Everyone knows that Queenstown is the adventure capital of the world. With so much to see and do down in Queenstown, it’s perhaps no surprise that the city is also a place that is buzzing with events every year. Whilst you can find a list of all these events on great website like Eventfinda, we wanted to make live easier for you and pull together a comprehensive list of the best Queenstown events for 2020 – the ones you really shouldn’t miss if you get the opportunity to spend some time in that awesome city.

So, without further ado, here is the ultimate list of Queenstown events for 2020 – get your planning hat on!

1.      New Zealand Golf Open – 27 February – 1 March

2020 will see the New Zealand Golf Open celebrate its 101st year and this year promises to be another cracker. Heald over four days at the end of February, not only does the NZ Golf Open welcome some of the best golfers from across Australasia, it also offers an opportunity for amateurs to play alongside those professionals across the four days.

Amateurs come from all walks of life, however included in the field are a number of sporting celebrities who love the opportunity to play alongside the professionals. Some of the big names playing this year include former All Black Israel Dagg, former Aussie leg spinner Shame Warne, cricketers Stephen Fleming and Sir Ian Botham and NRL superstar Larry Fitzgerald.

If you’re a golfing fan, this is a must-do on your event list for 2020. You can find out more about Golf in New Zealand in our comprehensive Activity Guide.


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2.      Macpac Motatapu – 14-15 March

Each year for one weekend, the pristine trails of the Motatapu welcomes thousands of athletes to experience one of New Zealand’s favourite off-road sporting events.

The Macpac Motatapu race allows exclusive access to the high country that sits between Wanaka and Queenstown as you race through some of the most stunning scenery in New Zealand.

There are seven amazing events to choose from, including a new two day event. The Sawpit is the shortest route – an 8.5km run or walk which is a favourite with the locals. On the opposite end of the scale, if you’re super fit and want to take on a true challenge, try the Ultra Run – a 51km course which can be tackled as a team or solo.

If running is not your thing, there is also a 47km mountain bike course too as well as a triathlon course.


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3.      Queenstown Adventure Festival – 19 March

When you’re known as the adventure capital of the world, it’s no surprise to find an Adventure Festival right here in Queenstown. This is the first time the Queenstown Adventure Festival has been organised and whilst the festival does include some adventure activities like hiking and other mountain activities, it’s a festival that celebrates those who truly embody the adventurous spirit.

Held at Coronet Peak, the Festival will showcase an exclusive preview of Warren Miller’s 70th Anniversary film ‘Timeless’ and is then followed by an all-star line-up of adventure speakers including Olympic Gold Medallist Jonny Moseley, X-Games Medallist Andreu Lacondeguy and Adventure Researcher at Otago University, Patrick Boudreau.

It promises to be a wonderful evening of activities and entertainment as Coronet Peak is transformed with bean bags, fire pits and drinks tents. This is a FREE event but with high demand, it’s best to get your ticket booked now.

4.      Arrowtown Autumn Festival – 16-20 April

OK so this one is not technically in Queenstown, however just a short 20-minute drive will take you to nearby Arrowtown where you can join in with the spectacular autumn celebrations. This year the festival will celebrate its 36th year and attracts locals and visitors alike to explore this beautiful town at the most colourful time of the year.

Arrowtown is one of the best places in New Zealand to enjoy the stunning autumnal colours and the Autumn Festival is a great opportunity to not only check out the beautiful trees but also get involved in some of the events and activities taking place over the four days including a festival fun run, outdoor movies, a duck race and the ever-popular Pie, Pint and Pinot event.

Find out more and book your trip to see some of the best autumnal colours here in New Zealand.


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5.      Warbirds over Wanaka – 10-12 April

Warbirds over Wanaka bills itself as the ‘World’s Most Unique Airshow’ and it’s a festival that has been entertaining thousands of people every year since 1988. From modest beginnings – the first event attracted around 14,000 people – the event has now grown into a biennial event that attracts over 50,000 people every two years.

Warbirds over Wanaka is the largest Warbird Airshow in the Southern hemisphere and provides people with an opportunity to see these amazing flying machines up close and personal. The airshow is a display of some magnificent vintage airplanes coupled with a display of amazing flying skills from all the pilots involved.

As well as a full air programme over the Easter weekend, there is also a ground programme which includes military vehicles including the famous Warhorses.

This is an event not to be missed and well worth the one-hour drive over the Crown Range and down into Wanaka.


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Queenstown City Guide

6.      Queenstown Winter Festival – Cancelled 2020

One of the biggest events of the year down in Queenstown is the Winter Festival. It’s one that goes in the calendar very early for most people and whether you live in Queenstown or you simply love winter sports – Queenstown is the place to be in late June every year.

Whilst a lot of the festival events and activities take place up the mountain, there is plenty on offer for those who are not into skiing and snowboarding. The Festival Village always has something going on, from live music to dodgeball competitions to winter markets. The Comedy Night is one of the highlights of the festival with great comedians from around New Zealand and beyond.

The Festival highlight for many is the annual Skycity Ball which is held at a secret location every year.

With the uncertainty around the COVID-19 pandemic, the organisers have made the difficult but pragmatic decision for their community and cancelled the Real Journeys Queenstown Winter Festival for 2020. Whilst it’s a huge shame, the organisers have already started planning for 2021 which promises to be bigger and better than ever.


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7.      New Zealand Mountain Film Festival – 26-28 June

Every year, the Central Otago region welcomes the annual Mountain Film Festival. 2020 is a strange year for events, with many fantastic events already cancelled. Thankfully, and due to the hard work of the amazing organisers, the New Zealand Mountain Film Festival will still be going ahead as a reduced 3-day event in Queenstown and Wanaka.

