7 Great Winter Carnivals

For cen­turies peo­ple have been brav­ing the snow and ice to cel­e­brate win­ter with their fam­i­lies, friends, and com­mu­ni­ties. Nowa­days, the tra­di­tion of win­ter car­ni­vals con­tin­ue with more flare and excite­ment then ever. Whether your inter­ests are in win­ter snow sports or admir­ing ice sculp­tures, win­ter car­ni­vals will have some­thing for you to enjoy.

This young fes­ti­val is only in it’s sec­ond year, but it’s already gain­ing steam. Fes­tevol com­bines the sim­ple joys of moun­tain shred­ding (ski­ing or snow­board­ing) and live music to make a great time for atten­dees. Guster and the Bare­naked Ladies have been booked for all three Fes­tevol loca­tions: Crest­ed Butte, CO March 17–18; Oke­mo, VT March 24–25;  and Mt. Sunapee NH March 31-April 1.

Steam­boat Springs Win­ter Carnival
This car­ni­val, which is held in Steam­boat Springs, Col­orado, is packed with win­ter sport­ing events for both kids and adults. West­ern ties run deep in Steam­boat Springs and there are plen­ty of ski­jor­ing, the act of being pulled by a horse while ski­ing, events tak­ing place inside of town (most of the ski­jor­ing events are for kids, but the ski­jor­ing shov­el race is for adults only). There are also plen­ty of races on the slopes sans horse includ­ing the muz­zle­load­ing biathlon, and the XC-ski­ing obsta­cle course for adults. Night­time events include The Light­ed Man, a pyrotech­nic ski show, and a torch­lit parade. Feb. 6–10

Fur Ren­dezvous Festival
There may not be a bet­ter place to cel­e­brate win­ter than Anchor­age, Alas­ka. Nick­named “Rondy”, this fes­ti­val began in the 1930’s as a 3‑day win­ter sports tour­na­ment. Since then it has added many unique tra­di­tions like Mr. Fur Face (a beard com­pe­ti­tion), out­house races, and the Run­ning of the Rein­deer (think Run­ning of the Bulls with domes­ti­cat­ed cari­bou). But Rondy has stayed true to it’s sport­ing roots; hock­ey tour­na­ments, dogsled races, and the Frost­bit­ten Footrace 5K have remained sta­ples of Rondy. Feb. 22-March 3

Que­bec Win­ter Carnival
This 13-day Cana­di­an car­ni­val held in Mon­tre­al may be the most com­pre­hen­sive of the win­ter fes­ti­vals. For the adven­tur­ous ones there are plen­ty of snow sports like charg­ing down a ski hill in a white­wa­ter raft, snow bathing , cruis­ing the 400-ft long Uniprix Ice Slide, or rac­ing a canoe through frozen waters and float­ing ice. At the end of each day you can enjoy Mon­tre­als restau­rants and bars or head over to the Spa Vil­lage for a soak in a hot tub or sauna. Feb. 1–17

Saranac Lake Win­ter Carnival
Saranac Lake Win­ter Car­ni­val is held deep in the Adiron­dack Moun­tains of New York and it very well may be the finest on the east coast. Major events include snow­shoe and ice skat­ing races, curl­ing, and broom­ball. This fes­ti­val is also famous for its cas­tle-like ice palaces. Feb. 1–10

Harbin Ice and Snow Festival
Locat­ed in the far north­east of Chi­na, Harbin’s month long fes­ti­val boasts the most elab­o­rate and beau­ti­ful ice lanterns (col­ored ice sculp­tures) in the world. Some of the ice lanterns are large-col­or­ful build­ings, while oth­ers may be ani­mals. There are also plen­ty of sport­ing events pit­ting the Chi­nese ver­sus The Rus­sians and oth­er coun­tries. Sun Island Park has the largest indoor ice and snow arts exhib­it in the world. Jan. 5‑Feb. 5

ESPN Win­ter X Games
Aspen Col­orado will be host­ing The X Games at But­ter­milk Moun­tain for its 12th con­sec­u­tive year in 2013. The world’s top skiers, snow­board­ers, and snow­mo­bil­ers will be com­pet­ing for cash and medals. Atten­dance at The X Games is free! So this may be your best chance to see the best of the best in win­ter sports.  Jan. 24–27