We're always the ones to advocate for cuddle-season, but these festivals might just be worth letting the winter chill in!
Up Helly Aa, Scotland
If you’re looking for something to light up your holidays, look no further than one of Europe’s largest fire festivals. This is a celebration of Scotland’s Viking heritage and is held on the last Tuesday of January every year. Sway along to traditional music and don’t miss the procession in costumes throwing torches into the galley!
The Light Festival, Amsterdam
Stretching from November through January, light installations brighten up Amsterdam’s quaint, snow-sprinkled canals. A new theme is picked each year and the artists interpret it in lights, with the reflection on the water amplifying their incandescence.
Rise Festival, Les Deux Alpes, France
Held in the middle of December each year, this ski and snowboard music festival is held at the largest skiable glacier in Europe. They also offer yoga and spa retreats so you can wind down after a day of festivities. Coachella in the snow, if we may say so.
Carnaval de Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Spain
The Canary Islands are flooded with colour, with parades, floats and carnival cheer in February each year and quirky add-ons like choosing the Carnival Queen and Burial of the Sardine. Get a splash of Rio mixed with Mardi Gras cheer here!
Winter Solstice, United Kingdom
Watching the sun rise over the Stonehenge on the Winter Solstice should definitely be on your bucket list if it isn’t already. The event tends to get crowded but that doesn’t take away the joy of seeing the first rays come up behind the stones on a cold, winter night.
We’ve all dreamt of bee-lining towards the Times Square on New Year’s Eve, battling the growing crowds to cop a spot to watch the ball drop. But this year, we suggest joining the crowds at Edinburgh’s Old Town for much merriment, dance, music, and drinks, all washed down with a glittering fireworks display (often considered the biggest in the world).
Horizon Festival, Andorra
The mountain-top Horizon music festival is one of the most popular in Europe and a must-do for all headed to the ski resort of Arinsal. Immerse yourself in local culture and indulge in the bounty of food and drinks (all at nominal prices!) at this seven-day-long soiree.
If you’re feeling like Cinderella (or Prince Charming) this year, head to the land where they certainly know how to do their royal balls! The Kaiserball is held in an actual palace on New Year’s eve, but plan in advance to make sure you get tickets!
New Year’s Dive, The Netherlands
Come January 1st, head to the beach of Scheveningen to join thousands on Dutch swimmers in a dive into the North Sea to celebrate the traditional beginning of the new year. This custom is practiced in multiple locations around the country and dates back to the 1960s.
Carnival of Binche, Belgium
Think of the Tomatina festival, but replace the tomatoes with oranges. This is one of the attractions of the Unesco Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity, Carnival of Binche. The festival is a mix of street performances, marching men in costumes and masks, and dancing to drumbeats on the streets of Binche — all leading up to Lent.