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Here Are Some of the Coolest Winter Carnivals Around the World!

Woman Touring Winter Carnivals Around the World
Written by Going Places

Brrrr, it’s freezing! Time to party? Absolutely. Winter means big fun for many. And, nothing says winter like a cozy stroll around Winter Wonderland – aka, a winter carnival! So if it’s ice palaces, snowy sculptures, ice fishing contests, and amazing photo opportunities you seek, take a look at some of the coolest winter carnivals around the world!

The Quebec Winter Carnival (Canada)

Winter Carnivals Around the World

Probably the best known of these chilled-out celebrations is the Quebec Winter Carnival, which has been delighting folks for 60 years with a mix of cold weather wonders blended with traditions dating back to the days when the area was still a French colony. But, you’ll definitely want to find cheap international flights well before winter comes so you don’t miss it! Like other famous Carnival festivities such as in Venice or Rio de Janeiro, the Quebecois shindig has its roots in locals getting together for a bit of sometimes raucous frivolity before the self-disciplines of Lent began. Quebec’s Winter Carnival is also a way of making the merry most of an icy situation with giant ice sculptures, a grand ice palace, and loads of outdoor activities to enjoy.

Winterlude in Ottawa (Canada)

Winter Carnivals Around the World Ottawa

[Image above “Winterlude/Bal de neige” by Andrew Plumb on Flickr – licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0]

This free event happens over the first three weekends in February every year in Ottawa. Visitors will marvel at the stunning ice sculptures that dot the landscape of the festival grounds. Kids will delight in playing in the massive Snowflake Kingdom playground. Be sure to leave time to lace up your ice skates and take a spin on the UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Rideau Canal Skateway. This annual winter celebration pays tribute to the beauty of Canada during this magical season. It’s easy to immerse yourself in this winter fantasyland when you’re visiting Ottawa.

St. Paul Winter Carnival (Minnesota)

There’s no better place to celebrate the arrival of winter in the Twin Cities than at the St. Paul Winter Carnival. One of the best winter carnivals around the world takes place right in the heart of Downtown St. Paul, near Rice Park and Landmark Center. Some events will also happen at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds during the last weekend of January and the first weekend of February. Past events include an ice fishing tournament, a scavenger hunt, a parade, bingo night, and golfing on ice. This uniquely Minnesota event is a great way to dive into all of the fun of the winter season.

You may also enjoy: Our Top 5 North American Winter-Themed Festivals

Holmenkollen Ski Festival (Norway)

As one of the most popular sporting arenas on the planet, it’s no surprise that Norway uses Holmenkollen as the site of its annual ski festival. Generally held at the beginning of March, this festival features a host of ski-jumping competitions. While at the festival, be sure to stop by the world-class Ski Museum to learn more about the sport and how it’s shaped this corner of Europe. Plus, there are lots of winter-themed activities to do in Oslo, the epicenter of the best that Norway has to offer.

Sapporo Snow Festival (Japan)

Winter Carnivals Around the World - Sapporo Snow Festival

[Image above “おひな様” by iyoupapa on Flickr – licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0]

You’ll be amazed by the intricate snow sculptures on display at the Snow Festival in Hokkaido’s capital city of Sapporo in Japan. The event typically takes place in early February at Odori Park. The festival is one of the most popular events of the season in Japan. The sculptures rise up to 15 meters into the sky. You’ll also see concerts and other events with the snow sculptures as the centerpiece. You can meander the grounds of the park or purchase a ticket to view the marvels from the Sapporo TV Tower, located at the eastern end of the park.

Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival (China)

You also don’t want to miss the Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival, China’s annual celebration of the beauty of the season. Here you’ll find elaborate ice castles that stretch as far as the eyes can see. The festival kicks off at the end of December and runs through the end of February, giving you plenty of time to check out these masterpieces. Keep in mind that the ice may begin to melt toward the end of the festival, making it important that you don’t wait until the last minute to visit. In addition to the sculptures, the festival also offers recreational activities such as ice biking and skating, entertaining performances, and lots of food and drink options.

Did we leave out any of your favorite winter carnivals around the world? Tell us about yours in the comments!

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