While winter has a reputation for cold weather and short days with early nights, it is also known to be a time of celebration. Many cities around the world host massive winter events that are sure to continue the holiday cheer beyond December. To highlight the world’s top winter celebrations, Tripping.com compiled a list of standout winter festivals that are as fun for visitors as they are for locals.
1. Sapporo Snow Festival - Sapporo, Japan
Every year, about 2 million visitors head to Sapporo, Japan to experience first hand the Sapporo Snow Festival. During this yearly event, the city transforms into a winter wonderland complete with wintery ice sculptures and whimsical white and blue lights. Three sites around the city, the Odori Park, the Community Dome Tsudome and the main street of Susukino, are open to artists who display absolutely incredible ice sculptures. Visit Sapporo to see for yourself!
When: From February 5th until February 11th (the Tsudome Site is open until the 18th)
Where: Sapporo, Japan
2. Quebec Winter Carnival - Quebec City, Canada
The Quebec Winter Festival offers over a whopping 200 activities for visitors, with the main highlight being a snow sculpture competition as well as a night parade in Charlsbourg. Any visit to this festival should include seeing Bonhomme’s Ice Palace, an immense palace structure made of ice and ornately decorated with colorful lights. Have you ever watched an ice canoeing race? Well the carnival might be the best opportunity you’ll ever get to see one. This year, the Quebec Winter Festival also has a human bowling, where a person sits inside a large inflatable ball and has to knock down the pins.
When: January 29th to February 14th
Where: Plains of Abraham, Quebec City Canada
3. Horizon Festival - Bansko, Bulgaria
All of the other festivals in this list have been child-friendly events that most people would find extremely entertaining. But if you’re in your twenties (or 30s, we don’t judge), you might be looking for a festival with more of a party atmosphere, and the Horizon Festival is perfect for that. This massive ski-centric party includes over 120 DJs from around the world. If you’re not too hung-over, there are also 75 thousand miles of slopes waiting to be ridden. That being said, I personally would hit up the hot tub cinema at least once. This festival is definitely where you want to be if you are young and single.
When: From March 12th until March 17th
Where: Bansko, Bulgaria - citywide
4. Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival - Harbin, China
Held in Harbin, China, this is the most popular winter attraction in the world. The massive Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival hosts many different activities and attractions, which draw in millions of tourists each year. The festival is divided into four different theme parks: one of them hosts the famous snow sculptures while another theme park is dedicated to a picturesque lantern fair, which features vibrantly colored lantern lights. The two other theme parks are marked by large buildings made of ice.
When: December 20th until late February
Where: The western part of the Sun Island, Songbei District
5. Banff SnowDays - Banff, Canada
The gorgeous Banff National Park is known for hosting many festivals, with the standout being SnowDays. This festival has activities for all members of the family and allows visitors to enjoy whichever winter activity they prefer. To warm up during your day outdoors, head to the hot springs and bonfires throughout the park and get your exercise in enjoying any one of your favorite winter sports. If it works with your schedule, try to go make it for SnowDays’ opening weekend, which will include a party with live performances.
When: January 15 until February 7th
Where: Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada
Zehnder’s Snowfest is the premier snow sculpting event in the United States. Visitors can look forward to massive ice sculptures as well as activities for the whole family, with the coolest family activity being the snow sculpting classes. With fireworks displays and a petting zoo, Zehnder’s Snowfest is one of a kind. 2016 is a great year to visit Zehnder’s because it marks its 25-year anniversary. Treat yourself to a Midwest visit this New Year with a trip to Zehnder’s Snowfest.
When: January 27th until February 1st
Where: 1365 S. Main Street Frankenmuth, MI 48734
7. SNÖFESTIVALEN - Kiruna, Sweden
To end our list, we’re going to bring it back to Europe with SNÖFESTIVALEN. This family-oriented festival focuses on Swedish culture, offering visitors the opportunity to enjoy competitive winter sports like dog sledding and snowboarding. There are also many activities organized for kids, which should keep the little ones entertained throughout your time at the festival. As with many of the other festivals, one of the highlights of SNÖFESTIVALEN is the snow sculpting competition.
When: January 27th to January 30th
Where: Gruvvägen 1, 981 31 Kiruna, Sweden
This article was written by Amid Bennaim
Hero Image Credit: Stella Caraman