17 Popular Winter Festivals Around the World


Winters around the world have different charm and beauty. Some enjoy the extreme winter snow whereas some are blessed with chilly winds and cold. Winter is that time of the year when the whole world gets prepared for some amazing holiday vibes and festival celebrations across the globe.

With the sun being at the lowest of its horizon and nights being the king of the sky, different countries celebrate different festivals to welcome or bid farewell to the winters. There’s a large number of festivals that take place in winters and trust us, you’ll be blown up with their charm, beauty, and the eccentric vibes that these celebrations hold in them. 

We curated the list of top winter festivals around the world which are amazing and fun to experience at least once in life.

Winter Festivals Around the World

Check this list of winter carnivals and festivals that are world-famous. If you are planning a trip to visit a winter festival, do check this list.


1. Shetland Viking Festival – Lerwick, Scotland

Shetland Viking Festival – Lerwick, Scotland

The Shetland Viking festival is a festival that features the Scandinavian old Yule tradition which is still celebrated and practiced in Scotland. This festival is popularly known as Up Helly Aa. It is celebrated on the last Tuesday in January every year.

The festival consists of a parade where the locals lead a fiery procession in the town to celebrate their longship of all these years. The procession is followed by with party, drinks and lots of musical celebrations in the town. Depicting their historic pride, the festival is extremely joyful to celebrate and witness.

2. Venice’s Carnevale-  Venice, Italy

Venice's Carnevale-  Venice, Italy
flickr Michele Marchetti

Carnevale in Venice, Italy one of the most beautiful and spectacular festivals to witness around. The festival is a huge celebration of private and public masquerade balls and music across space. People take part in the festival with different exquisite, beautiful costumes and unique masquerades. 

The festival takes place 40 days before the easter and ends on fat Tuesday. In the last week of celebration, the jury members announce the best costume for the event. The festival mainly marks the end of winter and new beginnings of the fresh spring season.


3. Las Fallas-Valencia, Spain

Las Fallas-Valencia, Spain

Las Fallas is a five days carnival in Spain which is celebrated with lots of energy in winter. The festivals include some fun shows and poke on the creation of ninots which resemble much like politicians, celebrities or famous figures. The parade walks across the city celebrating the fun and also showcasing different Spanish costumes. The end of the festival is marked by a huge bonfire on a day called LaCrema. The festival nearly ends on March 18. It’s a good way to bring all together with the culture of Spain on one platform.

4. Sapporo Snow Festival – Sapporo, Japan

Sapporo Snow Festival – Sapporo, Japan

Sapporo in Japan is one of the most spectacular snow sculpting festivals that takes place in winter. The festival is a seven-day long snow festival where the snow sculpting competition takes place. These festive snow carvings and artwork will blow your mind with every little detail and depth it has. The festival also has some amazing food stalls, mazes, and giant ice slides to celebrate winter. Japan becomes a home to many tourists from the world who travel all along just to witness this spectacular beauty.

5. Winter Festival of Lights -Niagra Falls, Ontario

Winter Festival of Lights -Niagra Falls, Ontario

Winters in Ontario are an absolute treat for over 2 million people. The festival exhibits marvelous firework shows and light art that is mesmerizing and amazing to watch. Apart from the winter light show, there are various other events like the Deck the Falls walking tour, weekly fireworks, laser light shows, a New Year’s Eve concert, and Ice Wine Festival.

6. Reykjavik Winter Lights Festival – Reykjavik, Iceland

Reykjavik Winter Lights Festival – Reykjavik, Iceland

If you ever felt like admiring the beauty of northern lights, but haven’t experienced it yet, then you need to visit this festival at least once. Iceland has built up a whole festival with these beautiful northern light shows, which are particularly famous in the fierce winter season. The nights here are lit up with a unique majestic ambiance with perfect lights and sparks across space. Along with the night glow of these northern lights, you can also enjoy art, music, sports, and culture along with some museum tours, concerts and beautiful thermal pools with the glowing lights on every corner. It is one of the best festivals to enjoy some warm ambiance in chilly winters.

7. Frozen Dead Guys Day – Nederland, Colorado

Well, this festival is a really weird one with its history and backdrop but yet ranks the list because of its popularity. It is believed that a Norwegian citizen Trygve Bauge brought her deceased grandfather, Bredo Morstol, to the US and preserved his body on dry ice and stored in liquid nitrogen. In remembrance of that story, the town celebrates frozen dead guys day where the town keeps the entire crowd of locals and tourists entertained with van smashes, snowshoe racing, polar plunges, and coffin races. It does sound weird, but this has one of the oldest historic festivals in Nederland.

