Cedarburg Winter Festival - Cedarburg, WI; Courtesy of Cedarburg Winter Festival
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11 Winter Festivals Worth Traveling For In 2020

See recent posts by Lissa Poirot

Even after the winter holidays have passed, many cities offer family-friendly festivals with ice-skating rinks, carnival rides, workshops, fireworks, food and more. Pack your heavy winter coats and head one of these exciting winter festivals in 2020.

Winter Carnival – Quebec City, Canada; Courtesy of Winter Carnival

1. Winter Carnival – Quebec City, Canada

Feb. 7 to 16, 2020

Looking for winter festival activity ideas? Quebec City knows how to celebrate winter in style. Quebec’s world-famous Winter Carnival features First Night and Second Night Parades, ice skating, an ice palace and a number of unique activities for families, including a Snow Bath, sleigh race and dog sled rides. The festival also features snow sculptures and workshops, crafts, arctic spas, fireworks and plenty of food, including delectable fare found at the Sugar Shack.

Recommended Hotel: Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac

Winterlude - Ottawa, Canada; Courtesy of TripAdvisor Traveler/jennyrocha


2. Winterlude – Ottawa, Canada

Jan. 31 to Feb. 17, 2020

Three weekends are devoted to this winter festival in Ottawa. The festival includes culinary events, ice carvings and snow sculptures, as well as Snowflake Kingdom, a snow playground filled with snow slides, obstacle courses and more fun the kids won’t be able to get enough of! Be sure to lace on some ice skates for Rideau Canal, the world’s largest naturally frozen skating rink!

Recommended Hotel: Rideau Heights Inn

Newport Winter Festival - Newport, RI; Courtesy of Shutterstock

3. Newport Winter Festival – Newport, RI

Feb. 14 to 23, 2020

As the self-proclaimed largest winter extravaganza in New England, the Newport Winter Festival features more than 150 events filled with food, fun, and music for the whole family. There are ice sculpting demonstrations, a kids’ fair, beach polo and a princess party, where kids can dress up as their favorite princess. Families can easily warm up at this multi-day festival at the annual chili cook-off or the mac and cheese smackdown that both take place during the festival. The mac and cheese competition takes place at Gurney’s Newport Resort, where there’s also an ice skating rink and heated igloos that overlook the Narragansett Bay. Each igloo is themed and has its own activities inside, plus cocktail pairings for adults.

Recommended Hotel: Gurney’s Newport Resort and Marina


winter carnival in steamboat springs; Courtesy of Steamboat Springs Chamber/ Rory B. Clow

4. Winter Carnival – Steamboat Springs, CO

Feb. 5 to 9, 2020

For more than 100 years, families have visited Steamboat Springs for its annual five-day Winter Carnival, the oldest continually running winter carnival west of the Mississippi, Your family will love the town’s skijoring events down Lincoln Avenue! Ski jumping, racing, parades and the Lighted Man and fireworks night show are annual highlights. Don’t miss the country’s only skiing high school band perform in the parade!

Recommended Hotel: Sheraton Steamboat Resort

SnowFest - Lake Tahoe, CA; Courtesy of DIamond Peak Ski Resort

5. SnowFest – Lake Tahoe, CA

Feb. 28 to March 8, 2020

North Lake Tahoe will celebrate great spring weather and skiing with 10 days and nights of fun for its 39th consecutive year. Snow events are held at popular ski resorts like Squaw Valley, Diamond Peak, Northstar-at-Tahoe, Alpine Meadows and Homewood, and include parades, races, concerts and special events for all ages.

Recommended Hotel: Resort at Squaw Creek


Cedarburg Winter Festival - Cedarburg, WI; Courtesy of Cedarburg Winter Festival

6. Cedarburg Winter Festival – Cedarburg, WI

Feb. 15 to 16, 2020

Just north of Milwaukee, Cedarburg welcomes winter and beats the winter blues at the Winter Festival. This two-day festival includes ice carvings, costumed bed racing, barrel races on ice, ice skating, snow golf, live music, arts and crafts, and and an all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast.

Recommended Hotel: The Brewhouse Inn & Suites

Snow Days - Lake Louise, Canada; Courtesy of Banff & Lake Louise Tourism

7. Snow Days – Lake Louise, Canada

Jan. 15 to 26, 2020

Located within Banff National Park in Alberta, Canada, the Ice Magic and Snow Days winter festivals take place right on Lake Louise. Surrounded by snowcapped Canadian Rockies Mountains, Snow Days is a multi-day festival filled with snow sculpture exhibits (different from ice carvings), ice skating, skijoring (skiing while being pulled by a horse or dog sled), fat-tire mountain biking, live music and Ice Magic, the international ice carving competitions. Situated right in front of the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, families can watch the Ice Magic creations, such as an impressive ice castle and ice bar, be created throughout the festival in different types of competitions. 

Recommended Hotel: Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise

8. Festival du Voyageur – Winnipeg, Canada

Feb. 14 to 23, 2020

This annual outdoor winter festival has been taking place in Winnipeg’s french neighborhood since 1970 and more than 95,000 people attend the 10-day event. The winter festival promotes joie de vivre or a zest for life with live music, children’t activities, snow slides and snow forts, tons of food, cultural experiences and an International Snow Sculpting exhibit. The Beard Growing Contest (with four different categories) and Fiddling and Jigging Contests may be the highlights for both locals and out-of-towners.

Recommended Hotel: Inn at the Forks

Stowe Mountain Lodge Ice SKating Rink; Courtesy of Stowe Mountain Lodge

9. Stowe Winter Carnival – Stowe, VT

Jan. 23 to 26, 2020

The ski destination of Stowe, Vermont, hosts its 46th annual winter carnival in 2020, featuring ice carving competitions, snow golf, snow volleyball, ski races, and kids’ carnival. At night, Carnival “meltdown” parties take place for parents, and throughout the event, competitive sports keep visitors entertained when not enjoying the slopes themselves.

Recommended Hotel: Stowe Mountain Lodge


St. Paul Winter Carnival - St. Paul, MN; Courtesy of Shutterstock

10. St. Paul Winter Carnival – St. Paul, MN

Jan. 23 to Feb. 2, 2020

The oldest and biggest winter festival began in St. Paul in 1886 as a way to prove a reporter wrong: St. Paul isn’t too cold for people in the winter! The event draws more than 350,000 visitors each year and includes live entertainment and a parade with the crowning of a snow queen. An added bonus for this winter festival is that most of the events are free.

Recommended Hotel: Embassy Suites Hotel St. Paul – Downtown

Winter WonderFest - Chicago, IL; Courtesy of Choose Chicago

11. Winter WonderFest – Chicago, IL

Dec. 6, 2019 to Jan. 12, 2020

Leading the winter festival activities is Chicago’s Navy Pier, which hosts Winter WonderFest to coincide with the holiday season. The 19th annual event features a 170,000-square-foot winter playground, complete with indoor ice skating and fair-style slides, rides and fun for kids of all ages and sizes. Families will  love the 15-foot-high tubing hill, Toboggan Tunnel roller sled ride, Winter Rules Mini Golf and Snowglobe Live, where you can take a photo inside a 15-foot-tall snow globe.

Recommended Hotel: Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel

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