snow sculpture in japan

8 Amazing Winter Festivals

Sample these Global Hotspots for Cold-Weather Fun

Are you thinking about how you’ll survive another long, cold winter with the holidays behind us and springtime months away? Well, there’s no better way to celebrate the winter solstice’s snow, ice and chilly temperatures than with a journey around the globe to see some of the most fun-filled winter festivals in the world – with help from an expert travel agent of course.

Every year, thousands of people converge on cities (large and small) that host festivals and special events that range from religious and traditional to unique and downright quirky celebrations. Here are a few winter festivals you should consider visiting this year.

Carnival (Venice, Italy) 

Venice’s famous Carnival celebration is a dressy affair, where everyone is donned in elaborate colonial-era costumes and masks. You never know who you’ll meet as you stroll the city’s narrow cobblestone streets in costume! Parades, masquerade balls and live entertainment are just part of the annual celebration. And one of Vacation’s expert travel agents can help you plan an unforgettable trip to Venice. Just remember that Venice’s annual Carnival starts 40 days before Easter and ends one day before Ash Wednesday.

Carnival in Venice Italy
Carnival (Venice, Italy)

Las Fallas (Valencia, Spain) 

Las Fallas, one of Spain’s most popular winter festivals, is unique immersion experience rooted in Spanish culture and traditions. The festival’s focus is the creation of ninots, giant puppets resembling politicians, celebrities and pop culture figures. Plan your vacation (or possible honeymoon) in time to see the lively shows and colorful parades that poke fun at the ninots. Locals and people from nearby town’s work year-round creating elaborate works of art, only to have them destroyed in a huge bonfire known as La Crema. The crowd votes and only one lucky ninot is spared a fiery ending.

Las Fallas in Valencia, Spain
Las Fallas (Valencia, Spain)

Chinese New Year Celebrations (China) 

After you’ve celebrated the New Year in the United States, you can travel to China to witness how they start a new year in style. In addition to experience a spread of delicious local dishes, Chinese New Year celebrations – usually held between January and February – also feature parades, fireworks and traditional cultural experiences in virtually every city in the country.  A China travel specialist can help you arrange a memorable Chinese New Year vacation to experience a celebration in the city or an intimate event in a small city or village.

Chinese New Year Dragon Dance
CHinese NEW YEAR Celebration (CHINA)

Sapporo Snow Festival (Sapporo, Japan)

 If your idea of wintry fun involves ice and snow sculptures, then you should consider a trip to  Sapporo, Japan. This spectacular festival features 200 amazing sculptures that defy description. Entire buildings and famous public figures have been immortalized in ice or snow, including former New York Yankees star Hideki Matsui. Looking for more winter fun? Add a visit Sapporo’s Odori Park and Satoland amusement park to your trip itinerary, too!

Taj Mahal Ice Sculpture at Sapporo Snow Festival
SapPoro SnOW festival (Sapporo, Japan)

Quebec Winter Carnival  (Quebec City, Canada) 

Looking for a winter trip that features a step back in time? Consider planning a trip to the Quebec Winter Carnival, held annually in Quebec City every February. More than a century old, this Carnival features traditional events, including canoe-racing on the icy St. Lawrence River. After cheering on racers, visitors can warm up with a cup of caribou, a local specialty composed of red wine, hard liquor and maple syrup or sugar. Later, marvel at the carnival’s world-class snow sculpture festival, a trip to see Bonhomme’s Ice Palace, and then bundle up to see a colorful night parade.

Ice canoe race in Quebec
Quebec Winter Carnival (QUebec City, Canada) 

Whitefish Winter Carnival (Whitefish, Montana)

Travelers seeking a fun and hip winter travel experience will find it at the Whitefish Winter Carnival in Montana. Your journey to Whitefish, a gateway to Glacier National Park, will give you a front-row seat to a spirited celebration that includes cold-weather activities. Combine two Montana staples – horses and skiing – and try your hand at skijoring, a sport where skiers are pulled by a horse. For the adrenaline-junkie travelers, consider taking a chilly did into Whitefish Lake for to raise money for charity at the annual Penguin Plunge. The Whitefish Winter Carnival is usually held the second week in January.

skijoring
Whitefish Winter Carnival (Whitefish, Montana) 

Fur Rendezvous Festival (Anchorage, Alaska)

Alaska naturally comes up when contemplating where to plan a fun winter vacation. So, plan your next winter trip to Anchorage to witness the 10-day Fur Rendezvous Festival. Cheer on sled dog racers, and join dozens of other outdoor enthusiasts in kitschy winter thrills, including snowshoe softball, and yes, even outhouse races. Continue the winter revelry by entering your whiskers in the annual beard and mustache contest, and later witness the Running of the Reindeer, a tranquil take on Pamplona's Running of the Bulls.

Fur Rendezvous Festival in Anchorage, Alaska
Fur rendezvous festival (anchorage, alaska)

Snow Monster Festival (Yamagata, Japan)

The icy creatures found at the Snow Monster Festival are actually part of a natural phenomenon. Wintry winds whip snow into giant beast-like shapes. Usually scheduled during the first weekend in February, this free festival at the Zao Onsen offers visitors an eerie spectacle as the “monsters” are illuminated each night by brightly colored lights. The festival also includes the Glide of Torches, where a thousand skiers glide down the slope with two torches in both hands, or take a rejuvenating dip in three different hot springs. Don’t miss seeing the night sky light up with fireworks every night while indulging on sake and ramen sold by nearby street vendors. 

Inspired by this article and want to speak with an expert travel agent about how you can plan an unforgettable winter festival getaway? Let one of Vacation’s on-call travel experts match you with an expert travel agent who can customize the dream trip itinerary you deserve.

Snow Monster Festival in Yamagata, Japan
SNOW monster festival (yamagata, Japan)
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