December’s holidays may have come and gone, but the next few months of cold weather still offer plenty of reason to celebrate. From ice sculptures and outdoor film festivals to sledding competitions and fabulous food, the winter season holds something for everyone. Our Forbes Travel Guide editors found five can’t-miss winter-wonderland events:
Naples Winter Wine Festival
You don’t have to travel to Italy to enjoy the best of the wine world. Instead, head to the other Naples for Florida’s Naples Winter Wine Festival, an event that attracts nearly 600 people to Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, Naples each year. The 2013 When Stars Align–themed event, held January 25 to 27, brings together top toques like Michael Anthony of Four-Star Gramercy Tavern; wine experts including Heath Porter of Four-Star The Greenbrier; and the industry’s most prestigious vintners, including Ram’s Gate Winery. For $8,500, couples will enjoy a live auction featuring rare wines, wine tastings and intimate chef dinners over three days. It’s also a chance to support a philanthropic cause; the event, held by Naples Children & Education Foundation, has raised $107 million for underprivileged and at-risk children since 2001.
Harbin Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival
Although Harbin Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival officially starts on January 5each year (and goes through February), visitors begin arriving in the northeastern Chinese town days after Christmas to watch ice sculptors from around the globe put the finishing touches on this elaborate ice and snow wonderland. Be sure to view the intricate snow sculptures by day and see the lit ice carvings glitter at night. Beyond the sculpture gardens, Harbin also offers visitors alpine ski slopes at nearby Yabuli and wildlife expeditions at its Siberian Tiger Park. The extremely adventurous also enjoy “polar bear” swimming in the frozen Songhua River.
If you’d rather escape the cold weather than revel in it, join chef Eric Ripert for the best in Caribbean cuisine. Ripert’s Cayman Cookout, held January 17 to 20 this year, brings together some of the top U.S. and Caribbean culinary talent at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman, for a four-day food fantasy. With packages starting at $899, guests can enjoy the talents of chefs like David Kinch of Four-Star Manresa and Daniel Humm of Five-Star Eleven Madison Park; indulge in freshly caught seafood prepared on the beach; sit fireside for tell-all sessions with Forbes Travel Guide Tastemakers Ripert, Anthony Bourdain and José Andrés; and, of course, soak up the crystal-blue Cayman waters.
Quebec Winter Carnival
New Orleans may have Bourbon Street, but the so-called Mardi Gras of the North offers ice canoe racing, winter camping and Bonhomme, the festival’s adorably chubby snowman mascot. Between February 1 and 17, the winter party set will embark on Quebec City for the self-proclaimed largest winter carnival, where they’ll find plenty of caribou (a vodka-brandy-sherry-port combo) instead of NOLA’s Hurricanes. Daytime merriment at Quebec Winter Carnival includes rafting, ice slides and sleigh rides, and the party continues long into the night with ice bars, arctic spas, parades and dance parties featuring world-renowned DJs.
Tromsø International Film Festival
If you’re looking for an alternative to the glitz of Sundance, head to Norway’s premiere international film festival. Winter’s lack of daylight in this polar destination provides the perfect dusky setting for a showcase of films on Tromsø’s outdoor screen. More than 50,000 visitors will flock to the event, which takes place January 14 to 20, to watch a variety of shorts, documentaries and independent films; attend award ceremonies; and mingle with the filmmakers. This year’s line-up includes the eagerly anticipated Signals: Israel, a collection of feature films and documentaries that offer an insider perspective on Israeli life.
Photos Courtesy of Carnival de Quebec, Naples Winter Wine Festival and Harbin Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival