1. Carnaval De Quebec, Canada, 2. Cologne Winter Carnival, Germany, 3. Sapporo Snow Festival, Japan, 4. Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival, South Korea, 5. Sundance Film Festival, USA, 6. Rio Carnival, Brazil, 7. Amsterdam Light Festival, Netherlands, 8. Harbin Ice & Snow Sculpture Festival, China, 9. Venice Carnival, Italy, 10. Mardi Gras, USA. Winters around the world are unique in their beauty and charm. Some people enjoy the extreme winter snow, while others enjoy the chilly winds and cold. Winter is the season when the entire world prepares for some fantastic holiday vibes and festival celebrations all over the world. With the sun at its lowest point on the horizon and nights reigning supreme, various countries celebrate various festivals to welcome or bid farewell to the winters. There are numerous winter festivals and trust us, you'll be blown away by the charm, beauty, and eccentric vibes that these celebrations hold. Toplist has compiled a list of the most popular winter festivals from around the world that you should attend at least once in your lifetime.
- Carnaval De Quebec, Canada
- Cologne Winter Carnival, Germany
- Sapporo Snow Festival, Japan
- Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival, South Korea
- Sundance Film Festival, USA
- Rio Carnival, Brazil
- Amsterdam Light Festival, Netherlands
- Harbin Ice & Snow Sculpture Festival, China
- Venice Carnival, Italy
- Mardi Gras, USA
Carnaval De Quebec, Canada
This fascinating winter festival in Quebec City has a rich history. The custom was started in 1894 to bring some cheer to the dark Canadian winters. If not for all the completely unique traditions that make the festival distinctly Canadian, the Quebec Winter Carnival, which takes place in Old Quebec, makes you feel as though you’ve stumbled into a European winter wonderland.
Are you capable of tying your arrow sash? It was originally a belt tied in a unique way to keep out the cold, but it has since become a staple of the festival. Don’t forget to grab your trumpet and dress in red! As you might anticipate from the largest winter carnival in the world, the parades are incredible. From avenue des Érables, take the Grande Allée south to see George-V in a spectacular display of music, floats, and color. To fully experience the wintery fun, be sure to attend the races, daily activities, and ice sculpture displays.
Time: February 4 – February 13
Location: Québec City
Destination Québec cité
Cologne Winter Carnival, Germany
Millions of people travel from all over the world to the city to attend Middle Ages-inspired celebrations. One of the warmest and booziest festivals to attend in the winter is this one. This is one of the most intoxicating winter festivals on this list because, being in Germany, the beer and glühwein are excellent and plentiful.
Crazy activities at the Cologne Winter Carnival include “Fat Thursday,” when women cut off men’s ties and give them a kiss, and “Rose Monday,” a day of street parties, marching bands, and outrageous floats to cap off the weekend of drinking and fun. While businesses are still open, you can actually find people dressed up and in the holiday spirit, all week long, even while working, as the celebrations last for about a week.
Date: February 16 – 22
Location: Germany, Cologne
Sapporo Snow Festival, Japan
One of the biggest winter events in Japan is the Sapporo Snow Festival. the annual festival that lasts for seven days in February in Sapporo, Japan. It draws an increasing number of tourists from Japan and other countries. A large number of magnificent snow statues and ice sculptures line Odori Park, the grounds of Community Dome Tsudome, and the main street in Susukino, drawing more than 2 million visitors to Sapporo each year to view them.
The snow sculpting festival in Sapporo, Japan, is among the most impressive ones that take place during the winter. The competition for best snow sculptures is held during the seven-day snow festival. These holiday snow sculptures and works of art will astound you with their level of depth and detail. To celebrate winter, the festival also features incredible food vendors, mazes, and enormous ice slides. Many tourists from around the world settle in Japan after traveling great distances to see this breathtaking beauty.
Years active: 1950–present
Location: Sapporo, Japan
Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival, South Korea
South Korea has festivals that are more than just for fun and entertainment. These festivals are an excellent way to learn about Korean culture. Several festivals are held in various parts of the country throughout the year. The Hwacheoncheon Stream in Hwacheon-gun, Gangwon-do freezes in winter, making it the best place in Korea to enjoy winter! Locals and tourists alike visit the stream to ice fish. They drill a hole in the ice and fish for sancheoneo (Masou salmon), a type of trout found only in high-quality freshwaters. Along with all of this, the Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival offers a variety of fun snow and ice activities, making it the ultimate winter festival destination!
