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5 Great Winter Festivals

  • Great Winter Festivals
    Greg Ryan/Alamy

    En español | There’s more to winter than low temps, burly blizzards and lots of snow. It also happens to be a glorious season of dramatic early sunsets and peace and quiet to spare — to say nothing of skiing, skating and snowshoeing. So why not bundle up, hit the streets and raise a mug to Old Man Winter at these great winter festivals?

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  • Crowds at Ullr Fest in Breckenridge, Colorado, Great Winter Festivals, Travel
    Breckenridge Tourism Office

    Ullr Fest, Breckenridge, Colo.

    Some 12,000 fervent followers of Ullr, the Norse god of snow, are expected to turn out for this 54th celebration of Ullr Fest, which in 2017 will take place Jan. 11-14. The schedule is packed right from the opening bonfire: It includes a dating game, the wacky Ullympics (think competitive frying pan tosses and a retro-ski-wear relay) and the even wackier Ullr Fest Parade, featuring an impressive armada of Viking-themed floats and festgoers braving the cold in nothing but horned helmets and skivvies.

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  • Fireworks over Ice Palace St. Paul, Minnesota Winter Carnival, Great Winter Festivals, Travel
    Greg Ryan/Alamy

    St. Paul Winter Carnival, St. Paul, Minn.

    Modeled after Montreal’s Winter Carnival, the Saint Paul Winter Carnival includes an impressive ice castle, the crowning of King Boreas and his royal court, ice carving, snow sculpting and a pedestrian parade. The event’s founders (from 1886) would be happy to see how popular the citywide carnival has become: It’s expected to draw more than 350,000 celebrants during its 2017 run (Jan. 26-Feb. 5).

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  • Ice Carving Competition Stowe Winter Carnival, Vermont, Great Winter Festivals, Travel
    Paul Rogers/

    Stowe Winter Carnival, Stowe, Vt.

    First held in 1921, the Stowe Winter Carnival is one of New England’s snowiest — and showiest. The 2017 carnival, to be held Jan. 14-28, will boast an ambitious if unpronounceable theme: “StowOasis!” Don’t miss the pros going at it chisel and saw in the ice-carving competition, which yields ornate — though transitory — masterpieces. New this year will be a Broomball tournament and a beer garden event; for more family-friendly entertainment, check out the afternoon of games dubbed Kids Karnival Kaos.

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  • Great Winter Festivals
    Danita Delimont/Alamy

    Whitefish Winter Carnival, Whitefish, Mont.

    This standout bash features a polar plunge in Whitefish Lake and a parade populated by costumed revelers (watch out for the yetis). But the main event is the World Ski Joring Championships, in which a four-footed critter and rider propel a skier through a snow-covered obstacle course of jumps and gates. There are four classes (including a mule class), as well as a long jump. To top (hat) it all off, the 58th annual carnival (Feb. 3-5, 2017) will have a Dr. Seuss theme.

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  • Cordova Iceworm Festival in Alaska, Great Winter Festivals, Travel
    Design Pics Inc/Alamy

    Cordova Iceworm Festival, Cordova, Alaska

    Held during the sun-starved span of Feb. 1-5 in 2017, this quirky celebration honors Alaska’s little-known iceworm, which cannot survive warm weather but has no problem boring its way through glaciers. After taking in the Miss Iceworm Pageant, see if you can don a survival suit faster than your competitors, or view a procession of oversize iceworm puppets inspired by similarly serpentine Chinese dragon puppets.

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  • Crowds at Ullr Fest in Breckenridge, Colorado, Great Winter Festivals, Travel
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