If you’re looking for a really unique family vacation idea, you can’t beat one of these best winter festivals around the world. These events draw massive crowds for a good reason. From breathtaking snow and sculpture displays to incredible parades, they’ll elicit “oohs” and “ahs” from even the most stone-faced teenager. Since most of these festivals take place over the course of several days, you can plan an entire vacation around them or just pop in on your way through the area. Check out a few of our picks for winter festivals that everyone should see at least once in their lives!
5 Best Winter Festivals Around the World
The Sapporo Snow Festival
The Sapporo Snow Festival takes place annually in Sapporo, Japan and lasts for 7 days, usually the 2nd week in February. The festival attracts millions of visitors each year and takes place over three different sites: Odori, Tsu Dome and Susukino. The event began in 1950 and the main feature of the festival is the hundreds of snow statutes and ice sculptures.
The Quebec Winter Carnival
The Quebec Winter Carnival takes place annually in Quebec City and lasts for 2 weeks, usually the end of January to beginning of February. The festival began in 1955 and features the International Snow Sculpture Competition in the Plains of Abraham within The Battlefields Park, the Snow Bath and the Ice Canoe Race on the St. Lawrence River. The main attractions of the festival are the parades, which take place during the day as well as at night, featuring Bonhomme Carnaval, the mascot of the festival.
The Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival
The Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival takes place annually in Harbin, China and last for anywhere from 6 to 8 weeks, usually starting around the 5th of January. The festival began in 1985 and features some of the largest ice sculptures in the world. The festival is known as the world’s largest ice sculpture festivals, spreading out over 600,000 square meters. This ice and snow sculpture festival attracts between 10 and 15 million visitors from around the world each year.
The Shetland Viking Fire Festival
The Shetland Viking Fire Festival takes place annually in Lerwick, Scotland and lasts for 24 hours, usually on the last Tuesday in January. The festival started in the 1880’s and marks the end of the yule season, featuring a procession of folks dressed in Viking gear and one person is chosen to be The Guizer Jarl. The procession features an average of 900 Guizers who carry around 850 torches and ends with the torches being hurled into the Jarl’s galley.
The Whitefish Winter Carnival
The Whitefish Winter Carnival takes place annually in Whitefish, Montana and lasts for 3 days, usually in the beginning of February. The carnival began in 1958 and includes a Penguin Plunge, torchlight ski parade, ski races, ice sculpting, hockey tournament and pie social. The main attraction of the event is the World Ski Joring Championships, which takes place the weekend before the main carnival, at the Whitefish City Airport.
While any of these winter festivals would be amazing to see, we’re partial to the Sapporo Snow and Ice Festival and the Quebec Winter Carnival! Although I must admit, the Fire Festival does look pretty spectacular, doesn’t it?