New Zealand Winter Festivals 2018

By: Esha Chanda

Winter Games Winter Games Winter Games
Taupo Winter Festival Taupo Winter Festival: Light trail Taupo Winter Festival
The Square Winter Ale Festival The Square Winter Ale Festival The Square Winter Ale Festival
Queenstown Winter Festival Queenstown Winter Festival: Community and cultural groups at the Community Walking Parade Queenstown Winter Festival
Light Nelson Light Nelson: Lightbulb Men. Photo credit: Dan Allen Light Nelson
F.A.W.C.! Winter. Photo credit: Kirsten Simcox F.A.W.C.! Winter: The Last Crush June. Photo credit: Kirsten Simcox F.A.W.C.! Winter. Photo credit: Kirsten Simcox
Matariki kite festival NZ Huge kites are flown during the Matariki Festival. Photo credit: Hannah Peters | Getty Images Matariki kite festival NZ

New Zealand's best winter festivals to stay away from cabin fever

New Zealand plays host to different festivals during the colder months, ranging from a celebration of arts and culture to winter games and even a culinary event. Check out NZMCD's pick of the best winter festivals in the country.

F.A.W.C.! Winter

This one-stop culinary event is a gastronomical journey that takes you to some of the region’s most stunning locations over four weekends. With 14 events (there are more than 60) sold out, there’s still time to grab the popular ones. But hurry up because these tasty opportunities won’t last for long.

Dates: 1 to 24 June 2018



The nationwide celebration of Maori New Year sees performances, workshops, exhibitions, hangi, Haka competitions, and more. And make sure you keep an eye out for the sparkling cluster of stars visible to naked eye.

Dates: 7 June 2018

Queenstown Winter Festival

There’s probably no bigger celebration in the southern hemisphere of the arrival of the season’s first powder than the Queenstown Winter Festival. Going strong for the last 43 years, this four-day festival sees the town buzzing with music, comedy nights, workshops, and, of course, fireworks.

Dates: 21 to 24 June 2018


Ohakune Mardi Gras

One of the most-loved winter parties in New Zealand is back this year with a stellar line-up including  iconic drum ’n’ bass acts Pendulum—their first live show in seven years—Stevie Stone, Rittz, Riff Raff, Times X Two, and DJ Spell.

Dates: 22 and 23 June 2018

Website: Tickets available at

Dunedin Midwinter Carnival

If you’re down south, mark your calendar for this year’s midwinter carnival in Dunedin. Held on the Saturday closest to the winter solstice, the event sees a live band performance, food stalls serving delicious local cuisine, and a carnival procession involving approximately 1000 people. Expect giant lanterns, dancers, drummers, and more.

Dates: 30 June 2018


The Square Winter Ale Festival

Picture this: live music on stage, pop-up entertainment, and the best of all, some of New Zealand’s finest brews. This one-day event will see 15 of the country’s best craft breweries come together at Christchurch’s Cathedral Square for the fourth annual winter ale festival.

Dates: 7 July 2018


Light Nelson

With darker days on the horizon, Nelson’s free light festival is set to brighten up your day. The illuminated installations are a collaboration of art, science, design, and technology with more than 60 works on display that create an outdoor gallery for the public. It takes place only every two years, so don’t miss out on this one.

Dates: 6 to 10 July 2018


Taupo Winter Festival

In its second year, the Taupo Winter Festival is a celebration of arts and culture, with many free-to-attend events. There’s music, film screenings, light trails, art exhibitions, and even pancake breakfast from Pak’nSave to look forward to.

Dates: 11 to 15 July 2018


Winter Games

New Zealand’s Southern Alps is gearing up for the sixth edition of the Audi Quattro Winter Games that are scheduled to take place during August and September. The games, which turned into an annual event this year, are one of the top five winter sports competitions in the world and the biggest in the southern hemisphere, and it’s all free to watch.

Dates: 25 August to 8 September


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