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No choice but to charge: Luma will be back for 2021, but, due to the effects of Covid-19, there'll be an entry fee for the first time. PICTURE: STEPHEN JAQUIERY

By MATTHEW MCKEW

Covid’s forced organisers of one of Queenstown’s most popular events to charge an entry fee this year.

Thousands of people have historically flocked to the Queenstown Gardens for Luma, held at Queen’s Birthday weekend, which has always been free to attend.

Last year, due to the global pandemic, the traditional light show couldn’t be staged and was replaced with a community spin-off, Lumify, which saw residents across the Whakatipu, and beyond, decorate their houses instead.

Luma proper’s back this year — though boss Duncan Forsyth is encouraging residents to still get into the spirit themselves at home — but due to the ramifications of coronavirus on commercial sponsorship funding, to help put on the $800,000 event he says they’ve had no choice but to charge an entry fee for 2021.

City Hall, Central Lakes Trust and Community Trust South chip in to contribute around 20% of the total cost of the event, but the rest — be it in kind or cash — is missing because of an economic downturn.

Instead, $5 wristbands will be made available for rolling entry to Queenstown Gardens, while parents can bring primary school children along for free.

‘‘We’re asking the community to support us to put this on, we are run by a charitable trust, we’re not looking to make a profit, just pay for the event,’’ Forsyth says.

‘‘We’re asking for the minimum we can, but to put it on, please help us.’’

Things will be a little stricter, too, to ensure the event can continue should New Zealand change Covid-19 alert level.

The event team’s also working to provide better public transport options to cut down on the number of cars fighting it out for parks.

Luma’s being held this year from June 4 to 7 — lights will be switched on between 5pm and 10pm each night.

matthew.mckew@scene.co.nz