Home > Living > The “Coolest” Winter Festivals in the World

The “Coolest” Winter Festivals in the World

Chill out at these quirky happenings around the world.

Montreal’s Igloofest features good vibes and freezing temps.PHOTO: PETER RYAUX-LARSEN

Don’t let the snow slow you down. Winter is one of the best seasons to explore your passions, whether that’s food, film, or something else entirely. From festivals that embrace the cold with adorable huskies to melt-in-your-mouth chocolate tastings, these winter festivities will have you winning at life.

Fur Rendezvous

Where: Anchorage, Alaska
When: February 22 to March 3, 2019

An Alaskan winter is not for the faint of heart, but chances are you’ll be glad you make the trek. The annual ten-day Fur Rendezvous is the largest winter festival in North America—not to mention the coldest! Many events, such as the World Championship Sled Dog Race and Blanket Toss, are time-honored native Alaskan traditions, while humans and reindeer square off in the Running of the Reindeer race.

Photo: Erik Judson

Chinese New Year Parade & Festival

Where: San Francisco, California
When: February 23, 2019

There’s a reason so many East Coasters flock to the “best coast” when temperatures drop. San Francisco winters are mild, and you’ll have no trouble spending most of your day outdoors at the Chinese New Year Parade and Festival. Held in one of the oldest and most established Chinatowns in the country, the festival is a must-see, with floats, lion dancers, stilt walkers, acrobats, and more.

Photo: Knight Lights Photography

Annual Wine & Chocolate Festival

Where: Clermont, Florida
When: December 7 to 9, 2018

Satisfy your sweet tooth with Lakeridge Winery’s annual Wine and Chocolate Festival. Tickets include a complimentary wine tasting where every glass is paired with a chocolate. When you’re all sugared out, listen to live music at the outdoor stage or peruse local arts and crafts. This year boasts a “chocolate wonderland” outdoor tent serving up delicious treats and wines.

Glittering Lights Festival

Where: Las Vegas, Nevada
When: November 9 to January 6, 2019

Wasting no time, the Glittering Lights festival has already kicked off at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Every year, the speedway is decorated with more than three million festive lights. You can drive through the two-mile course, making pit stops along the way to listen to live music and entertainment from the comfort of your car.

Photo: Glittering Lights

King Cake Festival

Where: New Orleans, Louisiana
When: January 27, 2019

We’ve all heard of New Orleans’ beignets, but what about king cake? This seasonal treat is traditionally made from a French bread-type dough and tons of sugar and, more importantly, has a good-luck bean or tiny plastic baby baked inside. The King Cake Festival‘s main draw is its blind taste-test competition to award the best cake of the year (as well as other accolades, like “Most Likely to Replace a Meal”).

Photo: King Cake Festival

Holiday Ale Festival

Where: Portland, Oregon
When: November 28 to December 2, 2018

Didn’t make it to Oktoberfest? The next best thing is Portland’s Holiday Ale Festival. This year marks the 23rd annual, featuring 50-plus bold craft beers, ciders, and meads, with participating breweries serving products made specifically for the event. Around 14,000 beer lovers turn out each year for this massively popular fest.

Photo: Timothy Horn

Other Worlds Austin

Where: Austin, Texas
When: December 6 to 9, 2018

Austin isn’t known as the Geek Capital of the World solely for its booming tech scene—there’s also a solid science-fiction scene. While still in its infancy, Other Worlds Austin has run sold-out screenings for the past four years, attracting filmmakers from all over the world. Previous screenings took place at Flix Brewhouse, which doubles as a cinema and microbrewery.

Charleston Wine + Food Festival

Where: Charleston, South Carolina
When: March 6 to 10, 2019

Craving Southern comfort food? We’ve got just the fix right before winter officially comes to a close. The annual Charleston Wine + Food Festival hosts more than 100 events—including lunches, dinners, cooking classes, and excursions—to feed your belly and your soul! As with years past, 2019 will bring celebrity chefs, award-winning authors, and culinary experts to the table.  


Where: Montreal, Canada
When: January 17 to February 2, 2019   

Jazz lovers flock to Montreal every July for the world’s largest jazz festival, but in January, electronic music takes center stage. The rowdy Igloofest is held over four winter weekends, for a total of 12 nights. Fight the freeze by sipping warm beverages and dancing along to sets from top-notch DJs and electronic acts.

Photo: Peter Ryaux-Larsen

Carnaval de Nice

Where: Nice, France
When: February 16 to 28, 2019

If you’re looking for an alternative to Carnevale di Venezia and Carnaval do Brasil, Nice Carnival is it! The glamorous French city comes alive with live theater performances, fireworks displays, and parades of grand proportions—think decorative floats and huge paper mâché figurines. This year, expect a cinema theme, as 2019 marks the 100th anniversary of the iconic Victorine Studios.

Photo: Carnaval de Nice

Love This Item?