Nothing says "let it snow" like winter snow sport festivals, where freezing temperatures and blizzard-like conditions are reasons to celebrate. From skiing to snow sculpting to "polar bear" plunges, these festivals embody the joy of winter recreation. Our choices for the 10 best in North America combine spirited winter activities with scenic surroundings.
Photo Credit: Jim Kravitz
Where: Aspen, Colorado
When: January 9-12, 2014
The 2014 Winterskol celebration marks its 63rd year, and Aspen's popular winter carnival is showing no signs of slowing down. The new Fat Bike Race pits competitors riding bikes with extra-wide tires known as fatbikes against each other on a slippery, snow-covered course. As always, the Soupskol contest encourages Aspen's world-class restaurants to duke it out over who can make the best soup.
Insider Tip: Winterskol is the only time Aspen offers night skiing, thanks to torches and fireworks lighting up the evening sky.
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor's Aspen Guide
Photo Credit: Mavrick/Shutterstock
OURAY ICE CLIMBING FESTIVAL
Where: Ouray, Colorado
When: January 9-12, 2014
The biggest ice climbing festival in North America takes place every January in southwestern Colorado, in the small town of Ouray. Even if you have no interest in climbing, the park is a must-see with jaw-dropping walls of blue ice lining the rugged Uncompahgre Gorge. This year's Ouray Ice Climbing Festival events include climbing competitions, demonstrations, clinics, presentations, films, and a gear expo.
Insider Tip: Brand-new beginners can try ice climbing on the 30-foot practice wall, known by locals as the Kids' Wall.
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor's Ouray Guide
Photo Credit: Joyce Sherwin/Shutterstock
Where: Banff National Park, Alberta
When: January 10-February 9, 2014
SnowDays may be only three years old, but the new festival is off to an impressive start. Spanning 30 days and 361 events at various sites throughout Banff National Park, this year's SnowDays features a send-off party for Canada's Winter Olympics Team. Other highlights include a 40-foot ice-climbing wall erected in downtown Banff, the International Ice Carving Competition, and ongoing skating, skiing, snowshoeing, dog sledding, Geocaching, and sleigh rides.
Insider Tip: This is the festival to experience first-hand the quintessentially Canadian sports of curling and street ball hockey.
Plan Your Trip: Visit Fodor's Banff National Park Guide