Discover four unique winter festivals to visit, including one right here in Canada.
A wintertime tradition dating back to the Middle Ages, Germany’s Cologne Carnival is a fun-filled spectacle that includes six days of festivities. Colourful parade floats and marching bands take over the city streets as bars, restaurants and public squares play host to millions of merrymakers.
Traditional carnival songs, elaborate costumes and celebrating into the wee hours are all part of the fun.
Sapporo Snow Festival
For seven days in February, the snowy city of Sapporo in Japan transforms into an open-air gallery during this much-anticipated annual event.
Artists from around the world travel to the mountainous island of Hokkaido to create beautiful outdoor sculptures out of snow and ice. Visitors will also find frosty installations at three sites across the city: Odori Park, Susukino and Tsudome.
Enjoy such family-friendly activities as sledding, ice skating and snow golf, or head to outdoor food stalls to sample traditional Hokkaido cuisine, such as Genghis Khan—lamb and vegetables, like kabocha pumpkin and cabbage, cooked on a helmet-shaped grill.
Carnaval de Quebec
Thousands of visitors descend on Quebec City each year for North America’s largest winter festival. The multi-day event includes a variety of outdoor activities and attractions, including ice canoe races on the St. Lawrence River, outdoor concerts, fairground rides and pop-up ice bars.
There’s also a dazzling nighttime parade headlined by Bonhomme, Carnaval’s iconic snowman mascot. Revellers embody joie de vivre during the festival by wearing traditional Québécois arrow sashes and sipping shots of sweet Caribou liquor.
Reykjavik Winter Lights Festival
Each year, glittering light displays illuminate the darkest winter nights in Iceland’s capital. Come February, visitors and locals take to the streets to view colourful multimedia installations projected on buildings and public spaces throughout the city.
Reykjavik’s museums are open to the public free of charge for special exhibitions and late-night tours as part of its popular Museum Night.