LUMA Queenstown Light Festival: Review and Visitor Info

luma queenstown light festival

The LUMA Festival Queenstown is a display of lights within the Botanical Gardens in Queenstown, New Zealand. This annual event is organized and sponsored only by the community and is a free event for everyone to enjoy. After visiting LUMA Queenstown 2018 for myself I have written this review including useful information for visiting.

LUMA Light Festival, Queenstown, NZ

Daniel and I recently attended the LUMA Queenstown Light Festival. Once the sun went down, we bundled up in our warmest winter gear and headed to the Botanical Gardens to experience what is considered to be one of Queenstown’s best events.

What is LUMA Queenstown?

It is a display of lights, installations, and activities spread throughout the Botanical Gardens. There are a variety of things to do and see – especially for families and kids.

The event is completely community sponsored and due to its success since starting in 2015, has grown every year. New installations are added and more visitors show up. Luma Queenstown not only gets Queenstown locals out of their homes on a chilly winter night, but also brings tourists from all over the country!

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Luma queenstown light festival
Walking around LUMA

What are the main attractions?

Some of the things that I thought were the coolest at LUMA Queenstown were:

  • A pop-up mini movie theatre – In a small sheltered dome this little theatre provided a warm and comfy place for people to relax from walking around in the cold for a while
  • Markets and food stalls throughout – The entrance to the Botanical Gardens is lined with little market stalls selling food and other unique items, but there are also some stalls spread throughout LUMA. If you get hungry or just need a warm drink, likely, you won’t be far from a food van!
  • Ice sculptures – I am always amazed by ice sculptures, super cool to check out!
  • Fairies to interact with kids – There were a few people dressed up and fairies and all lit up! They seemed to be a fun treat for the kids.
  • A light tunnel – A light tunnel always makes for a cool photo!
  • Live music – There was a band playing as soon as we entered on a stage lit up with Queenstown as the backdrop.
  • Walk-through jellyfish installation – Seemingly simple but pretty cool looking. You walk through a room of lit up jellyfish. This one was a crowd stopper as it was always very busy in there.
luma light tunnel light festival
Walking through the light tunnel
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What does LUMA cost?

LUMA is completely free!

That being said, there are places to make donations throughout the event as well as lots of different things to buy from market stalls –so bring some money regardless.

What are the dates?

LUMA runs annually on the Queen’s Birthday long weekend in May. For exact dates, check out their website.

Is LUMA for adults, or just kids and families?

While LUMA is primarily for families, this year there was a pop-up bar! On Saturday night the pop-up bar was even featuring a DJ. So, if you want to have a few drinks and enjoy the lights at the same time LUMA Queenstown had made this possible! The pop-up bar did bring an adult crowd.

lum queenstown festival of lights

What did I personally think of LUMA?

I thought the LUMA Light Festival was pretty neat. It was a good community event that definitely brought people together and gave them a reason to leave their homes. The streets of Queenstown were full the entire weekend of LUMA so I think it did attract a large number of people.

It reminded somewhat of a Christmas light show display, which was kind of weird to have in May for me as I am from Canada where lights and Christmas and Winter all go together. But hey, this is New Zealand and the seasons are different, so why not right?

It was a fun event to check out for an hour or two, but to me, wasn’t worthy of a long visit or multiple visits.

Would I recommend going to LUMA?

If you are in the area, yes, absolutely! Like I said, it is quite fun and pretty! If you are already in or near Queenstown then you should definitely check it out for a couple of hours one night.

But, to be completely honest, I don’t think you should plan your Queenstown vacation around LUMA specifically.

Other tips for visiting the LUMA Light Festival

  • Dress warm – obviously! But, you would be surprised how many people were walking around freezing because they didn’t dress for the winter temperatures.
  • Don’t drive there expecting to get parking – parking in Queenstown is a nightmare on a normal weekend, let along when an event is on! Take public transport or be prepared to park far away and walk.
  • You aren’t allowed to bring pets
  • Go late in the evening for less of a crowd – I went around 7 pm and it was crazy busy, it was even hard to walk around! I would recommend going after 8 pm or even a bit later in hopes that the crowds will have died down slightly.

light festival in queenstown

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Overall, LUMA represents another fun event that the awesome community of Queenstown put on! For locals, these little events (although not spectacular) help make Queenstown such a fun place to live, creating entertainment and a sense of community.

Have you been to LUMA or a similar event elsewhere in the world? What did you think, was it amazing or just alright? Leave us a comment below!

Travelling in New Zealand? Check out all of our blogs about this awesome country here!

-Bailey

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