the Queenstown community for    the Queenstown community and its guests so we need their opinions and passions to continue to be at the heart of the programme,” said Ms Buckingham.

Earnslaw park filling up quickly for the American Express Queenstown Winter Festival Opening Party 2016

The final events on the closing day of the 2016 American Express Queenstown Winter Festival include the Monster Energy Slopestyle at the Remarkables Ski Area – which was blanketed with fresh snow overnight, and the Auckland Airport Community Carnival in downtown Queenstown.

The Auckland Airport Community Carnival is the biggest yet and runs from 4.30pm to 8pm on the streets of the resort town, closed to pedestrians for the night. There will be food stalls, five ice carvers flown in from China by the Christchurch Chinese Consulate to create a dragon ice statue, FMX Motocross stunt riders jumping their motorbikes over the Rockformation live music stage along the length of lower Beach Street, a second music stage with three live acts, street performers, children’s entertainment, cultural performers, storytelling by Marcus ‘the Sandman’ Winters and the final night of the American Express Winter Wonderland Ice Rink.

The 2017 American Express Queenstown Winter Festival programme will be released in May 2017 on the Festival website

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