New WinterFest boss no stranger

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A former Queenstowner’s on his way back to town to take over the Winter Festival reins.

Harald Ulriksen replaces outgoing festival director Rae Baker. He’ll start the job next month.

Ulriksen’s no stranger to Queenstown having lived here twice before over the past 20 years – during his first stint he was Pure Adventure’s event manager and involved in the launch of HQNZ.

Then, in 2015, he was appointed as Ngai Tahu Tourism’s business manager.

Most recently though he’s been IMG Worlds of Adventure head of entertainment and events in Dubai, which is the world’s biggest indoor theme park.

In a space the size of Queenstown under one roof, Ulriksen’s been delivering live events and parades while reinvigorating existing attractions for audiences of more than 5000 people.

He’s also worked elsewhere in the Middle East, and in Africa, the Americas and Europe.

“I’ve experienced winter in a number of different destinations around the world and in my opinion Queenstown has it all, and the Queenstown Winter Festival plays a big part in its world-class standing.

“I look forward to seeing where we can take festival into the future, while also maintaining its historical value.

“To steer such an important event is exciting, and a privilege.”

He’s a keen adventurer and distance runner.

In 2012 he ran the length of Chile, 3700km, and 1000km in the UK raising money for child cancer charities in memory of his late wife, Bronwyn Meredith, a much-loved dance teacher who died after a long illness in 2008.

He raised more than $100,000 in donations.

The 2020 Real Journeys Queenstown Winter Festival, owned by the resort’s tourism body Destination Queens-town (DQ), is being held from June 18 to 21.

DQ chairman Matt Hollyer says Ulriksen’s skills and experience in large-scale events and projects made him a “great fit” for the job.

He also paid tribute to Baker’s commitment in delivering two “vibrant and successful festivals” that cemented the four-day format and drove a “significant increase in festival visitors”.

tracey.roxburgh@scene.co.nz