Don’t let cabin fever get the best of you. A winter carnival is the perfect excuse to get outdoors and into the swing of the season. Don your best and brightest winter gear and head outdoors to celebrate the chill with these six spectacular winter festivals:
St. Paul’s Winter Carnival invites visitors to make the most of the cold and snow: dogsled races, snow sculpting, ice sculpture carving, and a magical parade by torchlight. Saint Paul’s beautiful and historic Rice Park sets the stage for grand frozen displays. The ever-sparkly ice displays, beautiful masterpieces created by area artists using an array of tools including knives, chainsaws, are available for viewing. You can even see the artists at work (and competing for prizes and bragging rights) the first Thursday through Sunday of carnival. All three of the fantastic Winter Carnival parades — the Moon Glow Pedestrian, Grande Day and Torchlight —end in Rice Park, too. Before you go, learn more about the legend that inspired the carnival.
Celebrate the Bicentennial of the Battle of New Orleans, the final, major battle of the War of 1812, which took place in New Orleans and its environs. More than 1,500 re-enactors will stage the pivotal military engagements of the famous battle at Jean Lafitte National Park (located about an hour and a half outside New Orleans). Hands-on activities, period music and dance, and demonstrations of 1815-era crafts will round out the many opportunities for educational family fun.
More than 600 athletes from 70 nations will descend upon the Vail Valley on for the On February 2 – 15 for the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships. This is one of the best times of the year to visit Vail and Beaver Creek. The Championship’s races are free and open to the public (no tickets required) and 98% of Vail & Beaver Creek Mountains will be open for public skiing and riding during the Championships. Don’t miss the over-the-top Opening Ceremonies, free nightly concerts and a variety of family focused festival activities.
At the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival, the focus is on outdoor winter sports – both conventional and non-conventional: attendees compete in lumber and snowshoe races, Nordic skiing events, and even volleyball played in knee-deep snow and softball played on snowshoes. The gem of this festival is the “Ice Palace”, built annually to mark the village’s ice industry, which, in the days before electric refrigerators, harvested ice from local lakes for use in ice boxes across the country. The theme for 2015 is the “Groovy ‘60’s”, so expect plenty of groovin’ ice sculptures, music and more.
Started as a way to combat cabin fever at the height of the Colorado winter, the Steamboat Springs Winter Carnival and Night Show Extravaganza. Kids will love being pulled on skis behind horses, right down Main Street and over the “Donkey Jump.” The Saturday Night Extravaganza on Howelsen Hill is especially lovely as skiers loop down the mountain with lanterns, lighting up the dark winter sky.
Say sayonara to winter at the most colorful of springtime celebrations: Washington D.C.’s National Cherry Blossom Festival. The beautiful, blooming cherry blossom trees mark the enduring friendship between the people of the United States and Japan, while a wide array of diverse and creative programming celebrates traditional and contemporary arts and culture, natural beauty, and community spirit. The 2015 National Cherry Blossom Festival will begin the first day of spring, Friday, March 20, and continue through Sunday, April 12.
Photo Credit: Alana Griffith