25 Jun 2011

Thousands at Queenstown festival opening

8:27 am on 25 June 2011

The opening of the Queenstown Winter Festival has attracted a big crowd, despite a lack of snow.

Festival organiser Simon Green says about 15,000 people turned a fireworks display on Friday night that opened the event.

Warm temperatures have delayed the opening of Queenstown skifields and Mr Green says it was feared tourists would be kept away because of flight disruption caused by volcanic ash.

However, he says the town was packed with people wanting to enjoy the start of what is the southern hemisphere's biggest winter party.

A festival parade takes place in Queenstown on Saturday.