Festival to showcase 'coldest continent'

A multimillion-dollar festival celebrating New Zealand's connection with "the coldest continent" should receive a warm welcome in Christchurch, organisers say.

The New Zealand IceFest, a biennial celebration of the country's links with Antarctica, will be held in the city this year.

The festival will take place from September 14 to October 14 in the Hagley Park events village.

Festival director Jo Blair said the Christchurch City Council-organised event had been a "long time coming", with planning taking place over the past three years.

The event would focus on New Zealand's "world-leading" links to "the coldest continent", including Christchurch's role as a gateway for international exploration programmes, Blair said.

"We punch above our weight for such a small country, so a lot of scientific organisations are excited about showcasing the work they're doing down there." She said the first event would be aimed at domestic visitors, with the 2014 and 2016 festivals, also to be held in Christchurch, expanding to attract Australian and international tourists respectively.

"We want to show people that Christchurch is open and it's OK to come down, and that we've got positive events to celebrate here."

Festival costs were still being finalised, she said, but the budget for the first event was likely to be more than $2 million.

Blair said the Government had committed $800,000 of funding for the first two festivals through its Major Events Development Fund.

The city council had provided $250,000 for this year's festival. Canterbury University and Tait Communications were among event sponsors.

The Hagley Park events village would be transformed into an "ice station", complete with an ice-skating rink and Antarctic huts. A speakers' series at the village would include talks about the history of Antarctica and the work being done there, she said.

An icy opportunity

Christchurch residents with an Antarctic connection are being asked to volunteer for a new festival in the city.

The New Zealand IceFest, to be held in the Hagley Park events village from September 14 to October 14, will celebrate New Zealand's links with Antarctica.

Festival director Jo Blair said organisers wanted Christchurch residents with an Antarctic connection to volunteer at the festival.

The city had a "rich history" with Antarctica, she said. "When you start finding out just how many people there are with one degree of separation with Antarctica, it blows you away. They're everywhere in our city."

Blair said volunteers did not need to have visited Antarctica, but had to have a genuine link.

Residents who wanted to be considered as a volunteer needed to be able to explain their Antarctic connection and why they would like to volunteer.

To register your interest, email nzicefestvolunteers@ccc.govt.nz.

The Press