Winter festivals around the world

Winter Festivals Around the World

How do you celebrate winter? Are you welcoming that first snowfall with the happy thoughts of gathering around a crackling fire while sipping on hot chocolate? No one will blame you if you’re the type to dread shoveling the driveway, and sitting in the cold leather seats in your car as you take an adventurous drive to work. It’s amazing to think about how one person can derive such joy from the change of seasons, and others will count down the days until summer’s return. No matter which type of winter person you are, there are ways to make the best of the coldest season of the year. Ever considered traveling to take part in a winter festival? There are winter festivals around the world, all unique in how they celebrate this time of year.

Winter festivals around the world - Harbin Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival

The magical view of Harbin, China during their annual winter festival.

Your first potential stop is in the Chinese town of Harbin, which hosts an annual Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival from early January through late February. It’s nothing short of impressive to see some of these huge ice sculptures in person, with colorful light displays that dance off of the ice and snow. This winter festival hosts about 10 to 15 million visits every year, and there are three different venues for you to visit. You can even book a tour around seeing the festival, with a short ski trip thrown in there as well! If you’re interested in more details on planning your trip, you can read more about this festival here.

If we head about 6 hours east from Harbin, you’ll find yourself in Sapporo, Japan. The fifth largest city in Japan is well known for hosting the first winter Olympics in Asia (in 1972, if you’re curious!). This city is also known for the Sapporo Snow Festival, which started out as a small display of snow sculptures designed by a group of students in 1950. It has since evolved into a fun festival full of expertly crafted snow and ice sculptures on display for everyone to enjoy. There are plenty of food trucks and booths to enjoy along the path you’ll be walking to view the sculptures.

Once you’ve seen all that the Sapporo Snow Festival has to offer, you can enjoy some of the other winter activities within this city. There are several ski resorts to choose from, a hot spring resort you won’t want to pass on, and the Sapporo Beer Museum and Beer Garden.

Oh, Canada! Next up we have the Québec Winter Carnival. In what’s known as the “worldwide capital of snow”, the city of Quebec has a rich history in winter celebrations to ring in the new year. The very first Carnival took place back in 1955 when a group of businessmen were brainstorming how to drive economic growth in the region. This tradition has morphed over the years into the modern day Carnival, which includes all kinds of fun shenanigans. You can expect ice sculpture workshops, night parades, canoe races, an ice palace and more. The Carnival’s website teases more events to be announced in December, so keep an eye out as you’re planning your trip.

What about Europe? You’ve probably seen some of the gorgeous photos and short video clips shared on social media of European countries with unforgettable snowscapes. Switzerland in particular, is an excellent choice for a winter vacation. Nestled in the Bernese Alps, is a popular skiing village called Grindelwald, also home to the World Snow Festival. International artists gather in Switzerland to create breathtaking works of art with snow. These snow sculptures are unbelievable, an absolute must-see in person to fully appreciate what we imagine is a very difficult craft to master.

Winter festivals around the world - Grindelwald, Switzerland

It’s hard to beat the winter landscapes in Switzerland!

After you’ve admired all the snow sculptures the World Snow Festival has to offer, there are plenty of other fun, winter activities awaiting you in Switzerland. Do you think regular sledding is fun? Try tobogganing, which is like regular sledding except you have an eyeful of mountainous scenery to enjoy. The kind of scenery that is almost too picture perfect, like a page out of one of those landscape photography books at Barnes and Noble that everyone loved looking at but never bought. If you’d prefer something a little slower and more romantic, you can enjoy that same snowy view from the back of a horse drawn sleigh.

If your inner wanderlust isn’t tingling with excitement yet, then we have the winter festival for you. This one’s a newer event, and was born in Geilo, Norway in 2006. The Ice Music Festival is entirely unique in that it combines everything iconic about winter with music. But wait, there’s more! Everything, and we mean everything, is made out of ice and snow. From the venue right down to the instruments, it’s all made with what Mother Nature hands us on a snowy, white platter every winter.

We hope the above information helped get you excited about planning a winter vacation! As you’re planning your trip, don’t forget to make sure you have everything you need before heading to the airport. Need a certified copy of your birth certificate before you travel? VitalChek is here to help as a leading source for government certified vital records. Safe and happy travels!

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