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Our Top 5 North America Winter Themed Festivals.

Vladislav Gurfinkel /  Shutterstock
Vladislav Gurfinkel / Shutterstock
Written by Suzy Guese

As the winter season officially kicks off, many of us are bracing for several months of cold, snow, and ice. A whole season of bundling up, shoveling the white stuff, travel delays, and a few slips on slick parking lots is enough to send us all into a deep depression, clutching to the hope that spring is on its way.

However, a number of cities in North America have embraced the cold and snow by hosting fun-filled winter festivals. If you want to stay on the positive side of winter, consider heading to any of our top 5 winter festivals in North America.

1.) Carnaval de Quebec

Zeljka / Shutterstock

Zeljka / Shutterstock

Running from January 29th through February 15th, 2016 Carnaval de Quebec proudly calls itself North America’s biggest snow festival. In fact, the event is the largest winter carnival in the world, featuring international snow sculpture competitions, an ice palace, ice slides and night parades. Carnaval de Quebec stems from a local tradition to get together before Lent to eat, drink and be merry. The first carnival took place in 1894. In addition to winter sports and snow sculptures, the event also features canoe races on the St. Lawrence River.

2.) Saranac Lake Winter Carnival, New York

 Fred Mueller / Shutterstock

Fred Mueller / Shutterstock

Nestled into the Adirondack Mountains of New York, the town of Saranac Lake puts on one fun-filled winter festival. The Saranac Lake Winter Carnival brings concerts, fireworks, parades, and traditional winter sports competitions to this wintry destination. The 10-day festival started in 1897 in order to break up the winter season and promote outdoor sports and games. The Saranac Lake Winter Carnival is perhaps best known for its Ice Palace. As the centerpiece of the event, the palace is constructed by volunteers and set on the shores of Lake Flower’s Pontiac Bay. The 2016 festival will stretch from February 5th through February 14th.

3.) Winterlude, Ottawa, Ontario

Bruce Amos / Shutterstock

Bruce Amos / Shutterstock

Winterlude in Ottawa, Ontario breaks a few records. The winter festival turns Canada’s capital into a winter wonderland. Winterlude celebrates the snow and cold with a wealth of activities. This event is perhaps most famous for hosting the world’s largest natural ice rink. The Rideau Canal Skateway stretches four miles and plays host to a number of the festival’s events. If you are one of the 600,000 people attending Winterlude, you can expect to see ice sculptures, parades, live music and even the world’s biggest snow playground. Celebrated for over three decades, Winterlude also features quirky events like a bed race on ice. The 2016 Winterlude takes place January 29th through February 15th.

4.) Whitefish Winter Carnival

Ronnie Chua / Shutterstock

Ronnie Chua / Shutterstock

In the mountain town of Whitefish, Montana, winter often means celebrating Ullr, the god of snow. In order to properly thank Ullr for the abundance of snow in Whitefish, the town hosts the Whitefish Winter Carnival in his honor. A tradition for more than 50 years, the festival often spans one weekend in February and features ski parades, ski racing, and ice hockey. The Whitefish Winter Carnival also plays into a bit of whimsy by having Yetis try to capture the snow queen with Ullr coming to the rescue. In addition to the main street parade and torch light ski parade, the event also includes the Penguin Plunge, a chilly dip in Whitefish Lake!

5.) St. Paul Winter Carnival, Minnesota

paul geilfuss / Shutterstock

paul geilfuss / Shutterstock

Locals of St. Paul, Minnesota were none too pleased when reporters deemed the area to be inhabitable during the winter months. In retaliation, they created the St. Paul Winter Carnival in 1886, to showcase the beauty of Minnesota winters. Today, the event spans two weeks and features plenty of winter games. Visitors can partake in torch lit parades, half marathons, and see plenty of ice sculptures. Attracting over 250,000 people annually, the event also claims to be the oldest winter festival in the United States. In addition to ice palaces and craft beer events, visitors can also experience the more zany activities like snowplow competitions. The 2016 St. Paul Winter Carnival will be held from January 28th through February 7th.

Let us know your favorite winter carnival in the comments section below.

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About the author

Suzy Guese

Suzy Guese is a travel writer from Denver, Colorado. She caught the travel bug after taking her very first flight at just three months old—she was headed for Disney World—and has been a total travel junkie ever since. From family car trips across North America to stints abroad in Europe, Suzy travels the globe with her redheaded temperament in search of sarcasm, stories, and travel tips to share with anyone willing to listen. She blogs about her travels at http://suzyguese.com.