Winter Pride gets social

3 minutes read
Posted 10 July, 2024
Screenshot 2023 09 08 104620

Winter Pride directors Sam Coulthard, right, and Odette Rose

Winter Pride organisers are changing it up for 2024 with the return of Pride in the Park and many more laid back social events on the calendar.

Queenstown-based Sam Coulthard and Odette Rose have taken over the biggest Pride festival in the southern hemisphere going forward, after owners Martin King and Mike Hughes sold up after six years at the helm.

The 11 day bash runs from 22 August to 1 September, and is expected to bring thousands to town for on-mountain events at The Remarkables, Coronet Peak and Cardrona Alpine Resort, and dozens of après-ski events, including club nights, drag shows and parties.

And Coulthard, who has been involved in the festival for years, says the plan is also to reintroduce the popular Pride in the Park, as the festival celebrates its 21st birthday.

"It's a few years since we held Pride in the Park, but it's such a great part of the festival that we wanted to bring it back," he says.

"We feel strongly there should be a way for the community to get involved, and people shouldn't be excluded because they can't afford to come to the ticketed events or get up the mountain. Pride in the Park is very expensive to put on, a loss leader really, and you have to get all your ducks in a row with council consents, liquor licensing, and everything like that, which we're working through now, but we had 4000 people down at the lakefront for the last one, so we want to make it happen."

The plan is for Pride in the Park to be held on Marine Parade, Queenstown Bay, from 12pm-8pm on the first Saturday, 24 August. Coulthard says there'll also be more day social events on the calendar.

"We want to provide something for everyone. The younger generation of New Zealanders love their drum and bass, tech house, that sort of thing, so we have Camp Base at Seek on the first Friday night, and we have the big parties, the opening night Lavender Lounge party at the Memorial Centre, a Western AF night at Cowboys, our Final Party at the Events Centre, and cocktail nights, DJ nights etc.

"But we're also including lots of more chilled events, such as brunches, long lunches, bowling, ice skating, roller disco, game nights, karaoke, charity runs, mountain walks, our colour run, photography workshops. Lots of people who come want to get involved but also save some energy of skiing and ticking off those Queenstown bucket list items like bungy jumping."

Ticket sales are tracking reasonably, he says, although often you don't get a real sense of numbers until nearer the time, and inflation is putting pressure on spending and also the cost of putting on an event like Winter Pride. Two of the largest 2023 sponsors have pulled pin this year, which means the festival is even more reliant on ticket sales.

One of the new initiatives for 2024 is Spread The Rainbow: A Beacon of Hope in the Storm, plans to help people from the LGBTQIA+ community who are struggling emotionally and financially.

Those who can afford it can buy a Spread The Rainbow ticket, allowing a young queer or trans person to attend an event for free. Winter Pride is also giving away 100 tickets for its final party.

Coulthard says with rise in queer youth suicide and violence, against a backdrop of toxic social media rhetoric, the initiative is about fostering belonging and enabling people to connect with others in a safe and inclusive environment. The tickets will be distributed through local queer clubs, rainbow youth groups, and educational institutions.

It's part of Winter Pride's broader efforts, working with organizations like the Burnett Foundation and Netsafe.

For more information visit www.winterpride.co.nz. Tickets are available at humanitix.com

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