Queenstown Winter Festival: Cancelled [2024]

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Update: Queenstown Winter Festival is No More

In 2023, it was officially announced that the Queenstown Winter Festival would no longer take place due to budgeting issues. The below guide is for the Queenstown Winter Festival in previous years and will be taken off our website when we feel that you have all got the memo…

In the meantime, for more ways to enjoy Queenstown, head to the 45 Best Things to Do in Queenstown. Otherwise, there are many exciting events happening across New Zealand as listed in The Top New Zealand Events & Festivals.

What Dates are for Queenstown Winter Festival?

The Queenstown Winter Festival has been cancelled indefinitely due to budgeting setbacks.

Queenstown Winter Festival Guide

Four nearby ski fields, heaps of backpackers, skiers and riders, and more bars and clubs for apres-ski, no wonder Queenstown gets excited about winter!

To celebrate the start of winter, the town hosts the annual Queenstown Winter Festival. Over the 10 days mid-June, the entertainment ranges from the classic onstage music to the bizarre competitions like riding suitcases down the slopes! Night or day, there is always something to do at the Winter Festival, so take a look at our guide on what to expect from the biggest event on the Queenstown calendar.


Where to Stay for the Winter Festival

Fear not! There are heaps of places to stay in Queenstown on a budget. Make sure you book well in advance for your accommodation during the Winter Festival. If it isn’t the swarms of people here for the festival, it’s those looking for jobs for the winter.

Here are just a few of the options for affordable Queenstown accommodation:

Opening Party

Party like it’s the start of winter! Oh wait, it is!

This is the busiest you’ll see the town on Lake Wakatipu. The gathering in Earnslaw Park kicks off with live entertainment, food and beverage stalls, and the fireworks! If you like bustling nightlife, then stick around for the after-party in Queenstown’s many clubs and bars.


Free Events

Evening Sessions

From 5pm, Saturday to Saturday, enjoy some live music at the stage in Earnslaw Park. There are heaters and mulled wine to keep you toasty.

Day on the Bay

Watch people launch their homemade inventions into Lake Wakatipu in the Birdman competition. Then, there are plenty of whacky races and dance battles to keep you entertained, whether you watch or get involved.

Winter Quiz Nights

Make sure to book your place for these free quiz nights at the SKYCITY Casino.

Downtown Day

Mid-week brings on the annual event day of craziness. Competitions include: who can melt the ice the fastest, the hospitality race (fast bed making and running waiters; that sort of thing), and the famous Drag Race! This means drag queens taking on an obstacle course.

Mountain Mayhem

The crazy competitions continue into the mountains on this day of fun. Highlights include sliding on a suitcase in the Suitcase Race and the Dash for Cash something every traveller needs, right?


More Competitions

Free to watch, or get involved yourself for a small fee, there are heaps of competitions throughout the 10 days. Most of these competitions show the true Kiwi sense of humour!

Annual competitions include:

Dog Derby

Come to Coronet Peak to watch the dogs and their owners slide their way down the slopes. As travellers, we might not have our dogs with us (hopefully) but the event is free to watch!

Dog Barking

Dogs and their owners, again, enter this competition where their dog must bark on cue… if not, then the owner must bark. Either way, it’s hilarious to watch.

Mountain Bikes on Snow

Watch or enter the mountain bike challenge on Coronet Peak.

Slopestyle Invitational

This is a freestyle competition in The Remarkables terrain park, in which you will need a lift pass to access the park to either watch or participate.

Frisbee Golf

Frisbee golf is a favourite past-time in the Queenstown Gardens, so join in on the fun in this competition.

Golden Mile

Run around the streets of Queenstown with the fastest feet or the craziest costumes to win prizes.©

Nighttime Entertainment

Queenstown is known for its epic nightlife, so of course, there are plenty of things to keep you busy on the nights of the festival.

Those seeking laughs will be served at the comedy events, whether it’s a comedy debate or stand-up comedy night. Venues for these tend to be SKYCITY and Queenstown Memorial Centre. Make sure to book your place at the comedy nights and pay the fee.

Strap on your skis or board and head up to Coronet Peak for the opening of the night skiing. There’s sure to be an apres-ski vibe with a DJ set and competitions. You can either enjoy the entertainment from the base or you’ll need a lift pass to join in on the slopes.

More night entertainment that varies from year-to-year involves theatre performances, special DJ events in the clubs, silent disco, or fine-dining events in the SKYCITY Casino.


Workshops and Seminars

It’s not all about partying in the Queenstown Winter Festival. You have to learn something too!

The workshops and seminars are like a survival kit for the winter. For example, in the past, there have been seminars on avalanche awareness, how to tune your skis and snowboard, smartphone tech tips, and host your own winter party.


Closing Event

All good things must come to an end, yes, even the Queenstown Winter Festival. See off the festival with the Community Carnival, which celebrates the multicultural communities living in Queenstown. Expect diverse food, a wide range of performances, and live music on stage.

Although the festival has come to an end, at least it means one thing: winter is here! Now, where are my skis?

What Else is There to Do in Queenstown?

Staying a while in the adrenaline capital? We know a thing or two about Queenstown, so take a look at our other articles to make sure your itinerary is full during your trip there.


The information in this guide has been compiled from our extensive research, travel and experiences across New Zealand and the South Pacific, accumulated over more than a decade of numerous visits to each destination. Additional sources for this guide include the following:

Our editorial standards: At NZ Pocket Guide, we uphold strict editorial standards to ensure accurate and quality content.

About The Author

Laura S.

This article has been reviewed and published by Laura, the editor-in-chief and co-founder of NZ Pocket Guide. Laura is a first-class honours journalism graduate and a travel journalist with expertise in New Zealand and South Pacific tourism for over 10 years. She also runs travel guides for five of the top destinations in the South Pacific and is the co-host of over 250 episodes of the NZ Travel Show on YouTube.

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