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Fireworks above the TSS Earnslaw at Real Journeys Friday Night Fireworks and Party 2017 ES 01

New look Festival delivers on expectations, planning for 2018 Festival begins

After a successful 2017 event, organisers of the 43rd Queenstown Winter Festival have confirmed that the shortened format for 2017 was the right decision for the Festival’s long-term future.

After a successful 2017 event, organisers of the 43rd Queenstown Winter Festival have confirmed that the shortened format for 2017 was the right decision for the Festival’s long-term future.

Destination Queenstown Chief Executive, Graham Budd, said that he is delighted with the 2017 Queenstown Winter Festival and new shortened programme. 

“We are very pleased with how the new-look Queenstown Winter Festival has run, all the events went very well and it’s been great to see the local community getting behind the revamped programme too,” said Mr Budd.

Mr Budd confirmed that the 44th Queenstown Winter Festival, which is owned by Destination Queenstown, will continue to be central to Destination Queenstown’s marketing of the resort’s winter to domestic and international visitors.  

“Queenstown Winter Festival has proven again to be an important event for our region and Destination Queenstown is fully committed to the success of Queenstown Winter Festival. We are delighted to announce that the 2018 Queenstown Winter Festival will be centred on the weekend of 23-24 June 2018,” said Mr Budd.

“Before then we’ll be doing a thorough review of the Festival and looking at ways we can fine tune the event that overall has been a great success.”

Lisa Buckingham, Festival Director for five Queenstown Winter Festivals believes that the energy generated on the streets of Queenstown by the action-packed four-day Festival vindicated organisers’ sense at the end of 2016 that the time had come to reformat the Festival.

“The energy on the streets of Queenstown noticeably lifted the day Festival started and continued right through until Sunday night without flagging thanks to the jam-packed programme and the buzz of visitors and businesses embracing the opportunity to be a part of the positive vibe,” said Ms Buckingham.

For four days more than 60 events entertained locals and visitors. Ms Buckingham noted that some of the new events and new event formats for 2017 were highlights of the Festival in its 43rd year.

“The backdrop of mountains and dusky pink skies as wakas were paddled into Queenstown Bay to be greeted by Ngai Tahu representatives and Deputy Prime Minister Paula Bennett at the Queenstown Winter Festival Welcome was a special moment for those there,” said Ms Buckingham.

One event that Ms Buckingham thought found its feet in 2017 was the Festival Hub on Earnslaw Park with live entertainment every day from noon until 9pm featuring many acts from the lower South Island, pop-up food trucks and a bar. New events such as the Community Night Walking Parade had a smaller but enthusiastic turn out which Ms Buckingham hopes will grow.

“With new events, such as the Community Night Walking Parade, sponsors, locals, businesses and community groups can see how the new format works and where the opportunities are for them to participate or to get involved and profile their businesses or causes,” said Ms Buckingham.

Queenstown Winter Festival annually marks the 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.

“The shortened format enabled us to promote the Queenstown Winter Festival to domestic and international visitors as a vibrant long weekend to experience the Festival in its entirety,” said Ms Buckingham. 

More than 80 media were accredited to attend the Festival and their coverage of the four days across all media platforms carried word to the world that Queenstown was the place to be. 

According to Ms Buckingham the Queenstown Winter Festival reached more than 110,000 people on Facebook and garnered more than 24,000 likes on Facebook. In the past week alone there were nearly 2,000 social media posts relating to the Festival. 

The Festival also featured on television (Breakfast (TVNZ), The Project and The AM Show, (Three), and TVOne News), on radio (The Hits, NewsTalkZB, ZM and Hauraki (NZME) and RadioLive (Mediaworks)), in print (Allied Press, NZME and Fairfax) and on digital platforms of all of these media channels to name a few.  

“Integrating social media with traditional media saw digital content flooding many people’s news feeds buoyed by the posts of sponsors, local businesses, performers and most importantly festival goers having a fantastic time,” said Ms Buckingham.

Marketing campaigns aside, Ms Buckingham says that at its core the Queenstown Winter Festival is created by the Queenstown community for locals and guests.

“The continued success of the Festival is in part reliant on listening to the opinions and ideas of those who have a stake in it,” said Ms Buckingham.

From Thursday, 29 June 2017 an online survey posted on will seek feedback from Festival attendees, participants and sponsors and Queenstown community groups and business sector. The survey closes on 14 July 2017.

As for Ms Buckingham’s expectations for 2018, she will enjoy it as a reveller as she has announced that the 43rd Queenstown Winter Festival will be her last as Festival Director. 

“The need for a shortened Festival was in my sights from early on in my tenure.  When I got the go ahead for 2017 to be a four day format I knew that I had to stay on to see it through. Now that it has been the success that we knew it would be, it’s the perfect time for me to pass on the responsibility of continuing to evolve the Festival to someone else,” said Ms Buckingham.

Asked ‘what next’, Ms Buckingham says that her short term priority is to assist her partner with his business and to pay attention to some personal pursuits.  

“That said, destination marketing and promotion is where my professional passion lies so this won’t be my last campaign,” said Ms Buckingham.

Destination Queenstown CEO Graham Budd said that the Queenstown Winter Festival and its stakeholders will be very sad to see Ms Buckingham go after five consecutive years of delivering the Festival.

“We wish Lisa all the best and thank her sincerely for the amazing work she delivered for Queenstown Winter Festival between 2012 and 2017. Her drive, enthusiasm and unwavering commitment have been greatly appreciated and have seen Queenstown Winter Festival remain as one of New Zealand’s iconic premiere events.  We wish Lisa all the very best in her future endeavours,” said Mr Budd.

Destination Queenstown will begin recruitment in the coming weeks. The annual review of the Queenstown Winter Festival including the annual survey of participants, sponsors and attendees will be completed by the end of July 2017. The 2018 Queenstown Winter Festival programme will be released in May 2018 via the Festival website.


Take the 2017 Queenstown Winter Festival survey.

2017 event media releases:

Day 1. 

Day 2.

Day 3.

Day 4.

Downloadable hi res images for media are available here

Public galleries with more downloadable hi res images for each event are here;

Please check the metadata for detailed captions, photographer credits and waiver confirmation. Email [email protected] if any further information is required.

Raw video footage courtesy of Olympus is available for the 2017 Monteith’s Dog Derby and Macpac Mountain Bikes on Snow. Email [email protected] to request a Dropbox folder share.

Contact: Simone Flight
Media Relations Manager
Tel: 021 1656 218
[email protected] 

The Queenstown Winter Festival celebrates the start of winter as only Queenstown can. Annually in late June from lake front to mountain top Queenstown brims with locals and visitors, street parties, music, comedy, family fun and wintery themed madness. Visit and sign up to the Friends of Festival mailing list and follow the Festival on Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat.