2016 Festival ends, planning for revamped 2017 Festival begins

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

As 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.

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, the Kids' Big Snow Dig at Remarkables Park 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.


Downloadable high-res images can be found in the media section of the Winter Festival website www.winterfestival.co.nz/media and in the event Galleries www.winterfestival.co.nz/galleries

For further information contact:
Simone Flight
Media Manager
Phone: 022 124 5346
Email: media@winterfestival.co.nz
Website: www.winterfestival.co.nz/media 

Background to the American Express Queenstown Winter Festival

WINTER STARTS HERE! From 24 June – 3 July 2016 the American Express Queenstown Winter Festival celebrates the start of winter like only Queenstown can, with street parties, music, comedy, family fun and madness up the mountain.

The American Express Opening Party and Fireworks kick starts the celebrations and is followed by ten days of fun, jam-packed with more than 60 events. From family events to DJs and nightlife - there’s something on the programme for everyone.

Queenstowners have always loved winter but it was made official when the very first Queenstown Winter Festival took place in 1975. A group of locals decided that the start of winter was a great excuse to have a party. They organised races on the mountains, with lollies for the little people and beers for the bigger people. With a concert or two and a town-wide ball thrown in, Winter Festival was a great success. News of the fun spread quickly and the next year people came from further afield to join the festivities.

Since then the Festival has evolved into New Zealand's - and perhaps the southern hemisphere's - biggest celebration of winter! The event attracts more than 45,000 visitors and contributes an estimated 57 million to the local economy all in the name of celebrating the arrival of winter in true Queenstown style!

  • 1st place winner Owen John GoPro Bob Sled Championshops at Mountain Mayhem 2 1st place winner Owen John GoPro Bob Sled Championshops at Mountain Mayhem 2