Queenstown’s Winter Festival finishes in style
After 10 magical days of winter fun, laughter and celebrations, thousands of people took to Queenstown’s streets tonight to enjoy the 2012 American Express Queenstown Winter Festival finale – the spectacular and much-loved annual Mardi Gras.
From Brazilian beats to New Zealand roots and everything in between, it was a night to remember as the Earnslaw Park stage became a veritable melting pot of world-class music, dance and visual arts. Queenstown’s popular Ukulele Orchestra kicked off the festivities at 4pm before Grupo Junina (Brazil) and Ainu (World Music Experience) took to the stage. There was plenty of dancing and singing from the 8,000-strong crowd as The Beat Girls, a Motown extravaganza and hit New Zealand bands Babysitters Circus, led by Opshop frontman Jason Kerrison, and dDub rounded out the musical line-up.
The Beach Street stage also drew a big crowd as Wakatipu youth bands supported by the RockFormation Charitable Trust showcased their amazing talent.
As darkness fell over the resort the stunning Auckland Airport Lantern Parade, featuring an array of colourful lanterns and a Chinese dragon, lit up the streets.
Earlier in the day, over 200 people had headed to nearby Kingston to enjoy mulled wine, roasted chestnuts, entertainment for all ages and a ride on the famous vintage steam train at the Kingston Flyer Steam Powered Party.
A star-studded line-up of New Zealand’s best skiers and snowboarders showed off their skills in the Quiksilver Slopestyle Invitational today at the Remarkables ski area. The all-star field, including Nick Hyne and Luke Sinclair, pulled out some big tricks for the crowd on a course featuring jumps, straight and rainbow-shaped rails, boxes and platforms. Milu Multhaup-Appleton walked away with the men’s snowboard title, while Christy Prior took out the women’s division. In the men’s ski event Tom McGaw took first position and Alexandra Nicole gained first place in the women’s ski class.
Over at Queenstown’s five-star Hilton Queenstown hotel, festival wound down with two stylish foodie events - the Wakatipu Grill Jazz Lunch and The Life of Pinot with Peter Thornley which took guests on a delicious culinary journey featuring the best fresh, seasonal and local cuisine the region has to offer.
Festival Director Simon Green said this year’s festival had been a huge success.
“Every event was massively supported and everyone had a fantastic time. Winter truly started here this year.”