The books and films on show at the Mountain Film Festival tell stories of adventure sports, foreign cultures, remote travels and environmental issues. It’s a 3-day celebration of adventurous sports and lifestyle and will be in Queenstown for three amazing days at the end of June.

Sponsored by The North Face and Lumix, this is a pretty unique event and one that will really appeal to those who love adventure activities. Get inspired this year at the Mountain Film Festival.

8.      Winter Pride – 28 August – 6 September

Winter Pride is a festival that celebrates love, community, diversity, visibility, safety and inclusion. It’s a festival that is jam-packed with amazing events including some of New Zealand and Australia’s best DJs, dance parties, skiing, snowboarding and mountain walks.

Queenstown is the perfect host for this fantastic 10-day festival across two weekends. With more than 4,500 tickets sold every year and thousands more enjoying the free and non-ticketed events, this has become one of the hottest festivals in New Zealand.

The event usually welcomes thousands of visitors from Australia and whilst we are still awaiting news of a possible Tras-Tasman bubble due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this is a great chance to support a fantastic local event. If you missed out on the Queenstown Winter Festival, this is a great alternative and Queenstown is guaranteed to be buzzing throughout the festival.

GO Rentals have been proud sponsors of the event for the past two years and we look forward to supporting the event again in 2020.


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9.      David Reid Homes Peak to Peak –  12 September

The Peak to Peak is New Zealand’s biggest multi-sport one-day challenge, held in Queenstown every year. It’s an event that tests competitors mentally and physically and is the longest running event of its kind in the country.

Competitors can enter the race as an individual, tandem or relay team and all competitors face five amazing stages that begin and end in Queenstown’s famous ski resorts – The Remarkables and Coronet Peak.

The events include skiing or snowboarding, mountain biking, kayaking, running and the final leg sees you get back on the bike for a gruelling finish to the race, climbing from Arthurs Point to Coronet Peak.

10. Alexandra Blossom Festival – 25-27 September

The historic Alexandra Blossom Festival has marked the arrival of spring for the past 64 years. In 2019, the festival welcomed over 10,000 people to celebrate the start of spring, with the blossoms in full bloom.

Alexandra is located just a short drive from Queenstown and is known for its contribution to both the summer fruits and wool industries. Both of these industries form a central part of the celebrations over the three-day festival period.

Events at the festival are wide-ranging and include live music, mountain races, parades and freestyle motorcross displays. If you can’t make it to the Arrowtown Festival to celebrate autumn, head on down to Queenstown in spring for the Alexandra Blossom Festival.


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11. Queenstown Jazzfest – 24-25 October

If you’re a fan of jazz music, don’t miss the Queenstown Jazz Festival which features music from Wakatipu High School, Zinco, Queenstown Jazz Orchestra, Beats on Anticipation, Turtle Funk and Sam Manzanza’s Afrobeat Band.

Queenstown JazzFest is a community-owned event which has been running since 1978. It has grown to become one of Queenstown’s premier springtime events providing locals and visitors with a programme of top-quality entertainment from local and national artists.

With over 40 free events to attend over the festival weekend as well as ticketed concerts, there is plenty for everyone to enjoy from smooth blues to big band swing, Dixieland to funk bands, traditional jazz to ground-breaking contemporary concepts.

Mark the date in your diary jazz fans!

12. Queenstown Marathon – 21 November

Billing itself as the ‘World’s Most Beautiful Marathon’, Queenstown certainly ticks off a lot of boxes for marathon enthusiasts. Set in the absolutely stunning surrounds of Queenstown, the Queenstown Marathon is set to the backdrop of the renowned Crown and Remarkables mountain ranges. Whilst Queenstown is well-known for its mountainous terrain, this marathon trail is truly flat and takes you on hard packed cycle trails.

November is a great time of the year to visit Queenstown – just as the summer is around the corner but there is still snow on the high peaks making for a truly spectacular course to run a marathon. As you would expect, the Queenstown marathon is about much more than the race itself.  Once your race is run, there are some brilliant social events and activities that will keep your adrenaline going long after you cross the finish line.

It’s not just about the marathon either. There are four distances to choose from including 42.2km, 21km, 10km and 3km. Last year’s event was a complete sell out so make sure you get in early this year and take advantage of some early bird specials.


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13. Rhythm and Alps – 31 December

Rounding off an amazing year of events in Queenstown is Rhythm and Alps – a festival to bring in the New Year and celebrate everything that has been great about 2020. This year will represent the 10th anniversary of Rhythm and Alps and it promised to be bigger and better than ever.

This is a premier music festival which has quickly grown to be one of the best music festivals in the Southern Hemisphere. With crowds of over 10,000 gathering to celebrate the New Year, the festival has some of the best sound and lighting production New Zealand has to offer.

The line-up for 2020 has yet to be announced but make sure you keep a close eye on their website – once the artist list for 2020 drops, those tickets are going to be flying out like hot cakes!


So, there we have it – 13 of the best Queenstown events for 2020 and what a line-up we have for you. With something going on every month, there is never a bad time to visit Queenstown and with a bit of careful planning, you can be attending some of the biggest and best events in New Zealand.

With the COVID-19 pandemic wiping out a lot of tourism activity in Queenstown and with no international visitors entering the country for the short-mid term, there has never been a better time to back your backyard and support all those local businesses in and around Queenstown that are feeling the pinch this year. With so many amazing events still scheduled for the second half of the year, there are plenty of excuses to pay a visit to the adventure capital of the world and explore all it has to offer.

If it’s been a while since your last visit to Queenstown, pick out some of your favourite events from our list above and get planning. If you need advice on where to stay, where to eat and what to do, make sure you check out our Complete Guide to Queenstown with lots of great tips from locals.

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