Skies clear for start of Queenstown Winter Festival

By Tracey Roxburgh of the Otago Daily Times

File photo / Doug Sherring
File photo / Doug Sherring

If there is a weather god, he came to the party in Queenstown last night, enabling the 39th annual Queenstown Winter Festival to start with several thousand bangs.

The skies cleared over the resort - for the first time in over a week - yesterday afternoon, revealing snow covered mountains, providing the perfect back drop for the southern hemisphere's biggest party.

Parking was at a premium as thousands of residents and visitors, rugged up to combat the bitter temperatures, made their way to Earnslaw Park to enjoy the entertainment on the main stage, MC'd by New Zealand comedians Urzila Carlson and Paul Ego.

Mulled wine, warmed the bodies and hands of adults, while children, decorated with glow sticks, warmed their tummies with from street vendors and kept warm dancing and singing along with on-stage performers.

The event started with a celebration of local talent, including performances from Wakatipu rock band The Fletcherz and winners of Songstars, an original song-writing competition.

Last year's Songstars winner Holly Arrowsmith, who has just released her winning track Wolves and Moons also took to the stage before headline act Dave Dobbyn.

The New Zealand music legend performed Slice of Heaven with 20 pupils from Wakatipu primary schools before the 2013 festival was officially opened by Queenstown Lakes District Mayor Vanessa van Uden.

"Enjoy the whole of festival, be safe, welcome to Queenstown and welcome to winter.''

While many made a quick exit following the impressive seven-minute fireworks display, Dobbyn continued belting out the hits on the main stage, setting the scene for the next 10 days.

TODAY

Noon: Golden Mile and Street Parade, streets of Queenstown.

7pm-10pm: Fright Night Pool Party, Alpine Aqualand.

7pm: Ice Hockey - Southern Stampede v Canterbury Red Devils, Queenstown Ice Arena.

7pm: Casino Royale Ball, Queenstown Memorial Centre.

TOMORROW

Noon: Day on the Bay, featuring Birdman, jet sprints, paddle board race, Splash and Dash and Undy500.

7pm: Ice Hockey - Southern Stampede v Canterbury Red Devils, Queenstown Ice Arena.

- Otago Daily Times

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