Tahoe City, California
Tahoe City initiated plans for a winter festival in the early ‘80s to attract skiers who typically visited Tahoe in December and January but missed the late season snowfalls in March. Today, SnowFest is an epic 10-day mountain Mardi Gras celebration that’s been running for over 40 years. Beyond skiing, attendees at SnowFest can enjoy nearly 100 events in the North Tahoe area, including parades, a Mardi Gras party, a luau, ice carving competitions, ski races and more.
Wintersköl, in Aspen, Colorado, is the town’s annual “toast to winter.” Held in January, the festival is a community-wide extravaganza that brings the entire ski town together. What began as for locals to celebrate alpine living is now one of the nation’s most charming winter festivals and is run entirely by residents and local businesses. Over the course of four days, locals and visitors can enjoy après-ski parties, ice sculpture contests, concerts and even a canine fashion show. The festival is also a chance to celebrate deserving community members and local business owners with a "royal court". The first Wintersköl took place in 1951, and the party hasn't stopped since.
CARNAVAL DE QUÉBEC
Québec City, Canada
Carnaval de Québec attracts visitors from all over to partake in this chilly celebration. Although this festival is full of snow sculptures, ice skating, parades and more, the crowd favorite comes in the form of something resembling a snowman. Bonhomme Carnaval, who is seven feet tall and white as snow, has been the life of the party since 1955. As the official festival representative, he receives a new set of Keys to the City to kick off the festivities each year. Not only does he have free reign of the city, but he is also gifted an entire ice palace. Luckily, he’s a generous guy and lets the palace be used for celebrations throughout the festival.
WINTER LIGHTS FESTIVAL
What better way to brighten up the long winter months than with a light festival? Over the course of three days, the dark nights are brightened when museums, concert halls, swimming pools and the much-beloved city center get decked out with incredible installations. Guests look forward to the highly anticipated Museum Night when museums open their doors to offer dance and theater performances, concerts, movies, lectures and readings.
LAKE HARRIET WINTER KITE FESTIVAL
You don't need a warm summer day to fly a kite- just a gust of wind. The Lake Harriet Winter Kite Festival is a fun-filled event that will make you forget about your frozen toes. During the festival, kites of all colors, shapes and sizes fill the sky over Lake Harriet as onlookers mingle below and enjoy the celebration. If your kite happened to fly away the previous year, you'll find the perfect replacement during the festival. Guests can enjoy live music, take ice fishing lessons and participate in a free marshmallow roast.
Known as one of Europe’s jazz capitals, Copenhagen isn’t planning on letting go of the legendary status anytime soon. In case the 1,200 held during the summertime Copenhagen Jazz Festival aren't enough to hold you over for a year, Vinterjazz should do the trick. Held in February, this three-week, nationwide music festival holds over 600 jazz concerts at 150 across the country. Concert halls like DR Koncerthuset in Copenhagen o rKulturværft et in Helsingør host some of the festival's biggest names, while independent organizers showcase local talent reaching all the way to the outskirts of Denmark. Being a part of this national collaboration will instantly warm your soul and your heart.
These festivals bring the spirit of winter alive by celebrating a season that most enjoy from inside. With so many festivals to experience and explore, you’ll never feel the cold of winter in your soul again!