Since its inception in 2003, the Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival has been held each year when the Hwacheoncheon Stream is completely covered in ice.
About 1.5 million people, both locals and tourists attend the three-week-long ice fishing festival each year. Due to its close proximity to Seoul – just 1.5 hours – it is the ideal choice for a day trip in the winter. The best part is that it is a fun event for the whole family.
The Hwacheoncheon Stream in Gangwon-do is well known for its clear water and the native trout, Sancheoneo. And they are unquestionably the festival’s main attraction. Three methods of fishing are popular in Sancheoneo: lure fishing in moving water, bare-handed fishing on the frozen stream, and ice fishing. Ice fishing, the festival’s main attraction, is only feasible when the stream has frozen over to a minimum depth of 2 meters. The water in the stream is so clear that you can still see the bottom of it.
International visitors have access to a special visitor zone that increases their chances of catching fish. You can fish up to three sancheoneo per person in this zone, and the gear is provided after registration. One of the most enjoyable activities available at the festival is barehand fishing. You simply jump into the pool with the fish and must catch the trout with your hands! After registering, you will be given a t-shirt and shorts to change into before diving in!
The Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival includes ice and snow sports just as much as ice fishing. The slopes offer exhilarating sled rides. Bobsleigh, ice soccer, and other sporting events are available for fans to enjoy. Even a biplane is set up if you want to fly over the frozen stream quickly!
The excitement of the Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival can be felt throughout the small town of Hwacheon. The Lantern Street Festival features sancheoneo-shaped lanterns and LED light displays. Large ice sculptures can be found at the Hwacheoneo Cinema, making it the world’s largest indoor ice sculpture plaza. Along with all of this, visitors can participate in traditional Korean folk games and take photos at the photo zone as a souvenir.
After all that fun, you can eat fresh fish dishes at any of the many restaurants located throughout the festival grounds and the city. Raw and fried fish, tteokbokki, fish cakes, and other savory fritters are available.
Time: Jan 14 – Feb 5
Location: Hwacheon-gun, Gangwon-do, South Korea
My Korea Trip
Sundance Film Festival, USA
Sundance Film Festival, held each year in Park City, Utah, is a must-see winter event. The festival was founded to recognize new developments in the film industry that have been influenced by American and international filmmakers. The festival is the largest independent film festival in the United States, attracting millions of visitors, artists, and filmmakers. Sterling Van Wagenen, founded in 1978 by Robert Redford, is now one of Park City’s most popular activities. Competition among filmmakers is part of the celebration, but there are also non-competitive sessions.
For its annual program of drama, documentary, and short films; New Frontier films, performances, exhibitions, and virtual reality experiences; episodic storytelling; lively filmmaker conversations and panel discussions; and dynamic music events, the Sundance Film Festival brings together the most inventive storytellers and the most daring audiences. Since 1985, hundreds of films that were premiered at the Festival have gone on to win awards and find audiences all over the world that are hungry for new ideas and perspectives.
Sundance Institute, a nonprofit, offers and protects the space for independent artists to produce and exhibit new, authentic work. The Robert Redford Institute is a renowned international resource for thousands of artists. It was established in the mountains of Sundance, Utah, in 1981. The Institute works to expand the influence of independent storytelling around the world through its Sundance Film Festival and artistic development programs for film, theater, and new media artists.
Time: January 19 – 29, 2023
Sundance Film Festival 2019 – Entertainment Weekly
Rio Carnival, Brazil
The Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, which is regarded as the biggest festival in the world, takes place every year just before the start of Lent. In the early years of Portuguese colonialism, in 1723, the festival was first celebrated. Extensive feasts were created at that time to honor the Greek wine gods.
With two million people per day dancing, celebrating, and enjoying themselves on the streets, it is regarded as the largest carnival in the entire world. Parades, exquisite costumes, and a fantastic food scene with a variety of drinks are all part of the carnival. Rio Carnival is one of the best things to do in Rio de Janeiro and Brazil, and it has religious significance for the locals.
Date: 17 February – 25 February 2023
Location: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
South America Travel Centre
Amsterdam Light Festival, Netherlands
Amsterdam Light Festival is undoubtedly one of the most exciting events that takes place in Amsterdam during the winter, and it’s also one of the easiest to attend because it lasts for a few months in an effort to chase away the winter doldrums.
