21.06.2010 New Zealand, South Island, Queenstown

Across the globe, people are sweating and rushing to air-conditioned theaters to catch the latest blockbuster or to stadiums for a baseball game and a hot dog. After all, it’s summer and that’s what most folks do. But if your New Zealand luxury vacation is happening this summer, you might be surprised to learn that it’s winter in the land of the Kiwis — and the season’s biggest party is about to happen. The Queenstown Winter Festival is set to kick off its wild, 10-day extravaganza June 25 and will keep the festivities going until July 4. While there won’t be any outdoor barbecues or games of horseshoes at the festival, there is something for everyone at this uniquely New Zealand event.

This year’s Queenstown Winter Festival kicks off with a massive opening night party in Earnslaw Park in the center of Queenstown. New Zealand’s Prime Minister, John Key, is scheduled to appear to get the party started followed by a live musical show. The show will feature a floating stage on Queenstown Bay; in between acts, fireworks will illuminate the skies. The following night, the Lindauer Masquerade Ball takes place and is considered to be the festival’s most glamorous event. This year’s theme is Moulin Rouge and attendees are encouraged to dress extravagantly; no outfit is too over the top for this party! Another chance to don festival apparel happens a week later at the Lindauer Jazz Night. A free Mardi Gras happens on Tuesday, June 29th, with live music, parades and tons of local food.

For a more wintery-flavored event, check out the festivals happenings at Coronet Peak. Night-skiing, mountain bike racing in the snow and a wacky dog derby all take place in this picturesque setting. The festival’s closing night concert also happens at snow-covered Coronet Peak. And there’s still more going on at the festival! An all-star comedy show, special events for kids, professional boxing, ice hockey, craft markets — even a “drag” competition featuring men in dresses and heels.

After non-stop partying, you’ll need to find time to relax. Thank heaven that Queenstown is home to dozens of world class hotels, spas, and fine dining. The charming town, which is nestled in gorgeous snow-covered mountains, also plays home to designer restaurants to satisfy palettes craving more than festival food. So why not spend your summer skiing and making snow angles while enjoying one of the planet’s hottest parties?

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New Zealand Luxury Vacation at Matakauri Lodge