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Top 6 Wonderful Winter Festivals

Winter Festivals for Adventurers and Spectators From Aspen to Alaska

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Wrapping a winter vacation around a winter festival gives you the heart of a terrific trip to resorts or regions that love to party when there's snow on the ground. All of these annual festivals are chock-full of activities and events that are equal fun for spectators and participants. They have a common denominator, too: the festivals are in resorts and locales where there's lots to do outdoors, whether it's dog sledding, alpine or cross country skiing, ice climbing, sledding or other winter sports. The links to festival sites will lead you to annual dates and more details about the festivals.

1. Furs Not Required at the Fur Rendezvous in Anchorage, Alaska

Dog Sled Race at Fur Rendezvous in Anchorage, Alaska

Don't let race names like "Frostbite Footrace" mislead you. The annual Fur Rendezvous Festival, February 21-March 4, 2014 takes place in Anchorage, where the weather is surprisingly mild that time of year and daylight lasts for more than 10 hours. The city is protected by the Chugach Mountains and warmed by Japanese currents, so the average high in late February is 25 degrees and the average low is 9 degrees. Activities include dog-sled races, coed snowshoe softball and creating snow sculptures. For the less active, there are melodramas, native arts & crafts shows and fireworks. Photo credit: Al Grillo

2. Aspen, Colorado, Rocks During the ESPN Winter X Games

When the ESPN Winter X Games came to Aspen, Colorado, several years ago they attracted an entirely new audience: a young, cool and not necessarily rich crowd that loves winter sports games with a decided edge. Skier X, SuperPipe, Snowboard Best Trick Showdown, Snowmobile Freestyle and Snowmobile Snowcross are just sampling of the extreme sports you can watch. Expect non-stop partying, music bands and crowds during the 2013 Winter X Games, Jan. 23-26, 2014. If you don't make it, watch the live programming on ESPN and ABC and you'll book early for next year.

3. Carnaval de Quebec in Quebec City, Canada

Help Quebec City celebrate its 400th anniversary during this year's three-week long Carnaval de Quebec, Jan. 31-Feb. 14, 2014 You could watch (or participate in) the canoe race on the icy St. Lawrence River, or cheer for the dog sleds racing on snow-covered street in the Old Quebec sector of this city, with its distinctly French flair. Around the races this year there are night parades with extravagantly designed floats, outdoor dance parties and lots of other activities.

4. World Ski & Snowboard Festival in Whistler, Canada

Pushing the boundaries is what the World Ski & Snowboard Festival at Whistler/Blackcomb in British Columbia, is all about. Mascot Mayhem, Whistler Dogfest and World Backcountry Freeride Jam are clues to the action during this spring party, April 11-20, 2014. Expect non-stop activities during the day, lot of demos and live concerts when the lifts shut down.

5. The International Hot Air Balloon Meeting in the Swiss Alps

Image yourself drifting over the Swiss Alps in a hot air balloon. Or, looking up as some 100 balloons from 20 countries fill the sky during the annual International Hot Air Balloon Meeting, Jan. 25-Feb. 2, 2014. During the week there will dirigibles in the sky, parachuting and paragliding demonstrations, tethered balloon flights and much more.

6. The Saranac Winter Carnival in New York is More than a Century Old

Saranac Winter Festival, New York, Lawn Chair Ladies dance routine.
Rebecca Steffan

The two-week-long Saranac Lake Winter Carnival celebrates all things winter. During the festival, a fireworks display is set against the background of the massive Ice Palace (designed anew every year and built using two ton blocks carved from Lake Flower) and participatory events include such oddball activities as the Ladies Fry Pan Toss. The theme for this year's festival, Jan. 31-Feb. 9, 2014, is "Celtic Carnival".

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