Thousands expected to hit streets for Queenstown’s carnival

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Winter Festival’s traditional Mardis Gras has morphed into the Auckland Airport Community Carnival this year – with a focus on Queenstown’s melting pot of cultures.

Up to 15,000 people are expected to take to the streets to enjoy music and food from around the world.

And while the resort’s hotchpotch of heritages will provide a new addition to the celebrations, many will head for perennial favourites such as the Rockformation stage, which features young Queenstown musicians.

“We’ve actually relocated their stage to outside The Mountaineer building,” festival manager Lisa Buckingham says.

“There will also a small stage down near the Rees statue that’s going to have a real blues feel, with a Wellington band and a local band performing.”

Queenstown musician Holly Arrowsmith – who won the resort’s original song contest Songstars last year and has just released her first EP – will perform at the top of The Mall near a mulled wine stall.

Arrowsmith says: “I did the main stage last year with Songstars so this’ll be a different scene.

“It’ll be cool and hopefully I’ll reach a different audience. I really enjoy that sort of performance.”

Revellers will be given maps to navigate the carnival – with a prize draw for those who manage to visit all the zones.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity to take a small trip around the world without actually leaving Queenstown,” Buckingham says.

“Grab your friends, flatmates or family and head down with an empty tummy, a sense of adventure and a woolly hat.”

Tips to get best out of carnival

• Bring a pen to fill in ‘Round the World’ Quiz – this map helps you navigate a world trip around Queenstown streets, with questions and clues hidden at international food stalls. Hand in answers at Auckland Airport’s tent by 7pm to enter the prize draw.

• Bring an empty tummy – there’ll be lots of hearty warm food.

• Due to road closures, the Camp St Connectabus stop temporarily moves to Athol St. Connectabus provide a convenient, cost-effective way to get to and from carnival without parking hassles.

• Bring coins for street performers, buskers.

• Only alcohol from official festival bars can be consumed in the event area.