The days may be colder and the nights shorter, but these winter festivals will light up your imagination. A jacket and scarf don’t hurt, either. Read on to discover where to go and how to join in the fun around the world.
Exploring Cologne is fun year-round, but there’s something to be said about visiting during Carnival season.

1. Go crazy at Cologne’s Carnival

Germany is famous for its cozy Christmas markets. But you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more festive event than the carnival in Cologne. This picture-perfect city sits on the banks of the Rhine River. Although the carnival reaches its peak in February, it already opens on November 11 (at 11:11 AM, to be exact).

Expect colorful street performances, parades, singing, dancing, and a general celebratory spirit. Embrace the festive mood with a Christmas tour to learn all about German traditions. The famous Cologne Cathedral with its Gothic architecture is the focal point of the city with its spires rising up to over 500 feet. Cologne’s history dates back over 2,000 years. If you’re after some merriment with your history, a walking tour of the city with a German beer tasting is just the thing.

Discover Amsterdam’s light festival from the end of November to mid-January.

2. Light up in Amsterdam 

The city of Amsterdam is illuminated in creative ways during the annual Amsterdam Light Festival. Running from November 28, 2019, to January 19, 2020, this year’s theme is “Disrupt.” The 25 light artworks will inspire and entertain young and old. A cruise tour is the best way to see the festival from the water. During the day, do as the locals do and get on a bike. This tour will show you the charming Jordaan district. We bet visits to the Vondelpark and Museumplein will have you “going Dutch” in no time. Don’t forget to visit the Van Gogh Museum while you’re here. And, if you’re hungry, Dutch pancakes, waffles, and fries will fill any gap.

Time your trip to Slovenia around the Dragon Carnival parade.

3. Tame the dragon in Slovenia

Traditional folklore and pagan mythology combine in a fascinating, fun festival in Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia. The Dragon Carnival parade takes place on February 23, 2020, and is led by the city’s mascot, a massive green dragon. December sees the magical Ljubljana Festive Fair, a Christmas market on a grand scale. Take a walking tour to discover the city’s various architectural heritage and explore its quaint medieval streets. For a local flavor, taste Slovenian wine in a 300-year-old cellar. If you’d like to get close to nature, a day trip to Lake Bled will inspire you. This glacier lake in the Slovenian Alps is simply picture perfect.

When it comes to intricate Carnival masks, there’s no place like Venice.

4. Venture to Venice

The Carnival in Venice is a true celebration of stunning Italian artistry with a bit of magic thrown in. This floating city is cloaked in mist during winter, and the two weeks of carnival in February sees street performances, masked balls, and concerts taking place around the city. A visit to Venice is all about reveling in its culture. See the Doge’s Palace and tour St. Mark’s Square before hopping on a gondola for a romantic ride around the city’s waterways. For a change of pace, visit the neighboring islands of Murano and Burano, to see the famous glass-blowing and lace-making crafts come to life — and to do some souvenir shopping.

Lovers of the great outdoors will have an amazing time in Whistler.

5. Have a wild time in Whistler

The end of the ski season sees North America’s largest snow, ski, and music festival take place in Whistler. This spring, the World Ski & Snowboard Festival will be held from April 15-19, 2020. What makes this festival unique is that it combines incredible sporting events with arts and music. Watch skiers and snowboarders compete during the day, party to free outdoor music concerts every afternoon, and enjoy film and photography exhibitions in between. For a thrilling rush of adrenaline, take a zipline tour — you’ll ride five ziplines over the treetops, including one that’s a staggering 2,400 feet long! 

Enjoy the outdoors on a trip to see nearby Shannon Falls and ride the Sea to Sky Gondola in Squamish. Whistler is located just 75 miles from Vancouver, one of the most scenic and exciting travel destinations in Canada. Favorite trips in this city include a panoramic seaplane tour, crossing the bay to visit Victoria and Butchart Gardens, and, of course, enjoying the fantastic food of this cosmopolitan city on a walking food tour.