One of the best reasons for pulling out your Road Trip Planner during Winter is when your road trip includes a Winter Festival. Enjoying the spectacle of a Winter Festival is something that appeals to people of all ages so it makes a particularly easy one to plan. Couples, families, a group of friends…all will find the trip a highlight of their winter fun.
The following Festivals (listed alphabetically by state/province) stretch from East to West and from November through February so you're bound to find a festival close to your home for your road trip.
Calgary Winter Festival in Calgary, Alberta
Curing the February blahs - Originally conceived in February 1989 as relief to the year-long hangover Calgarians were suffering after hosting the 1988 Winter Olympic Games, this 11-day festival has grown into one of Calgary's favorite events. This celebration of everything snowy, frosty and cold, includes ice sculpture contests, human curling championships, music, clowns, winter crafts, snowboarding demonstrations and more. Most events are free and take place in various venues throughout the city. And in spite of the theme of the festival, many are held indoors or in heated tents. It is February, after all.
Winter Festival of Lights in Niagara Falls, Canada
Making Light of Family Fun - Touted as Canada's largest light festival, this annual event combines incredible landscape lighting with live concerts, parades, fireworks, and a spectacular New Year's Eve celebration shown live around the world all with the Falls as a backdrop. The festival kicks off with several weekend Disney shows, making this event a perfect family outing. As well, there's the Annual Niagara Talent Showcase, Candles in the Park, and a Tribute to Elvis. All events are free November through January.
Winter Festival & Parade of Lights in Grand Junction, Colorado
This annual December parade features floats, music, holiday fun and events, and thousands of sparkling holiday lights.
Ely Winter Festival in Ely, Minnesota
This annual festival is held in February and offers ten days of fun-filled activities, including snow sculpturing, dog sled rides, snowmobile rides, exhibits, the Mukluk Ball, a variety of great food, and a craft fair.
Christmas Light Show in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Visit this famous light show which began in 1955 and has since become one of Philadelphia's most cherished traditions. Originally created for Wanamaker's, it's continued to create the beautiful Grand Court displays that had helped make Wanamaker's famous. A tradition that's passed on from one generation to the next, visitors usually first come as children and look in awe at water fountains, 1000s of lights, animated figures while listening to a Christmas story with organ music throughout. The show runs continuously from the day after Thanksgiving through New Year's and starts on the even hours while the store is open. The best part...it's free!
Newport Winter Festival in Newport, Rhode Island
Ten-day festival - Named by the American Bus Association as one of the Top 100 Events in North America so you know this would be a great activity to add to your road trip planner. The Newport Winter Festival offers 10 days of fun, food, music and entertainment for the whole family. The festival features horse-drawn hayrides, sand sculptures, a chili and pizza cook-off, scavenger hunt, an ice sculpting competition, a children's fair and the Annual Frosty 5K Run. Musical entertainment includes swing, pop and blues bands, as well as the United States Air Force Band, Liberty. Activities are held at various venues throughout the city.
Winter Festival of Lights in Wheeling, West Virginia
Lasting from November to January, this event has grown into the nation's largest holiday light show and it attracts over a million visitors per year. This festival of lights covers more than 300 acres over a six mile drive throughout the resort and includes over 50 displays and over one million lights.
So go ahead, bundle up the baby, put ear-muffs on your little ones, pull your teenagers from their iPods and your partner from his/her laptop and with your Road Trip Planner in hand, prepare to light up the night with some winter festival fun.