Queenstown’s Snow Machine Festival was an Off-Piste Après Adventure
Not to brag, but I’ve partied in some pretty exotic places throughout my rave career. Whether it’s the forests of Thailand, the deep deserts of America, the rolling hills of England or the barren lands of Australia, this booty has boogied across the globe. Unfortunately, the pandemic put the breaks on my passion for destination dance adventures, having to settle for live DJ sets on Youtube for the past three years. So when the opportunity to attend Snow Machine festival in Queenstown came across my desk, I dove on it faster than an All-Black with white line fever (that rugby reference doesn’t exactly make sense, but you get the point – I was excited). Now, having returned to the office with fewer brain cells but many memories, allow me to walk you through the wild ride that is Snow Machine.
To sum up the event, it’s four days of music, snow and après adventure. While music and snow are pretty self-explanatory, I had no idea what aprè-ski was before attending the festival. Luckily, I met a couple of very friendly (and attractive) influencers – who often holiday at the finest European ski resorts – that were happy to educate an uncultured neanderthal like myself. Quite literally, apré-ski translates to “after ski” in French, and these days it involves partying on the mountains after a day on the slopes. Having now experienced this decadent tradition, I can say the aprè vibes were my highlight of the trip. Immersed in Queenstown picture-Esque scenery, it combines three of life’s great pastimes: day drinking, dancing and skiing.
The day activities ran across two mountains: Coronet Peak and The Remarkables. Each morning, we’d grab our ski gear and hit some runs before settling in for an afternoon of beers and boogying (or as nouveau snow snobs like myself call it: après-ski). My two big takeaways from the daytime activities are as follows: people over 30 shouldn’t snowboard (grow up, guys), and Queenstown offers some of the best views on the planet. I’ll leave my elderly snowboarding rant for another day, but it’s worth recapping just how magical those afternoons partying on the mountain were. To paint the picture, imagine a snowy day club overlooking New Zealand’s breathtaking landscape, and that’s essentially what Snow Machine was able to create. Now add delicious food, delectable drinks and DJ decks blasting only the biggest bangers known to man, and you have heaven on earth.
As the sun began to set each day, thousands of partygoers (either still dressed in their snow gear or a fresh outfit) would descend onto the festival grounds of Snow Machine. The first thing I noticed while watching the mainstage was the enthusiasm and energy expressed by all the artists. Both the acts on stage and the crowd had been locked up like caged animals during the pandemic, and it was apparent both parties were ready to make up for lost time, which as a result, created one of the best atmospheres I’d experienced at a live event. My only piece of advice for the festival would be to pack a pair of thin gloves, which prevent your hands from freezing while holding drinks during the chilly nights. However, I saw some crazy kiwis in singlets and shorts like it was Stereosonic Brisbane 2014.
The post-festival kick-ons are where the professionals separate themselves from the pretenders. If you’ve never been to Queenstown, it’s home to an endless supply of bars, clubs and pubs – making it the perfect playground for loose units to finish each night in style. We’d warm up the dancing shoes at The World Bar each evening before sending it next door at Vinyl Underground. The World Bar is a pretty standard club vibe where you can have a cheeky boogy and talk rubbish with friends. However, Vinyl Underground is all business – set in a dark, dingy room lit only with strobe lights and vape smoke, playing soul-altering techno till the early hours of the morning. Give it a crack if you dare…
In conclusion, Snow Machine offers something for everyone. Whether you’re a party animal, thrill seeker, music lover or perhaps all three, the festival is an adventure of a lifetime and should definitely make the bucket list. Best of all, Queenstown provides the ultimate scenic playground, perfectly juxtaposed with the mass of wild debauchery taking place each day. See you next year.
For more information, head to the Snow Machine website. Check out more images below.