Winter Carnivals and Ice Festivals in Europe

Bruges Ice Wonderland Sculpture FestivalWinter has returned in full force to Europe, Canada and part of the Northern U.S. It's time for event planners to shift their attention to creating winter events that are upbeat, fun and interactive.Winter carnivals and festivals provide an exciting backdrop for corporate events.

Ice festivals are popular winter events in Europe and, during the pre-Lenten season, carnivals are held in European countries with a Catholic tradition. 

Here is a quick round-up of some of the winter carnivals and ice festivals that take place in Europe every year.


  • Snow and Ice Sculpture Festival (Bruges): Every year, from late November to early January, artists design and create a wonderland of ice and snow based on the theme that has been selected for that season.


Basel FasnachtThe most popular carnivals are held in Basel and Lucerne.

  • Fasnacht (Basel): In this colorful celebration that begins at 4 AM on the Monday following Ash Wednesday, the music of fifes fills the air as costumed and masked Cliquen (carnival cliques) carrying canvas and wood lanterns make their way through the streets of the Old Town in Basel. The celebration continues for 3 days.
  • Fritschi-Fasnacht (Lucerne): From the Thursday before Ash Wednesday until the end of Shrove Tuesday, carnival comes to Lucerne. An old gentleman named Fritschi, the Fritschenean, his wife and Fritschikind (Fritschi's child) ride in a wagon. Guggemuusige (masked bands) accompany them in a parade. The festivities are more informal than those in Basel. Cliquen mingle with the crowd and stop periodically to put on skits.

The Netherlands

  • Carnival in Holland: In February, Carnival is celebrated in the south of Holland, particularly in Limburg and Noord-Brabant which have a strong Catholic heritage. At the start of carnival, the major gives the keys to the city to the carnival prince for 3 days. Revelers wear crazy carnival costumes and spend 3 days in merrymaking.

Cologne KarnivalGermany

  • Karneval: Karneval, which is celebrated in northwest Germany, is most popular around Dusseldorf and Cologne. Parades, carnival kings and queens and parties with masked revelers, come to a climax during the 3 days preceding Lent.

United Kingdom

  • London Ice Sculpting Festival: In mid-January, artists from around the world participate in this annual competition and festival that takes place at Canary Wharf. Special events include ice chess, ice carving master classes and a laser show.


  • Carnival in Nice: One of the world's biggest carnivals, the Nice carnival has been celebrated since the Middle Ages. It runs from mid-February to early March. Musicians and dancers from around the globe join in the colorful parades with gigantic floats. The Royal Float bringing in is Majesty King Carnival dates back to 1882.

If you enjoyed this feature, also check out:

Photo Credits: wwarby, Noel Reynolds

For assistance in planning corporate events in Europe, consult the Cvent Supplier Network.

blog comments powered by Disqus
Subscribe to our Monthly Newsletter
Receive updates on the latest trends, best practices, and strategies
to transform your meetings and events