While summer festivals may take all the glory, those of us who prefer snow over sunburn can rest easy knowing that we don’t have to miss out on all the fun. We’ve scoured the frostiest festivals around the globe to find out which ones are going to make your winter one to remember.
Sundance Film Festival – Jan 18th–28th
Sundance Film Festival, established by Robert Redford’s Sundance Institute and named after his character the Sundance Kid, is dedicated to promoting new, independent film-making talent from around the world. Park City in Utah is a charming town with excellent restaurants and is also home to some of the best ski runs in the US. Insider tip: book movie tickets in advance online to avoid the long queues.
Up Helly Aa – Jan 30th
This midwinter fire festival is celebrated in the Shetland Islands on the last Tuesday of January each year. Up Helly Aa is the revival of traditional ceremonies to mark the end of the Christmas season. Guizers in Viking costume march through the town during the day and in the evening there is a spectacular torchlight parade. The festival officially ends when a galley, a replica of a Viking longboat, is ceremonially burnt, but the many post-Up Helly Aa parties are legendary!
Reykjavik Winter Lights – Feb 1st–4th
One of the best winter festivals in Iceland, Winter Lights celebrates the dark season in February, just as the hours of daylight begin to lengthen. With a mix of art, history, music, sport and culture, all events are free and some spectacular light installations compete with the natural illuminations of the Aurora Borealis.
Sapporo Snow Festival – Feb 5th–12th 2018
If you’re in Japan this February, you can’t miss out on the Sapporo Snow Festival. Every winter, the streets and parks of the city are lined with snow and ice sculptures, transforming the urban scene into a sparkling winter wonderland. The festival began in 1950, when some students created a few ice sculptures, but has since become an annual winter phenomenon, attracting the world’s most talented ice sculptors and crowds of more than 2 million.
Rio Carnival – Feb 24th–28th 2018
Carnivals are held all over Brazil to mark the beginning of Lent, but the Rio Carnaval is the most glamorous, loudest and most exciting street party in the world. The celebrations centre on the street processions; as the “schools” dance their way along Avenida Rio Branco to the pervasive beat of samba, the atmosphere is generally high-spirited and good-natured, although Rough Guides warns visitors to be on their guard against pickpockets.
Snowbombing – April 9th–14th
If you’re heading to Austria this winter, why not head to the ski resort of Mayrhofen for Snowbombing festival? Here you can see the likes of Liam Gallagher, Pendulum and Dizzee Rascal perform, or relax and unwind in some of the most luxurious spas in the Austrian mountains. Plus, with the chance to go paragliding or experience a snow limo (“Top Gear meets Cool Runnings”), it really is a festival that has everything!