Cologne

In the run-up to Christmas, the city center of Germany’s “Cathedral City” is populated with several festive Christmas markets, each with its own theme. These lively markets include entertainment, arts and crafts, and food. Sip mulled wine and browse the stalls filled with trinkets, handicrafts, and holiday decor. One of the most popular markets in Cologne is the Weihnachtsmarkt am Dom (Christmas Market at the Cathedral), which features a massive Christmas tree and more than 100 free events.

When: February 24, 2022 to March 2, 2022 Millions of people come from all over the world to gather in the city and enjoy the festivities that date back to the Middle Ages. Being Germany, the beer and glühwein are excellent and free flowing, making this one of the booziest winter festivals on this list. The Cologne Winter Carnival‘s crazy events include ‘Fat Thursday’, involving women cutting off men’s ties and rewarding them with a kiss, and ‘Rose Monday’, which polishes off a weekend of drinking and fun with a day of marching bands, outrageous floats, and street parties. The festivities last around a week and, while things are still open, you’ll actually find people dressed up and in the holiday spirit all week long, even while working!

When: February 24, 2022 to March 2, 2022 Millions of people come from all over the world to gather in the city and enjoy the festivities that date back to the Middle Ages. Being Germany, the beer and glühwein are excellent and free flowing, making this one of the booziest winter festivals on this list. The Cologne Winter Carnival‘s crazy events include ‘Fat Thursday’, involving women cutting off men’s ties and rewarding them with a kiss, and ‘Rose Monday’, which polishes off a weekend of drinking and fun with a day of marching bands, outrageous floats, and street parties. The festivities last around a week and, while things are still open, you’ll actually find people dressed up and in the holiday spirit all week long, even while working! When: February 5th-14th, 2021 Where: Saranac Lake, NY 12983
One of the oldest winter festivals in the US, the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival has celebrated the winter season since 1897 with a host of events that center around the epic 3000-block Ice Palace. The Winter Carnival Royalty is crowned, winter games commence, and you can try some Nordic skiing, arctic frisbee, and ice skating if you are in any way competent on the ice. The highlight of the event, however, is saved right until the end when the ‘storming of the palace’ happens: a huge fireworks display is set off around the palace illuminating the ice for an unforgettable, magical finale. When: Dates change annually depending on the date of Easter, the main festival day falls on Shrove Tuesday. Where: Ljubljana, Slovenia
Slovenia is a country that loves festivals, and their winter carnival, which welcomes in the spring, is a larger-than-life mix of pagan and Christian traditions that have to be experienced. The Ljubljana Dragon Carnival is held in the central square in Maribor and is a wash of color, fun, and so many masks. You’ll see most of the city getting into the spirit of things by dressing up in costumes of bears, fairies, witches, and devils in an attempt to scare off the winter months and welcome in the warmer weather. You may be wondering where the dragon comes into all of this, and you won’t miss him since the big, green beast leads the parade and the creatures behind him. You can also head to other parts of Slovenia to catch some of the other masked winter festivals that happen around the same time. When: Feb 4th-27th, 2021
Where: Venues across Denmark If you’re after a winter festival of a different colour, throw yourself into Vinterfest, where they celebrate the cold months with over 600 jazz concerts all over Denmark. You can get into the winter spirit at some of Denmark’s largest music venues, or even snuggle up in a cozy Copenhagen cafe to absorb all the hygge atmosphere. With both national and international musicians performing and both paid and free performances, there’s never a dull moment during a Denmark winter season…

Cologne boasts several Christmas markets, the largest of which is in the city centre, beneath the appropriately stunning backdrop of Cologne’s iconic cathedral the one you can see in the picture. Markt der Engel offers some of the most magical moments, with hundreds of twinkling fairy lights suspended overhead like endless wondrous stars! Its just so beautiful.

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