Put on your warm winter woollies and discover a playground of attractions and activities for some serious winter fun. From visiting ice hotels and Christmas markets, to bobsledding and husky trekking, here is a look through the lens at 20 amazing winter attractions and activities to add to your bucket list.
1. Sweden’s famous Icehotel
Sweden’s famous Icehotel is located in the small village of Jukkasjärvi, Sweden, 125 miles north of the Arctic Circle. First built in 1990, the hotel is reconstructed each year. The winter season runs from December to April, and if you don’t fancy spending the night surrounded by ice, you can visit for the day and take a guided tour before enjoying lunch at the Icehotel restaurant.
2. Ice sailing in Michigan
If you want to try a winter activity out of the ordinary, why not try your hand at ice sailing, also known as ice boating. Ice sailing destinations don’t get better than Michigan, which is a world-class ice sailing destination thanks to the immense frozen lakes and strong winter winds.
3. Bobsledding at Lake Placid Olympic Park
Adventurers looking for winter thrills should add bobsledding to their bucket list. The Lake Placid Olympic Park in the northern region of the Adirondacks has twice hosted the Winter Olympics and offers adrenaline pumping bobsled rides for the brave. Rumble down the track at breakneck speeds with a professional driver and brakeman for the ultimate winter experience.
4. Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival
For one month every winter the Chinese city of Harbin hosts the world’s largest ice and snow sculpture festival. Visitors to Harbin will find ice sculptures all over the city, but the main exhibition areas are at Sun Island and “Snow and Ice World”. You’ll get to see dozens of towering illuminated ice sculptures in this phenomenal winter wonderland.
5. Visiting Santa in Lapland
You’ll be hard-pressed to find a more exciting family winter attraction that taking the kids to see Santa in Lapland. There are several travel companies in the UK that offer tours to the Santa Claus village in Finnish Lapland where the kids can meet the jolly old man and his elves.
6. Turkey Curling at Denare Beach Winter Festival
If you enjoy watching the Winter Olympic sport of curling, you should add turkey curling at Denare Beach Winter Festival to your bucket list. The Saskatchewan festival takes curling to a new level by replacing polished granite stones with frozen turkeys. It’s a fun day out for the whole family.
7. Mushing in Alaska
Mushing is an important part of Alaskan culture. If you want a taste of the life of a musher, you can take a ride with dog sled team across a snow covered meadow. There are several kennel owners just outside Anchorage that offer mushing tours in conjunction with travel companies.
8. Rhode Island’s Polar Bear plunge
If you’re in beautiful Rhode Island during winter, and are slightly crazy, here is one for your bucket list. Every year on New Year’s Day the Newport Polar Bears invite those brave enough to take a plunge with them in the freezing North Atlantic Ocean, for charity of course. There are other Polar Bear plunges across the USA, including in Chicago, New York, Maryland and New Jersey.
9. Japan’s Ice Village
If an ice hotel is not enough you can visit Japan’s ice village, which is built on frozen Lake Shikaribetsu in northern Japan. The ice village includes an ice lodge, igloo houses, an ice theatre, an ice bar and even an ice chapel. It’s open from late December until March, and forms part of the Alpha Resort in Tomamu.
10. Painting snow and building snowmen in Moscow
Moscow holds an annual snow painting competition in Sokolniki Park, called “Art on Snow”. If you don’t want to try creating a painted masterpiece you can always take part in the snowman building contest, or add a snowman to the snowman parade on Arbat Street.
11. Nuremberg Christmas Market
One of the best ways to experience the magical atmosphere of Christmas is at a Christmas Market. At the famous Nuremberg Christmas market you can sample Christmas specialities like Gluhwein (mulled wine), baked apples, lebkuchen (spiced gingerbread) at more than 180 wooden stalls.
12. Sapparo Snow Festival
The Sapporo Snow Festival in Hokkaido is one of the most famous winter festivals in the world, with over 2 million visitors from across the globe visiting each year. Although the giant ice sculptures are the main attraction, there are also a wide variety of winter sports and activities to keep you busy including an ice slide.
13. Winter in Central Park
There is something magical about strolling through Central Park in winter. A blanket of white covers the ground and bare branches glisten with ice. When you’re not strolling through New York’s winter wonderland you can take a romantic carriage ride, or go ice skating.
14 Tampere ice fishing
The Tampere region is one of Finland’s best ice fishing spots with plenty of perch, zander, pike and rainbow trout under the surface of numerous frozen lakes. The frozen lakes are easily accessible from the city of Tampere.
15. New Brunswick igloo building
A fun winter activity for the whole family is igloo building. Each year the New Brunswick town of Grand Falls hosts an igloo building competition. The town holds the record for the world’s largest dome igloo.
16. Iceland’s Northern Lights
There are many great places in the world to see the Aurora Borealis during winter, from Alaska to Finland, but one of the best places in the world to see these colourful streaks across the night sky is in Iceland. During winter the multi-coloured Northern Lights are particularly spectacular over the Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon.
17. Iceland whale watching
While you’re in Iceland you can add whale watching to your bucket list. In Reykjavik’s old harbour you’ll be able to spot minke and humpbacks, and if you travel further north to the Grundarfjordur peninsula you’ll get to see some majestic killer whales. However, the best place to spot whales is in Húsavík in the north of the country, thanks to the variety of whales you’ll find there.
18. New England sleigh ride
Nothing says Christmas quite like an authentic New England sleigh ride. You can sit back and relax while you take in the sights of snow covered New Hampshire or Vermont countryside from a horse-drawn sleigh.
19. Ice skating in Budapest
The beautiful city of Budapest is the perfect place to enjoy winter activities like ice-skating. You can skate hand-in-hand in the Hungarian capital’s beautiful outdoor rink in the city park, Városligeti Műjégpálya. When you’ve had enough of the cold you can warm up at one of Budapest’s famous thermal baths.
20. Amsterdam Light Festival
This winter festival is ideal for the whole family. For 50 days in winter visitors to Amsterdam will get to enjoy magnificent light projections and sculptures. You can take a “Water Colours” boat tour to view the light projections over the canals, or take the “Illuminade” walking route through the city.