Winter Festival opening dazzles Queenstown

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Queenstown’s biggest party has begun without a hitch – despite the lack of snow.

Thousands of revellers braved chilly temperatures to watch an impressive fireworks display and listen to live music in Earnslaw Park for the opening of Winter Festival tonight (Friday).

Young local musicians Anna Leat and Sarah Foley took to the stage with The Dukes and Jordan Luck while host, Kiwi funnyman Jeremy Corbett, cracked jokes about the absent snow.

“Let’s all put the positive vibe out there for snow,” he said.

Prime Minister John Key worked the crowd before declaring the festival officially open.

“There’s no snow but this has still got to be the best place to be. And the snow is coming, right?” he said.

“Anyone here from Australia? I bet you flew here on Air New Zealand,” he joked, referring to Aussie carriers Qantas and Jetstar flights being cancelled due to the volcanic ash cloud.

“Anyone here from South Africa? The All Blacks are going to win the Rugby World Cup.”

The extensive fireworks on Queenstown Bay prompted cheers from the crowd, with some people say it’s the best Winter Festival display they’ve ever seen.