The 2016 American Express Queenstown Winter Festival will deliver surprises and a little bit of magic.
With the clock ticking down to just two days until the start of the 42nd American Express Queenstown Winter Festival, final preparations are readying a festival that will deliver surprises and firsts with new events and twists on old favourites.
From Friday (24 June) locals and visitors alike will enjoy more than 60 events held over 10 days of a festival that is regarded as the southern hemisphere’s biggest celebration of winter. The Festival has evolved over its 42 year run and in 2016 there is no sign of middle age ennui with nine new events and surprises for regular festival goers to look forward to.
Festival Director Lisa Buckingham has announced that for the first time the GoPro Mountain Bikes on Snow (25 June) and Skin to Summit (26 June) will be held at The Remarkables Ski Area. For only the second time in its 42 year history, the DB Export Dog Derby will also take place at The Remarkables.
The venue change comes as a result of early season snow conditions favouring The Remarkables this year while Coronet Peak waits for the next weather system to re-build the snow base.
“Festival is held at a time that’s still only the start of winter so we always plan for this possibility,” said Ms Buckingham.
”We’re lucky that being in Queenstown we have the choice of two ski fields on which to stage our Festival mountain events and that staff at those fields are experienced at adapting to the conditions.
“With great snow conditions at The Remarkables, we’re as excited as we expect regular competitors are going to be when they hear that their favourite events will be on new courses in 2016, the new base complex will provide for fantastic viewing for spectators and the newly sealed road will make for easy access,” said Ms Buckingham.
The American Express Queenstown Winter Festival annually marks the very start of winter and is timed just before the New Zealand and Australian school holidays to encourage visitors to come to Queenstown ahead of the busy season.
Ms Buckingham said that the full programme of events is shaped to entertain a wide range of visitors and locals, regular festival goers and first timers who make up the estimated 45,000 people who come to Queenstown across the 10 days.
“World Social Media Day Bonfire & BBQ Instameet is one of the most eagerly anticipated new events and has already sold out,” said Ms Buckingham.
Amercian Express Opening Party and Fireworks 2015
World Social Media Day falls on June 30 in 2016 and the Festival is making the most of New Zealand’s time zone to get the jump on the rest of the world. Well-known social media influencers from Australia Jason Charles Hill and Hello Emilie (Emilie Ristevski) are travelling to New Zealand to join American Trey Ratcliff and New Zealander Kyle Mulinder to mark the day. Their images will reach millions of global followers proclaiming #winterstartshere .
While Comedy Night may also be sold out, it’s just one of a trifecta of comedic events in the Festival. Comedy lovers still have Wednesday Lates and the American Express Comedy Debate to snap up tickets to. The moot for the debate is “New Zealand should be a state of Australia.” To ensure balance and fair play, the Festival is bringing to Queenstown Australian comedians Nazeem Hussain, Nick Cody and Harley Breen to argue the affirmative.
But before showtime on Friday (24 June), the Festival team, sponsors and their 65 volunteers and have last minute touches to add, the American Express Winter Wonderland Ice Rink to install, stages to build, hand-made decorations for the SKYCITY Ball to create and fairy lights to string up.
“Whether its favourite events with a twist or new events making their mark, when it all comes together, Festival is a magical time to be in Queenstown,” says Lisa Buckingham.