Text by: Quartz Co.

Text by: Quartz Co. Editorial Team

Wintertime doesn't mean your cultural agenda should slow down, in fact, these five winter festivals all offer some great opportunities for outdoor fun and discovery. Which one will make you want to hop on a plane and go on an adventure? 

The Amsterdam Light Festival is renowned as one of the world’s biggest stages for international light art. Luminous art installations can be found across the city for the duration of the festival and can be discovered on foot, on bike, or on boat. Many boat tours catering to a variety of budgets and interests are available, so you’ll definitely find one that works for you. The theme of the eighth edition theme was DISRUPT! and artists took it to heart, creating artworks that reinvented public spaces and moved visitors to question themselves and their environment. The festival also hosts a range of original activities and artist talks. 

The Quebec Winter Carnival is the largest winter carnival in the world and one of the oldest of its kind. The event was first held in 1894 as a way to liven up the dark Canadian nights during the long winter, but the first edition of the Carnival as we know it today was held in 1955. Truly a celebration of northern life, the festival honors the French Canadian heritage. Wear an arrow sash, greet the emblematic Bonhomme snowman, walkthrough impressive ice sculptures, and watch canoes race across the icy Saint Lawrence river for a wholly unforgettable experience.  

The Vinterjazz is an annual, nationwide winter jazz festival held across Denmark cities and towns since 2001. A true celebration of both Danish and international jazz talent, with both seasoned headliners and new blood from the local scene! You can attend concerts in unusual venues from churches to bars, cafes, theatres, and public spaces. There’s something for everyone! The 2020 edition features performers including Chick Corea, Wynton Marsalis, and legendary Brazilian artist Gilberto Gil. With over 600 concerts held in 150 venues over 3 weeks, you can be sure to see old favorites and discover new bands to enjoy. 

Up Helly Aa is a winter festival like no other. Best described as a sort of Viking Mardi Gras, it is held on the days leading up to Ash Wednesday and culminates on Shrove Tuesday. Festival-goers celebrate the island’s Norse origins by dressing up as Vikings and conveying for a torchlit procession, the highlight of which is the burning of a replica Viking galley. The event is popular for its dancing and drinking culture with an authentic twist, as well as its many parties and bonfires. Thankfully, Ash Wednesday is a public holiday, allowing for everybody attending to recover after indulging in the celebration. 

Snowbombing is the original alpine music festival. Taking place over the course of a week in the heart of the Tyrolean Alps, it’s an amazing opportunity for a winter getaway. Concert venues include alpine forests, mountaintops, igloos, and even a butcher shop! You can combine your admission to the festival with a lift ticket, and spend time on the slopes before partying to the sound of some of the world’s best DJs and live acts. Set some time aside to visit one of Mayrhofen’s spas for a relaxing break during your stay.