Jessica Festa a RoamRight Blog Author

America’s Top Winter Festivals


Image source: Tahoe SnowFest and Tom O'Neill

For those traveling this winter, why not plan your trip around a festival? Annual events are a great way to learn about local culture and meet community members in an interactive way. Whether you're interested in music, winter sports, family-friendly fare or something quirky we’ve got you covered. To help you plan your trip, here are some of America’s top winter festivals.

Anchorage Fur Rendezvous (Anchorage, Alaska)

Taking place this year from February 21 to March 2, 2014, the Anchorage Fur Rendezvous is an annual Alaska tradition, started 77 years ago. The 10-day festival features a mix of winter sports, culture, Native art, delicious food and family-friendly activities. Events take place all over Anchorage each day, with some unusual highlights including dog sled races, an Alaska Native-style blanket toss, a beard competition, competitive snowball fights, snowshoe softball, snow sculpture competitions, a carnival, costumed fun runs, fireworks, softball games and much more. For something extremely quirky, don’t miss the annual Fur Rondy Outhouse Races, where competitors race down a mountain on skis carrying homemade porta-potties. Whether you go for one day or the entire festival, there will be plenty of activities to choose from.

Steamboat Springs Winter Carnival (Steamboat Springs, Colorado)

Touted as “the oldest, continuous winter carnival west of the Mississippi,” the Steamboat Springs Winter Carnival is a USA winter tradition that’s over 100 years old. The focus of the event is the season and its unique offerings, especially in terms of culture and sports. Sit on a shovel while being pulled by a horse, compete in obstacle courses, watch a marching band on skis, try your luck in a slalom bike race, open field jump on skis and more. This is a great even for families, as many of the events are geared toward kids. This year’s Steamboat Springs Winter Carnival will take place February 5 to February 9, 2014.

Winter Music Conference (Miami, Florida)

For those who love electronic music, the Winter Music Conference is one of the world’s biggest genre festivals. Taking place this year from March 21 to 30, 2014, attendees can expect over 2,100 artists and DJs as well as more than 50 panels, seminars and workshops. Each year, electronic music’s biggest names from around the globe head to Miami to entertain over 100,000 attendees. Along with the many live shows, some highlights of the Winter Music Conference include the Electric Beach Annual Beach Festival, perusing music industry gear and technology exhibits, the DJ Spin-Off, Remixing and Editing Workshops, and the Rooftop Pool Party and the Dream Hotel.

Lowcountry Oyster Festival (Charleston, South Carolina)

While oyster festivals are often a summer event, Charleston helps people enjoy the seafood delicacy in the colder months. The Lowcountry Oyster Festival -- which takes place this year on January 26, 2014 -- boasts being the largest of its kind in the world, serving about 80,000 pounds of the shellfish. The location of the event is Boone Hall Plantation, with highlights being an Oyster Shucking and Eating Contest, oyster recipe competitions, live music, pony rides, bouncy castles, edible oyster creations and an impressive assortment of domestic and imported beers. Travel tip: If you’ve got time, get there a week early and partake in discounted dining at top restaurants during Charleston Restaurant Week, happening January 8 through 19, 2014.

Sundance Film Festival (Park City, Utah)

Held each January in Park City, Utah, the Sundance Film Festival is a premier event for anyone interested in independent films with an evocative and inspirational story to tell. In fact, the Sundance Film Festival is the largest annual independent film festival in the country, showcasing 200 movies and attracting more than 50,000 people, including many celebrities. Some titles to be on the lookout for in 2014 include “#PostModern,” which takes a satirical look at today’s technology; “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints,” the story of an outlaw couple and the hardships they face, and “American Promise,” which takes a deep look into educational access in the USA. Along with watching films, attendees can enjoy live music, interesting discussions, panel debates, and special events put on by local Park City businesses. This year’s Sundance Film Festival will take place from January 16 through 26, 2014.

Saranac Lake Winter Carnival (Adirondacks, New York)

Taking place this year from January 31 to February 9, 2013, the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival showcases one of New York’s most beautiful destinations. What began as a one-day festival to help get locals through the cold winter is now an annual week-long event featuring variety shows, curling, broomball, skiing, tubing races, snowshoe races, ultimate Frisbee, multiple parades, an ice king and ice queen crowning, and fireworks. The main attraction of the festival is the Ice Palace, crafted from ice bricks from the local Lake Flower. Those who love the outdoors even when it’s chilly should plan on spending extra time in the Adirondacks, as there are plenty of opportunities nearby for snowshoeing, skiing, snowmobiling, ice fishing, winter photography, ice skating and more.

National Cowboy Poetry Festival (Elko, Nevada)

An annual celebration of western tradition and culture, this year’s National Cowboy Poetry Festival will take place from January 27 to February 1, 2014, in the small community of Elko. Attendees can enjoy a truly traditional experience, with fireside song and poetry, poetry workshops, leather working classes, Dutch oven cooking lessons, Western arts experiences and live performances. You’ll leave with a deeper understanding and appreciation of the cowboy way of life.

North Lake Tahoe SnowFest (Tahoe, California)

Taking place this year from February 28 to March 9, 2014, the North Lake Tahoe SnowFest has been happening since 1982. For 10 days each winter, the destination is filled with fun activities like parades, live music, ski races, fundraising dinners, ice carving competitions, dog costume contests, snow sculpture competitions and other events showing the destination as worthwhile both on and off the slopes. Don’t miss the vibrant fireworks show, and make sure to root on your favorite contestant in the extreme food eating challenge.

Which of these festivals do you want to visit?

Note: Available plans and coverages may have changed since this blog was published.

About the Author

Jessica Festa

Jessica Festa, a RoamRight Blog Author Jessica Festa is a full-time travel writer who is always up for an adventure. She enjoys getting lost in new cities and having experiences you don’t read about in guidebooks. Some of her favorite travel experiences have been teaching English in Thailand, trekking her way through South America, backpacking Europe solo, road tripping through Australia and doing orphanage work in Ghana. You can follow her adventures on her travel websites, Epicure & Culture and Jessie On A Journey. You can also connect with Jessica directly on Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus, or follow her epicurean adventures on Facebook and Twitter.

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