Winter Festivals Worth Wrapping Up For in 2019

    While summer festivals get 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 24th–Feb 3rd 2019

    Worlds best winter festivals

    • Festival Highlight: The programme hasn’t been announced yet, but expect some celeb spotting and plenty of movie premieres for films that won’t be available until much later in the year back home.
    • Alternative Things to Do: Deer Valley Ski Resort is great for seasoned skiers and newbies alike, and you can even do a spot of downhill mountain biking.

    Sundance Film Festival, established by Robert Redford’s Sundance Institute and named after his character from Butch Cassidy and 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 29th 2019

    Worlds best winter festivals

    • Festival Highlight: Watching 1,000 guizers carry torches through the town for the torchlit procession.
    • Alternative Things to Do: Explore the history of the islands at the Shetland Museum.

    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 7th–10th 2019

    • Festival Highlight: Pool Night on the Saturday, where guests sing and dance together while submerged in one of nine swimming pools.
    • Alternative Things to Do: Catch a show at the amazing Harpa Reykjavik Concert Hall.

    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 there are some spectacular light installations compete with the natural illuminations of the Aurora Borealis.

    Sapporo Snow Festival – Feb 4th–11th 2019

    Worlds best winter festivals

    • Festival Highlight: Tsudome, the community dome where you can enjoy snow slides and snowrafting.
    • Alternative Things to Do: Head up Sapporo TV Tower and enjoy the view!

    If you’re in Japan this February, you can’t miss out on the 70th 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 it’s since become an annual winter phenomenon, attracting the world’s most talented ice sculptors and crowds of more than 2 million.

    Rio Carnival – March 2nd–9th 2019

    Worlds best winter festivals

    • Festival Highlight: Scala Rio, the main nightclub in the city that hosts a variety of themed dances where you can wear your most outlandish outfit.
    • Alternative Things to Do: Visit the site of the incredible Christ the Redeemer statue.

    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.

    However, be warned: Rough Guides advises visitors to be on their guard against pickpockets.

    Snowbombing – April 8th–13th 2019

    • Festival Highlight: The Snowlympics, where you and your friends can compete with other Snowbombers to be crowned king of the mountains!
    • Alternative Things to Do: Hit the slopes!

    If you’re heading to Austria this winter, why not head to the ski resort of Mayrhofen for Snowbombing festival?

    The festival has been host to the likes of Liam Gallagher, Skepta and The Prodigy over the last few years, so there’s a real breadth of music that should suit almost anyone.

    Meanwhile, you’re also free to 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!