News & Events

Winter Festival set to turn the heat up

Friday June 9 2017

A street-fest will be one of the highlights of Palmerston North’s Winter Festival. Palmerston North City Council is hosting the three-day festival on Wednesday 28 to Friday 30 June for locals and Lions rugby tour visitors to come together to celebrate winter and the importance of rugby to the city.

Photo shows museum director dwarfed by two gigantic photographic banners.

New Zealand Rugby Museum Director Stephen Berg with two of the photos in the exhibition that is one of the centrepieces of Palmerston North's rugby-themed Winter Festival.

As well as the two day street-fest in George Street other highlights are a concert by the Lions Male Voice Choir, an outdoor photographic exhibition, a world record rugby scrum attempt and a rugby match between historic rivals.

The New Zealand Rugby Museum is high on the must-see lists of rugby tourists, with 22 bus loads of visitors already confirmed. Museum Director Stephen Berg says its busiest days will be immediately before and after the Lions play the Hurricanes on Tuesday 27 June.

“The tourists on board the buses are not just from Britain and Ireland. Some of them are coming from Hong Kong and Singapore.

“We want the whole city to benefit from the tour,” says Berg. “We’re encouraging visitors to stay in Palmerston North once they’ve visited the museum, whether it’s spending a few hours or staying a few days to take in the city’s Winter Festival. We know some of the fans are basing themselves in Palmerston North during this leg of the tour and heading down to the capital for the game.”

As well as the tour buses, 1,600 touring camper vans filled with fans will make their way along State Highway One.

Palmerston North is also hosting the World in Union international conference for rugby academics, practitioners and educators that week.

“We warmly welcome our visitors and want to show them some great Manawatu hospitality,” says PNCC Community Engagement Manager Ian Littleworth. “The Winter Festival is also an opportunity for our community to get together and enjoy some of the planned events and activities.”

Winter Festival events

Rugby Showcase, Wednesday 28 June

Literally kicking of the Winter Festival is a fiercely fought battle for the King’s Cup. This is rugby rivalry at its best between the New Zealand Army and Royal New Zealand Air Force. 

King George V first awarded the cup to the New Zealand Army in 1919. A rugby tournament was held after World War One as soldiers waited for boats home. The New Zealand Army sides defeated teams from the “Mother Country”, South Africa, Canada and the Royal Air Force, losing only to the Australian Army. New Zealand Army then defeated Britain in the final.

Today the King’s Cup is played for annually between NZ Army, RNZAF and NZ Navy.

The match takes place at Central Energy Trust Arena at 2.45pm. The New Zealand Army Band will be on hand to entertain the crowd.

World’s Largest Scrum record attempt, Thursday 29 June

If you want to say you’re a world record holder, join in the World’s Largest Scrum attempt on Thursday 29 June. More than 1,565 participants are required to break the record held by Fukuroi in Japan. It takes place at Palmerston North Boys’ High School, with the public welcome to attend as participants and spectators from 12pm. Participants are asked to arrive early to register. The record attempt will happen at 1.30pm. Entry is free.

George Street Festival, Thursday 29 and Friday 30 June

A two-day street-fest in George Street is the highlight of the Winter Festival. George Street and Coleman Mall will be pedestrian-only, and open-sided marquees will straddle the street so people can socialise, enjoy live music, food and beverages, and hands-on, winter-themed activities.

Music lovers can enjoy a great line-up of artists on the main stage at the George Street Festival, including Auckland rock trio Brendon Thomas and The Vibes, the New Zealand Army Band, renowned Wellington-based Frank Burkitt Band, local band Truly Made, and musician Samir Loumachi.

Adding to the festive atmosphere on the Friday evening (30 June) is the Village Night Market. 

George Street is a culinary haven with its cafes and licensed restaurants and there will be selected food trucks parked on Coleman Mall from 4pm both days, so visitors will be spoilt for choice. A licensed bar will be operating in George Street from 4.30pm both days.

Activities and entertainment on both days: 11.30–1.30pm and 4–9.30pm. Entry is free.

Lions Male Voice Choir, Friday 30 June

Another festival highlight is the Lions Male Voice Choir performing at Palmerston North Conference & Function Centre at 2pm on Friday 30 June. The choir performed for the Lions squad before they left the UK. Palmerston North is one of four venues the choir will perform during its three-week tour supporting the Lions. The choir will be supported by Palmerston North Boys High School’s OK Chorale and Freyberg High School’s Bellas and Fellas. 

Tickets are $10 (plus fees) from TicketDirect.

Black Boots Legend outdoor photographic exhibition

Catching visitors’ and local eyes will be the Black Boots Legend gallery. This outdoor exhibition features 150 rugby images from the All Blacks 1972-73 European tour, as captured by photographer Barry Durant. The majority of the images will be on display outside Te Manawa until 12 July. 

The line-up of photographs creates a tunnel into Te Manawa and the New Zealand Rugby Museum. “It’s pretty exciting to have this exhibition at this time,” says Museum Director Stephen Berg. “We are experimenting with new materials, and making use of space we haven’t used before.”

Hanging from the rafters inside Te Manawa will be 20 large, single image banners depicting local players and All Black captains. On scaffolding outside will be 65 banners with two pictures each, printed on fabric. Adding further interest to the exhibition are individual labels written by sports commentator Phil Gifford, which detail the stories behind the pictures.

Other activity

Police road safety checkpoint

Central Districts Police are also welcoming tourists with a road safety checkpoint and fatigue stop at the Ohakea Weigh Station on 26 June from 10am–4pm. This will give touring drivers an opportunity to engage with local police, have a break with some food and refreshments, and learn about road safety issues. Contact for this is Inspector Brett Calkin, Central Districts Road Policing Manager.

Details about the Winter Festival are available at and the Palmerston North City Council Facebook page. #palmywinterfest