Cold weather calls for snuggles, cozying up on the couch and relaxing, but as the winter wears on, it can get a little boring. Thankfully, we've come up with our favorite festivals for couples looking to shake the winter blues.
Quebec Winter Carnival (Quebec)
Known as the largest winter carnival in the world, this 17-day event (from January 30th–February 15th) dates back to Quebec's origins, when the habitants would typically eat, drink and be merry together before settling down for Lent. The Quebec Winter Carnival has jam-packed programming from traditional canoe and dogsled races to night parades and the electric Jamboree. After playing giant foosball in the snow, racing down gigantic slides, or even participating in an urban obstacle course, couples can sip cocktails and enjoy tastings at Bulles, Whiskey & Cie, the Ice Bar and its Terrace, and the Saq Cocktail Zone.
An annual festival known around the world, Carnival in Venice is a magical time. Held before the Christian Lenten season, the festival leaves Venice filled with masked partiers, dancing, celebrations, incredible food and drink, and more. Costume contests, beauty pageants, balls and parades are just a few of the fun and festive activities filling each day of Carnival, which begins February 11th and runs through February 28th. Be certain to head to your favorite mask shop and spend time in St. Mark's square taking it all in.
Nice Carnival (France)
February 10th to February 26th, this annual celebration along the French Riviera is another version to the more traditional carnival celebrations. Held for a two-week span, coastal Nice becomes party central with pumping music, dancing, costumes and celebrations. With each day promising new parades, performances and fireworks, Nice Carnival is a wonderful chance to see the city come alive, while taking in other sites within France, too.
Mardi Gras (New Orleans)
Hands down, this is the best time to visit New Orleans, although when you're in NOLA every day is a celebration. For the two weeks of the Mardi Gras season (similar to Carnival), the streets are packed with partiers who've been waiting all year to return. One-of-a-kind floats on parade fill each day and evening, and there are more celebrations, parties and musical performances than you can count. All of the events culminate on Fat Tuesday, which lands on February 28th this year (the day before the Christian holiday Ash Wednesday), for one last opportunity to celebrate before the season comes to a close. For the couple that loves a good time, New Orleans during Mardi Gras is a perfect destination. As they say in Louisiana, "Laissez les bons temps rouler!" (Let the good times roll!)
February 3rd to February 20th, nearly 600,000 people head to Ottawa to partake in Winterlude, a winter playground for anyone who loves snow, twinkling lights and festive winter activities. Perfect for winter-loving couples, Winterlude is chock full of celebrations, culinary events, skating, music and a truly unique experience — the annual Accora Village Bed Race. (Yep, you read that correctly — bed race.) Marvel at the intricate ice sculptures, then ice skate hand-in-hand at the Rideau Canal Skateway before indulging in gourmet cuisine and wine pairings for the perfect winter evening.
Rio Carnival (Brazil)
It's hard to believe Rio could be even more colorful, fun and celebratory than it is on any typical day — but during Rio Carnival, it is. This five-day celebration runs February 24th through February 28th and is chock full of parades, street bands, ceremonies, parties, dancing, drinking and more. Aside from the extensive cultural sights and adventures that Rio boasts, this is a prime time to visit for couples looking to party. Just remember your Samba shoes!
Las Fallas (Spain)
Also known as the Festival of Fire, this festival in Valencia is rooted in religion but has grown into a cultural celebration that draws visitors from near and far. During the festival, which takes place each year March 15th to March 19th, the days are early and long, but jam-packed with fun. Typical festival days begin with street music as early as 8 a.m., and literally takes off from there. Fireworks, and fire in general, are at the cornerstone of the celebrations, but will culminate on the last night for a truly unique experience. The statues and decorations participants created are all destroyed during the La Nit de Foc, burned to a backdrop of booming fireworks and a grand fire held in Plata Ayuntamiento. While in Spain, travel around the country checking out various cities on your trek to the festival.