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The 41st Queenstown Winter Festival has got off to a rocking good start, with more than 9000 people braving the cold weather for the opening concert festivities.
Queenstown mayor Vanessa van Uden and Prime Minister John Key welcomed the noisy crowd and counted down for the star of the show - the massive fireworks display over Lake Wakatipu about 7pm.
A sea of coloured jackets, hats and children on shoulders lined Earnslaw Park tonight and boogied along with the Hamiltones who opened the concert.
They were followed by the Global Street Band - a group of six people from six countries, including the United States, Colombia and Poland, and picked from a campaign to find the world's best street musicians.
Headlining the main stage action would be Debbie Harwood, Annie Crummer and Margaret Urlich, part of When the Cat's Away.
As final preparations were being made yesterday, snow fell thick and fast around Wakatipu. And as it began to ease, the smile on festival director Lisa Buckingham's face got bigger.
She said the crowd was "certainly one of the biggest ever" and put the large numbers of people down to the "perfect weather".
A predicted ''weather bomb'' arrived on time yesterday morning, bringing snow to low levels in parts of the district, but roads remained clear in Queenstown's CBD.
The 10-day festival is expected to draw about 45,000 visitors and residents and runs until June 28.
This year, it has has been moved from its previous position over Lake Wakatipu to Steamer Wharf.
Today: Winter Wonderland Ice rink, Village Green, from 10amSpark Digital Business Lunch - Skyline, 12 noonAmerican Express opening party - Earnslaw Park, 5.30pm
Tomorrow: Winter Wonderland Ice rink, Village Green, from 10amGolden Mile, CBD, 12 noonFestival Street Parade, 12 noonFrisbee Golf, Queenstown Gardens, 12.30pmMountain Bikes on Snow, Coronet Peak, 11amComedy debate, Queenstown Event Centre, 8pm (tables sold out, general admission available.)Ice Hockey, Southern Stampede v Canterbury Red Devils, Queenstown Ice Arena, 7pmAcoustic night, Earnslaw Park, 5pm