5 Unique Winter Festivals Around the World

A Christmas tree on top of a van

By: Sally Norton

When December comes, everything becomes outstanding. One of the best possibilities is that you can visit various unique winter festivals around the world. There are really a lot of them, and you can visit a different one every winter. It is the season when everyone starts preparing for some fantastic holiday vibes. Various ice sculptures, an ice rink, and the smell of roasted chestnuts are among the things that add notes to the whole impression. The good thing is that winter festivals usually last for several days, so you can visit more than one during one winter. Holidays in these cold, snowy months are really something special, especially when you have the opportunity to visit diverse festivals with your family.

Quebec Winter Carnival

Certainly, travel is the best way to discover new and exciting events and activities in other countries. And it is definitely beautiful and has more charm in winter. Visitors to Quebec City during the Winter Carnival are numerous! The festival begins at the end of January and lasts for two weeks. Bonhomme Carnaval is the festival's mascot and the main attraction for visitors every winter. In addition, the activities that take place are ice skating, dog sledding, and many others. This event is one of the oldest and biggest winter festivals, so you can't go wrong if you decide to visit it during the winter holidays. There are many more festivals that take place during the winter months, namely:

  • The Whitefish Winter Carnival - Whitefish, Montana
  • Winter Festival of Lights - Niagara Falls, Canada
  • Rise Festival - France

Interesting facts about the festival

This festival has been held intermittently since 1984 and every year since 1955. During the Carnival in 1955, the public was first introduced to the official mascot and ambassador of the celebrations. The one and only celebrity - Bonhomme Carnaval. His wonderful personality symbolizes Quebecers' favorite motto, "the love of life." And he is really the main and the most popular attraction at this festival.

One of the traditional ceremonies of this festival is a visit to the home of the mascot. The ice Palace is also the location of the opening ceremonies. The design of the Bonhomme Carnaval house changes yearly and always contains different rooms in its structure. The parade during this festival is also popular. It lasts for around half an hour and includes a variety of floats with marching bands, musicians, and circus performers. Another traditional event during this festival is the Ice Canoe Race. In addition to the popularity of the festival mascot, this famous Ice Canoe Race is a carnival activity that attracts the most prominent spectators. You can watch this race wherever you want—be it the riverside or even the windows of your apartment, which also have a great view of this event.

Sapporo Snow Festival - Among the unique winter festivals around the world

This festival is held in the city of Sapporo and it is the biggest winter festival in Japan. It starts at the beginning of February and lasts for seven days. If you're thinking about where to travel on your next vacation, consider Japan, especially in winter. A snow sculpting competition is held during the festival and is not to be missed. Snow sculptures will leave you breathless. The event also features incredible food vendors and enormous ice attractions to embrace winter. A stunning world of snow and ice art can be found here. The number of tourists visiting this newsstand is increasing year by year. This is to be expected, considering the extraordinary beauty of this festival.

people at the Sapporo Snow Festival in Japan

People waiting to experience the beauty of the Sapporo Snow Festival, one of the unique winter festivals around the world

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Diwali in India

In Sanskrit, Diwali is translated as a "row of lights." If you visit India during Diwali, you will see some spectacular, vibrant displays. It is held every year between mid-October and mid-November and lasts five days. This festival of lights is India's most remarkable and significant holiday of the year. One of the main components of Diwali's fundamental spiritual importance is the celebration of light triumphing over darkness. It honors the victory of good over evil, light over darkness, and knowledge over ignorance. For Hindus, this national event is just as significant as Christmas is for Christians.

There are also plenty of activities for kids. And for that reason, among other things, Diwali has a respectable place among options for a great family holiday vacation. The wealth of decorations offered by India during this festival is fantastic. Various activities take place during the event, like blowing candles and various workshops where you can be crafty and make your own jewelry. You will also be able to enjoy beautiful, numerous fireworks.

 Beautiful decoration present during Diwali

Lavish decorations during Diwali and lots of burning candles make it stand out

Winter Lights Festival in Reykjavik, Iceland

It is common knowledge that the lights during winter are extraordinary. The feeling you get when you walk through the city center and see that lighting art is astounding. You can get precisely that feeling at the festival of lights that takes place every winter in Reykjavik. This festival offers a range of northern light installations. The primary objective of this three-day festival is to construct breathtaking light displays on specific structures. Furthermore, at numerous public locations, museums, and performance venues. Illuminated swimming pools are also visible. The nights are illuminated with truly magical lights and make the ambiance unreal. It is an amazing occurrence that lights up the Icelandic sky. It may sound impossible, but there is something otherworldly in those lights.

In addition to the winter atmosphere, you can attend, participate and enjoy other aspects of this festival. This festival has both an entertaining and educational character, which many tourists find interesting. The most important day of this festival is the "Night of the Museum." The museums open and entertain tourists with dance and theater performances. And just imagine, this is happening all over the city of Reykjavik! At that time, you can attend various lectures and musical events. There is one piece of information that is important for visitors to this festival, and that is that most of the events at the festival are free! Do not hesitate to visit one of the unique winter festivals around the world as soon as possible.

Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival

It is regarded as the world's largest festival of ice and snow. This festival is held in Harbin, Heilongjiang, China. It hosts a large number of tourists and visitors from around the world. At this festival, you will have the opportunity to see the largest ice sculptures in the world. These sculptures represent most of the major sites and buildings in the world, making them remarkable.

Huge ice sculptures at one of the unique winter festivals around the world

Amazing ice sculptures are the main feature of the festival in Harbin

Yabuli alpine skiing and winter swimming in the Songhua River are two winter sports that take place during the festival. In Zhaolin Garden, you can also view an ice-lantern exhibition. Visitors can sled and slide down the snowy slopes. Skating is a popular sport in Harbin; thus, it is offered to festival visitors. Other activities at this festival that shouldn't be missed include an ice snow poem recitation party, an ice photography exhibit, an ice movie festival, and many more. The wonderful experience you will gain after visiting this festival is memorable. Therefore, you shouldn't leave it out of your winter adventure of visiting winter festivals.

In conclusion

Few people can resist the winding streets lined with sparkling ornaments, welcoming locals, festive food, and gifts galore. Fantastic ice sculptures and unmissable winter activities are extraordinary experiences. The magical lights that illuminate winter nights in different countries and cities are something you must see at least once in your life. By visiting unique winter festivals around the world, you will be able to see and experience all of this. You will get to know new cultures, acquire new skills and enrich yourself in experience. That's why you know what to do when the cold winter days come, and you feel that festive euphoria. Visits to winter festivals will ensure that despite the coldest season - you will never be cold.