Arrowtown Autumn Festival returns for its 38th year

3 minutes read
Posted 24 April, 2024
2023 hero shot Belles

Thursday marks the start of the annual Arrowtown Autumn Festival. This year’s programme will feature much-loved classics and some exciting new things, with something for everyone. There’s over 40 events across the four days with many community groups involved.

The festival attracts a number of locals and visitors to Arrowtown at one of the prettiest and most colourful times of year. Some of the long-held festival traditions include the official opening ceremony, the Bayleys Arrowtown Festival Parade, ASB Market Day and Pie, Pint and Pinot. Catherine Fallon is the festival coordinator and says that this is an event run by the community, for the community, and that’s the way they’d like to keep it.

“We’ll be showcasing our amazing local talent, and that’s one of the core focuses for our committee and the purpose of the festival is to have local performers,” Fallon says. “We use a mix from preschool to adult community groups, so we can give them all an opportunity to perform on the main stage in front of lots of people. It’s quite a good opportunity for up-and-coming artists to show off their performances throughout the programme.”

One of the new events this year is the Mora Dinner with The Breeze. Artisan Kitchen will provide a delicious autumn-style three-course dinner while Mora Wines will offer a wine match. There’s also The Art of Wine event at Bonham Gallery where Jason Bonham will talk about his passion for arts and design, while local Sommelier Candice Chow will facilitate an engaging Mora Wines tasting session. There’s plenty for the kids, too.

“We’re partnering with Creative Queenstown and they’re bringing the Land of the Long Long Drive. It’s a kids show, and they did a puppet show last year that was really successful – to have other arts events within our programme run by external parties. We’ve added in a new pumpkin growing competition this year, which will be quite fun. We have heaps of great workshops – the Kids’ Art Workshop, which is an outdoor-style workshop, a balloon workshop, a juggling one. There’s a whole range of activities to fill in the school holidays.”

There’ll also be a celebration of the unsung hero – someone who has contributed significantly to the town, which will be announced during the festival. A window dressing competition has also been introduced this year, encouraging local businesses to get behind the Autumn theme and dress their windows up in a creative way.

“We’re also partnering with the school and Lee van der Geest, who’s an artist, to do a couple of workshops with year 8 students at Arrowtown Primary to create some beautiful sculptures made out of harvest vines. We’ll be displaying these on Buckingham Green and then we’re going to auction them off. All those proceeds will go back to the school. Lee has also done some pretty cool street decorations for us, which she did last year as well.”

There are a number of community groups fundraising this year. The Duck Race and Scarecrow Trail are fundraisers for the junior rugby club and cricket club, and the Market Day features community stalls that will be raising funds for their respective group. You’ll also spot painted rocks around town as Arrowtown pre-school and Whakatipu Wild School students have decorated and hidden them. The hope is for people to find them when out walking and encourage them to add painted stones as well.

There’s much more happening in the jam-packed schedule and it’s lovely to see how far the event has come from its humble beginnings. Originally starting as harvest celebration aimed at bringing town and country together, it’s now evolved into the vibrant festival that we know and love. It’s run by a volunteer committee that are really passionate about Arrowtown.

“It’s pretty exciting that we’re still standing – there are a lot of community events that aren’t. […] We’re always looking for new passionate people that want to be involved in the community. We’ve got a great committee going so far, but it really is just a good grassroots community event, which we hope continues into the future.”

Arrowtown Autumn Festival will run from Thursday 25 to Sunday, 28 April. 70% of the events are free to attend, although some require registration such as the Outdoor Movie, which is already at capacity.

The full programme can be seen and event bookings made (where required) at


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