8 Best Winter Festivals in the U.S.

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A list from Travel + Leisure showcases festivals that include snow golf and volleyball, skiers hanging onto a cowboy on horseback and plungers jumping into the icy waters.

From a polar bear plunge in Maryland to ice climbing in VermontTravel + Leisure composed a list of some of the best winter festivals around the U.S.

Here are eight winter festivals the magazine recommended: 

Steamboat Winter Carnival 

 The Steamboat Winter Carnival, in Colorado, is part winter festival, part rodeo. At the event, there are horse-drawn shovel races, and also ski events in which skiers hang onto a lasso held by a cowboy on horseback, the magazine says. According to Springboat Springs website, the event will be Feb. 9-13.

Stowe Winter Carnival

Stowe, Vermont hosts this annual carnival, which has over 20 activities for all ages. Families can enjoy traditional winter activities like downhill ski races, ice hockey games, an ice carving competition, a snow volleyball tournament and snow golf, the magazine says.

According to Stowe, Vermont's website, the carnival will be Jan. 20-23.

Ouray Ice Climbing Festival

Every January, Ouray, Colorado is home to the country’s largest ice climbing festival. The event has gigantic walls of blue ice lining the Uncompahgre Gorge. The festival also has climbing competitions, demonstrations, clinics, presentations, films and a gear expo, according to the magazine.

According to the Ouray Ice Park website, the festival will be Jan. 20-23,  and every dollar made during the festival will fund the operational costs of the Ouray Ice Park.

Polar Bear Plunge

Maryland’s Plunge Fest, in Annapolis, attracts more than 25,000 plungers and spectators every year on the Chesapeake Bay, raising money for the Special Olympics Maryland, the magazine says.

The Polar Bear Plunge is part of Maryland's history, according to Plunge Maryland. For the past 25 years, thousands of plungers have jumped into the icy waters of the Chesapeake Bay. 

The event will be in person and virtual Feb. 3-5. 

Saint Paul Winter Carnival 

St. Paul, Minnesota, one of the coldest cities in the U.S. during the winter, is home to the Saint Paul Winter Carnival, the oldest and largest American winter festivals, according to Travel + Leisure. The carnival attracts visitors from across the country and is best known for its gigantic ice castle.

According to the Saint Paul Winter Festival website, the event will be from Jan. 28 – Feb. 6. 

Fire & Ice Winterfest

Lava Hot Springs, Idaho is famous for its natural hot springs, which play a large part in this winter event, the magazine says. The festival ends with a race from one hot spring to the next via downtown. Visitors can also catch the Polar Float Parade, where everyone is encouraged to dress up in creative costumes and float down the Portneuf River.

According to the Fire & Ice website, the festival will be Feb. 4 and 5.

Saranac Lake Winter Carnival

Saranac Lake, New York is home to the longest-running winter festival in the eastern U.S., the magazine claims. Visitors can enjoy winter sports like Nordic skiing and ice skating, and quirky activities like ultimate arctic Frisbee and a women's skillet toss.. 

The 2022 carnival, which has an ‘80s theme, will take place Feb. 4-13, according to the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival website.

Oregon WinterFest

Bend's WinterFest is one of the state’s largest winter events. Celebrating everything Oregon has to offer in wintertime, the festival boasts the challenging outdoor obstacle course, kids activities organized by the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, artisan fire pits, ice sculptures and a wine walk, the magazine says.

According to the Oregon WinterFest's website, the activities run from Feb. 18-20. 

If you want to check out the other winter festivals provided by Travel + Leisure click here.

Andre Claudio is the assistant editor for Route Fifty

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