Embracing the cold and enjoy winter festivals in February

by Jules on February 5, 2014

The weather may be cold and foreboding during winter, but in many parts of the world there are people who aren’t letting the winter weather dampen their spirits. In fact, they’re shouting about it, celebrating it even, and if it’s not the weather they’ll find something else to shout about.

Of course, a cozy log cabin in Lapland is always a nice way to embrace the winter, and normally leaves you with a fresh perspective of the season. However, if you have the world at your feet and want to explore, here are some extra places that will give you a warm glow despite the chill.

Carnaval de Quebec, Quebec City

Out in Quebec City, the world’s largest winter festival was created to counteract the winter blues. For 17 days every year, the city’s laugh in the face of winter, determined not to let Jack Frost have all the fun. Out come the dogs, ready to race for glory in the festival’s sled races. If you’re looking for something a little less high-octane, you can relax at the outdoor cinema.

Carnaval de Binche, Belgium

Come February, the Belgians seem to feel that there’s more to worry about than cold weather, as the Carnaval de Binche gets underway. In this festival the Gilles, local men who wear green-eyed masks and wave sticks around, set about earnestly to ward off evil spirits.

Incidentally, if anyone hurls oranges at you during the festival, it’s a gift. Don’t hurl one back in retaliation.

International Ice and Snow Festival, China

Heilongjiang may host one of the bitterest climates in Asia, but the Chinese aren’t about to let that stop them. There you can see ice sculptures of eminent buildings and structures. Past artistic feats with the ice include scaled-down versions of the Great Wall of China and the legendary Forbidden City. If that doesn’t impression you much, you might want to witness swimmers take a dip in the ice-cold Songhua River and live to tell the tale.

Feast of Saint Valentine, Terni, Italy

Naturally, when thoughts turn to February they turn to romance. One place where they like to celebrate Valentine’s Day is Terni, Italy, where they celebrate outside the basilica de San Valentino, saint’s burial place.  Activities include jewelry-making and, to honor an especially loving act, the ‘Year of Loving’ award.

Maslenitsa, Russia

The Russians sure know how to withstand the cold. Though it may be a little early to celebrate Spring as we know it, they celebrate the start of the Orthodox spring in the week leading up to Lent. If you thought beer-drinking bears or storytelling clowns were something you might only see in an Alice in Wonderland –style novel, they’re not…. not during Maslenitsa.

It may be dark outside and time to wrap up warm, but winter doesn’t have to be a season you hate. Take some time out to explore and you may even warm to it.

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