Queenstown WinterFest shores up big 40th

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Queenstown Winter Festival’s 40th has been shored up by the return of its naming sponsor – and two other big corporates joining the party.

American Express, title sponsor for six years, has renewed in time for this year’s milestone 10-day celebration – and also committed for the next two.

The credit card company’s return means festival organisers have been able to confirm the popular Village Green ice rink will again be on offer during the festival, which kicks off winter season.

DB Breweries, which is a former title sponsor, has also inked a three-year festival deal as has new broadcast media partner The Radio Network.

Local newspaper Mountain Scene – the free voice of Queenstown owned by Dunedin-based Allied Press – is also continuing its long association as the main print media sponsor.

The signings will soften the blow after former key sponsor Air New Zealand pulled pin late last year.

The airline initially didn’t renew its sponsorship last year, before getting on board in a reduced arrangement at the 11th hour – but it’s since declined to re-sign for the 40th despite what Destination Queenstown boss Graham Budd called a “compelling proposition”.

Last week, it was revealed Air NZ has a new three-year naming rights deal with the inaugural Queenstown International Marathon.

The festival signings will be a major relief for festival organisers and owner DQ – almost their entire portfolio of sponsors had been up for renewal this year.

Festival boss Lisa Buckingham welcomes the return of financial services giant American Express, which enables the popular Village Green ice rink to go ahead. 

The rink creates a downtown hub for the festival and a great ambience, Buckingham says.

Dean Chadwick, American Express vice president marketing, says: “Renewing our partnership allows us to continue to build on the momentum developed so far with the festival and the community and provides a great platform for growth in the area.” 

The Radio Network (TRN) replaces rival MediaWorks as festival’s radio sponsor.

TRN stations include Classic Hits, ZM, iHeartRadio and ARN stations in Australia. The network has promised an Aussie radio show promotion for the festival. 

Buckingham says the sponsorship provides “an opportunity to reach the valuable Australian target market as well as providing great media reach within NZ”.

Classic Hits Queenstown-based breakfast show and sports host Craig ‘Ferg’ Ferguson says: “Just when I thought my days were finished with festival – and no more drag races – lo and behold TRN get in.

“We’re back into it with the same vim and vigour that we approached it with all those years ago.” 

TRN chief executive Jane Hastings says they’re thrilled to be associated with the iconic Winter Festival’s 40th year.

DB Breweries’ DB Export marketing manager Julia Imlah says: “We have a number of entertaining activities in store for Queenstown Winter Festival visitors.”

Buckingham – who did her first festival last year and hopes to announce more sponsorships soon – says: “It’s great to have such a strong line-up of supporters in the festival family to celebrate the milestone 40th birthday.”

This year’s festival runs from June 20-29.