Chill out with carvers, climbers, skiers and history makers during festive celebrations of winter. Here are five gatherings to consider:
Tahoe City, Calif.
Explore winter recreational opportunities during this nine-day Alpenglow Mountain Festival organized for backcountry enthusiasts with little or intermediate experience. With nearly 100 events from which to choose, and most offered at no charge, it’s an opportunity to sample guided ski tours, snow-shoe outings and cross-country and skate-skiing clinics. You can bone up on important safety measures during avalanche information sessions and other educational workshops. Feb. 15-23.
St. Paul, Minn.
Considered one of the oldest winter festivals in the U.S., this family-friendly event includes polar plunges, day and evening parades, ice-horse-racing, bob-sledding and ice carving, as well as a liberal serving of lore. It’s said that a New York reporter once referred to St. Paul as “another Siberia, unfit for human habitation” in winter. In response, the Chamber of Commerce set out to prove there was good fun to be had during the frosty days of winter and the Carnival was born. That was in 1885. Jan. 23-Feb. 2.
This small southwestern Colorado mountain town, known for its picturesque jagged peaks, is home to one of the country’s premiere ice festivals. Competitors of all levels, climbing companies and spectators gather for the event, now in its 25th year, and the opportunity to demo the latest ice tools, apparel and gear. Jan. 23-26.
The Annual Whitefish Winter Carnival kicks off with the coronation of a king and queen, followed by a Penguin Plunge (a hole is cut into Whitefish Lake and participants take a dip to raise funds for charity). Visitors are welcomed by mountain men, penguins and Viking divas, otherwise known as the costume-clad volunteers who share stories and point the curious toward the old-fashioned Main Street parade, an ice sculpting contest, a kids’ carnival, a pie social and a pancake breakfast. Feb. 7-9.
Quebec City, Quebec
Visit the world’s “snow capital” to join in Quebec’s Winter Carnival, a 10-day celebration of all things icy cold. Launched in 1894, the winterfest includes a parade led by a cheery mascot called Bonhomme, and performances that combine technology, pyrotechnics and circus arts, all to the delight of onlookers. Sign up for an ice sculpture workshop, watch canoe races on the St. Lawrence River, and strap on skates for a spin. Visitors are encouraged to wander through the warm-hearted city but are reminded to bundle up for frosty fun. Feb. 7-16.