Winter festivals for cold-weather getaways

SHERYL NANCE-NASH | 11/14/2019, 1:17 p.m.
No doubt winter can bring its share of the doldrums. But sometimes the best thing to do is to roll ...

No doubt winter can bring its share of the doldrums. But sometimes the best thing to do is to roll with reality. Embrace the cold, flip convention on its head and go somewhere snowy. If you’re not game for that, go ahead and seek out the sunshine. Whichever you choose, there are winter festivals all around the globe that offer a temporary reprieve from the winter blues.

Here’s where to go.

San Sebastian Street Festival—San Juan, Puerto Rico; Jan. 15-20, 2020

Come ready to party! The festival features parades, music, dancing, food, art and more. Travelers from across the world gather together to celebrate all things Puerto Rico. Located just a few minutes’ walk from historic Old San Juan, the Sheraton Puerto Rico Hotel & Casino is an ideal place to stay when traveling for this festival. After a long day parading the streets of Old San Juan, soak up the sun and take in unparalleled views of San Juan Bay all the way to the old city at the resort’s infinity-edge rooftop pool.

International Chocolate Weekend—Miami, Florida; Jan. 25-26, 2020

When it comes to nature in Miami, it’s easy to think of its white-sand beaches, swaying palms and the sparkling-blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean and Biscayne Bay. But drive just 30 minutes south of the beach, to posh Coral Gables, and you’ll stumble upon what is really Miami’s true natural wonder: Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden. Spread across 83 acres of manicured and protected green space, this waterfront garden is filled with more than 6,000 rare, exotic and colorful plants, from palms and flowers to shrubs, vines, fruit trees and more, many of which you won’t find anywhere else in America. You’ll especially want to be there for the Chocolate Festival. You know it tastes good, but you’ll discover a lot more about the sweet stuff. Go on a “ChocoWalk,” buy a cacao plant, eat artisan chocolates and chocolate snacks. Learn about chocolate-making from Miami’s master chefs and chocolatiers.

Copenhagen International Documentary Film Festival, CPH:DOX—Copenhagen, Denmark; March 18-29, 2020

This is one of the largest documentary film festivals in the world. Every year, the festival offers viewings of a variety of films at unique locations in the Danish capital. Whether it’s staged in a graveyard, an old church, The Blue Planet (Danish Aquarium Denmark), it’s always connected to the topic of the movie to set the right vibe. CPH:DOX also includes debates, artist talks, events, and master classes to complete the experience and create a space for the audience to reflect and discuss afterward. Take advantage to check out the recently opened urban skiing slope on top of a building, CopenHill.

Dana Point Festival of Whales—Dana Point, California; March 7-8, 14-15, 2020

What is it about whales that give you that sense of wonderment? Find out for yourself at the Dana Point Festival of Whales that celebrates the annual migration of the California Gray Whale. The festival offers a wide variety of free events that are fun for the whole family. Dana Point, located midway between Los Angeles and San Diego, is known for its culinary scene. The Charthouse Restaurant hugs the towering cliffs above Dana Point Harbor and provides a spectacular view along with its renowned steaks and seafood specialties. Cannon’s, also atop the cliffs of the point, offers outside dining and a fabulous array of goodies. The area is ideal for sailing, fishing and other water fun.

Frozen Assets Festival—Madison, Wisconsin; Feb. 1-2, 2020

The place to be the first weekend of February is The Edgewater Hotel, an urban resort on Lake Mendota in Madison. Who cares about the cold? Bundle up for the 5K Run/Walk on the Ice, the Fat Tire Ride on the Ice, kite flying and ice fishing demonstrations. Don’t miss the ice-skating demonstration on The Edgewater’s Grand Plaza Ice with local Olympians showing off their skills. Another must be the Benefit Party at The Edgewater.

Sweetheart Festival—Loveland, Colorado; Feb. 14-15, 2020

How can you go wrong with a festival that celebrates love of many things—family, romance, entertainment, beer, sweets, running and fun? Highlights include a new love lock sculpture that will be unveiled and available for people to lock their love during the festival, Special Effects Laser Light Show, live entertainment and the Palace of Sweets featuring local candy and dessert makers. Hit the For the Love of Beer Tent, showcasing Loveland craft beer and the official Loveland Valentine beer. There’s Kids Street with rides and activities, the Sweetheart Classic 4-miler and more. While in town, head to Chapungu Sculpture Park for Zimbabwe stone sculpture, the largest permanent exhibit of Zimbabwe stone sculpture in the U.S. Get some spicy Cajun at Mo Betta Gumbo, or wood-fired pizza at Origins.

World Snow Festival—Grindelwald, Switzerland; Jan. 20-25, 2020

The World Snow Festival in Grindelwald brings international artists together to create sculptures out of massive blocks of snow that are tallied by judges based on topicality, originality and skill, as well as public opinion. While there, don’t miss the longest sled run in Europe, Big Pintenfritz, which is 15 km long and runs from Faulhorn to Grindelwald.