The Amsterdam Light Festival, which features hundreds of illuminated works of art, hosts displays on both land and in water. You can even see the water exhibits on the water by taking a canal tour! The water exhibits are drawn out over the picturesque Herengracht canal and make for a beautiful winter stroll with mulled wine. Innovative light installations that respond to touch and sound are featured in the land exhibits. Never has winter been this enjoyable.
Amsterdam doesn’t really celebrate Christmas, but its Light Festival is enormous and includes more than 20 light sculptures created by well-known artists from around the world. Tourists can view the event’s magnificent art installation by taking boat tours, riding bicycles, or just taking a leisurely stroll around. Except for canal cruises, one of the city’s most famous attractions, tourists can actually take advantage of the festival without paying a dime.
Date: December – January
Location: Center of Amsterdam, Netherlands
Winter Festival Amsterdam
Harbin Ice & Snow Sculpture Festival, China
One of the coolest and most amazing winter festivals in China is the Harbin Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival.
The famous festival is held in a 120000 cubic meter ice block where amazing ice sculptures and cravings are created by artists from all over the world. The most intriguing aspect of these sculptures is that they represent the majority of well-known landmarks and structures from around the globe, unlike ordinary sculptures. Visitors can also go sledding, ice skating, and snow sliding in addition to sculpture.
Date: Dec 24 – End of February
Location: Harbin, Heilongjiang, China
Venice Carnival, Italy
One of the most beautiful and spectacular festivals to experience is Carnevale in Venice, Italy. The festival is a sizable celebration of music from all over the universe and private and public masquerade balls. People participate in the festival wearing a variety of exquisite, lovely costumes and original masquerades.
The festival lasts through Fat Tuesday, which is 40 days before Easter. The jury members reveal who had the best costume for the occasion during the final week of the celebration. The festival primarily heralds the end of winter and the start of a brand-new spring season.
Even in the best of times, Venice is unique, but during Carnival Festival, it feels as though you’ve entered a different world of style, color, and enjoyment. The two-week festival marks the arrival of spring. Even though the next two weeks are jam-packed with fun, there are a few events you shouldn’t miss.
Before the party really gets going, there is the Water Parade, in which colorfully decorated boats sail down Rio di Cannaregio in a spectacular display. Next, you should attend the Festa delle Marie, which is held on the second Sunday and features the carnival’s most well-known costumed procession. As they make their way from Garibaldi to the Piazza San Marco, this is where you can see those amazing costumes and masks. Finally, the Flight of the Angel, which also takes place on the second Sunday, sees a rope angel fly up to the doge, capping off the fun with an impressive acrobatic display.
Date: February 12 – March 1
Location: Venice, Italy
Mardi Gras, USA
According to historians, Mardi Gras originated in Rome during raucous pagan festivals honoring spring and fertility thousands of years ago. When Christianity came to Europe during the Middle Ages, religious authorities decided to adopt the widely practiced local customs of these pagan holidays (think parades and lots of eating and drinking) as traditions and make them a prelude to Lent, the 40-day period of sacrifice and fasting between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday. The Tuesday before Ash Wednesday came to be known as “Fat Tuesday” or “Mardi Gras” in French.
Mardi Gras first arrived in North America in 1699, when French-Canadian explorer Pierre Le Moyne, Sieur d’Iberville named his campsite Point du Mardi Gras. He later held a small gala at the campsite, which is about 97 kilometers downstream from New Orleans.
In the newly founded city of Mobile, which served as the capital of French Louisiana territory until the capital was moved to New Orleans, French soldiers and settlers began celebrating Mardi Gras beginning in 1703. The first Mardi Gras street parade in New Orleans was commemorated more than a century later, in 1837. Businessmen from New Orleans established the Mistick Krewe of Comus, a secret society that presented a themed parade with elaborate floats and performers and a lavish post-parade gala in 1857 after violent acts nearly put an end to the festivities.
The evolution of Krewes and parades over the past 150 years into a mix of wild parties and cultural traditions has influenced Mardi Gras celebrations all over the United States.
Time: Day before Ash Wednesday, 47 days before Easter, 2 days after Shrove Sunday
Location: varies from city to city