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American Express Queenstown Winter Festival

American Express Opening Party and Fireworks lights up clear southern skies

MEDIA RELEASE: American Express Queenstown Winter Festival Opening Party lights up clear southern skies

The 42nd American Express Queenstown Winter Festival has begun with thousands of people gathering on the Queenstown waterfront under clear southern skies to dance, feast on street fare and watch spectacular fireworks.

Lisa Buckingham, American Express Queenstown Winter Festival Director said the American Express Opening Party and Fireworks was always a great night as months of organizing came together in a spectacular display.

“Clear skies and a large crowd of families and friends enjoying American Express Opening Night and Fireworks is what makes it all magical for me,” said Lisa Buckingham.

Local bands Kafka Collective then Red warmed up the crowd for Shane Cortese and the 8 Track Band, and the fireworks display was as vibrant as ever.

Over the next 10 days an estimated 45,000 people will be treated to more than 60 events to mark the 42nd American Express Queenstown Winter Festival.  American Express, a 27 year supporter of the Festival is sponsoring the Opening Party and Fireworks, the Festival Street Parade, the Winter Wonderland Ice Rink, and the Comedy Debate.

Saturday morning will see the streets of Queenstown lined with local families and visitors to enjoy the annual American Express Festival Street Parade and the MacPac Golden Mile racers sprinting around the streets of Queenstown, while the GoPro Mountain Bikes on Snow will be held at the Remarkables Ski Area for the first time. Saturday night ice hockey fans will cheer on the SKYCITY Stampede against the West Auckland Admirals while a trans-tasman comedic battle will see New Zealand and Australian comedians argue the moot that “New Zealand should be a state of Australia.”


Downloadable high-res images can be found in the Festival 2016 Galleries and media section. 

For further information contact:
Simone Flight
Media Manager
Phone: 022 124 5346
Email: [email protected] 

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!