American Express Queenstown Winter Festival will offer an impressive fireworks display. // © 2013 American Express Queenstown Winter Festival
While America will be feeling the heat this summer, New Zealand will be celebrating the cool weather with several winter festivals and events. From incredible skiing and snowboarding opportunities to annual events that bring the community together, there’s plenty of reasons to beat the heat in New Zealand.
What a Treat
The chocoholics in the family will definitely be able to get their fix at the Dunedin Cadbury Chocolate Carnival, taking place July 20-26 in Dunedin, New Zealand. The festival celebrates both the winter season and the joy of chocolate, with chocolate tours, chocolate decorating, a Cadbury 5K fun run, chocolate painting and even chocolate facials.
The chocolate carnival culminates with the famous Cadbury Jaffa Race. A Kiwi favorite, Jaffas are balls of orange sugar-coated chocolate. During the race, up 25,000 giant Cadbury Jaffas hurl their way down Baldwin Street, the world’s steepest street. Onlookers can enjoy live music and entertainment throughout the festivities.
Cool it Now
The city of Queenstown is gearing up for its 39th annual American Express Queenstown Winter Festival. From June 21-30, Queenstown will welcome 45,000 people for one of the city’s largest street parties. Festival goers can expect an impressive fireworks display over Lake Wakatipu, performances by live local and international bands and a Mardi Gras spectacular.
The festival began in 1975 when some locals decided that winter was as good of an excuse as any for a party. They dreamt up madcap races on the mountains, sweet treats for kids and entertainment for the whole family.
Some of New Zealand’s winter festivals have ancient roots. A case in point is the Matariki Festival taking place in Auckland from June 22 through July 22. When the Matariki star cluster rises into the skies of New Zealand, it signals a month-long celebration of the Maori New Year. Matariki is the Maori name for the small cluster of stars in the Taurus constellation that rise during the New Zealand winter.
Auckland will come alive with a series of concerts, family events and traditional celebrations. From art exhibits, kapa haka (traditional Maori dance), theater, astronomy, storytelling and lantern parades, there is something for just about everyone to enjoy.
From Aug. 15-25, spectators can watch world-class athletes battle it out in snowboard halfpipes, big air events and more with the Winter Games NZ, one of the largest winter sports events outside of the Winter Olympics. Competitors from 36 countries flock to New Zealand to compete in 14 days of action-packed sporting events — all of which are set to the picturesque backdrops of Lake Wanaka and Queenstown. This festival of winter sports includes on and off-mountain sports as well as a film festival.