8. Hwacheaon Sancheoneo Ice Festival-  Hwacheon, South Korea

Hwacheon is one of the untouched regions of South Korea that freezes in winter and the rivers here are covered in a thick layer of ice. Visitors and tourists visit this place to enjoy some fishing and view the spectacular ice sculpting views which take over 20 years weeks of preparation. The festival stays along for the entire month of January and sees a lot of visitors visiting here.

9. Harbin Ice & Snow Sculpture Festival-  Dongbei, China

The Harbin Ice and Snow Sculpture festivals are one of the coolest and amazing winter festivals in China. The famous festival takes place in the 120000 cubic meters of ice where a beautiful wonderland is created with mind-blowing ice sculptures and cravings by artists around the world. The most interesting fact is that these sculptures are not just ordinary ones but, they depict most of the famous sites and buildings of the world. Apart from sculpting, visitors can snow slides, sledding, and skating. The night is lit with beautiful lights and decorations around.

10. Dragon Carnival- Ljubljana, Slovenia

Slovenia loves colors and their love for colors reflects in their festivals. The country celebrates winter carnival with a mix of pagan and Christian traditions at the central square with a mix of colors and different fun switching activities. People dress up as bears, dragons, witches, and devils to scare of the winters and welcome the fresh spring. The parade has some amazing big dragon shows and art presentations.  Slovenia also celebrates similar masked festivals in different cities. Make sure you at least check out one of them.

11. Winter Jazz Festival (Vinterjazz), Denmark

Winter Jazz Festival (Vinterjazz), Denmark

If you are looking for a pure soul winter music festival, Denmark is the place to be. The celebration takes across different venues in Denmark where more than 600 jazz concerts take place. You can catch up with both, national and international music artists to discover to enjoy the true essence of music and some cozy huge atmosphere around.

12. Cologne Winter Carnival- Cologne, Germany

Cologne Winter Carnival- Cologne,Germany
flickr – Martin

The cologne winter festival has been an old age festival in Germany. It is one of the booziest and warmest festivals to enjoy in winters. The festival continues for a week with other sub celebrations such as Fat Thursday, Rose Monday and other street celebrations and parties across space. There’s a lot of beer and glühwein to keep the visitors warm and get going on the carnival. It’s said that people here stay dressed up in the holiday spirit all week long while working as well.

13. Carnival in Rio de Janeiro

Carnival of Rio de Janeiro

The Carnival in Rio de Janeiro is a festival celebrated every year before Lent. It is considered the biggest carnival in the world with two million people per day on the streets dancing, celebrating and enjoying.

The first Rio de Janeiro Carnival festival celebrated in 1723. During that time, elaborate feasts were created to give honor to the Greek wine gods. 

14. Sundance Film Festival

Sundance Film Festival is an annual film festival organized by the Sundance Institute. It is held every year in January in Park City, Utah, Salt Lake City, and at the Sundance Resort,.

The Sundance Film Festival is the largest independent film festival in the United States.

15. New Orleans’ Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday is an event of the Carnival celebration that begins on or after the Christian feasts of the Epiphany (Three Kings Day) and ends on the day before Ash Wednesday. This festival is the tradition of the last night of eating rich, fatty foods before the ritual Lenten sacrifices and fasting of the Lenten season.

Mardi Gras is also celebrated in New Orleans and this is one of the biggest festival celebrated there.

Read more, Best places to visit in December in India

16. Winter Party Festival in Miami Beach

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Winter Party Festival celebrated every year in Miami Beach to help raise money for the LGBTQ community. This festival has grown into one of the hottest LGBTQ themed parties on Earth.

17. Diwali in India

Diwali is the festival of lights which is celebrated every year in India. It is a religious festival celebrated by Hindus, Jains and Sikhs during the Hindu lunisolar month Kartika. It symbolizes the spiritual “victory of light over darkness, good over evil, and knowledge over ignorance”.

There are few other festivals that world celebrate during winters that is:

  • Yukon Quest
  • Ottawa’s Winterlude
  • Quebec City’s Winter CarnivalYukon Quest

Read More, List of best countries to visit in winter

These are the best winter festivals and carnivals around the world. If you love this festive season, do try to go to these winter festivals and enjoy them. You can also plan a Christmas trip to the places in Europe during the winter. There are few places in Europe where you can find the best Christmas Markets. So, do plan a trip in winter and enjoy these beautiful festivals in winter.