The winter blues can hit hard, and a well-planned escape might be in order. If you’re looking to inject a little bit of magic into the season, these six unforgettable experiences will help you weather any seasonal storms. From a colorful Northern Lights display to a celebration of the poet Rumi, these out-of-this-world exotic experiences will revive your spirit.
1. The Northern Lights at Kakslauttanen, Finland
The swipes of neon that paint the winter sky are as unpredictable as they are mesmerizing. Your best chance at seeing the Northern Lights is to head above the Arctic Circle and as far away from civilization as possible. The Hotel & Igloo Village Kakslauttanen in the northern half of Finland’s Lapland is both remote and easily accessible. A vacation 150 miles above the Arctic Circle might not sound like something you’d ever do on purpose, but Kakslauttanen’s log cabins with stone fireplaces, traditional smoke saunas and a warming beverage at the glass bar make the freezing temperatures much more palatable. If you’re not inclined to go hunting for the Aurora Borealis outside, the bedrooms of the property’s new Kelo-Glass igloos have glass roofs for the most memorable night you’ll ever have in flannel pajamas. (Photo via Alux)
2. Ice Music Festival, Norway
Once a year, the serene mountain area of Geilo comes alive with the sound of some unusual music — all of the instruments at this outdoor festival are painstakingly carved out of ice. Expect to hear the ethereal sounds of a frozen violin, percussions and bass, some crisp vocals and even an ice harp. Not to miss is the ice tuba, which looks like something out of Dr. Seuss but makes the same rich sound as its brass counterpart. Since instruments are made anew every year, the sounds they produce vary from one winter to the next, and since air temperature also plays a role in how an instrument sounds, every performance is a genuinely unique experience. This winter’s Ice Festival takes place from January 21 through January 24. (Photo via Ice Music Festival)
3. Mevlâna Festival, Turkey
Lovers of poetry all over the world know about Rumi, or Mevlâna as he is known in Turkey. The 13th-century Sufi poet and scholar spent most of his life in Konya, a then-stunning city of ornate architecture and perfumed roses. His message of love was all encompassing and ecstatic, which explains his popularity across faiths and cultures and the entrancing dance Rumi’s followers (called dervishes) practice to commune with the divine. Every year in the two weeks leading up to the anniversary of the poet’s death on December 17, a million people come to Konya to pay tribute to the mystic and watch the dervishes spin. (Photo via Kusadasi)
4. Harbin Ice Festival, China
Every January the city of Harbin is transformed into a spectacle worthy of the Snow Queen. Thousands of ice and snow sculptures are installed around the city, including a towering mini metropolis whose crystal clear facades are lit up with a kaleidoscope of colors. Inspired by the simple ice lanterns used by fishermen, the Ice Lantern Garden Party is the festival’s oldest tradition and one of the main attractions, with more than 1,000 glowing, artful lanterns leading the way. This year you can catch the show starting January 5 through February. (Photo via Taringa)
5. Dîner en Blanc, Worldwide
Arguably the biggest and most exclusive dinner party in the world, Diner en Blanc is part picnic, part royal reception. Thousands of guests dressed in head to toe white arrive at a secret location where they are then ushered by their table leader to the exact spot where they should set up their table and chairs — white tablecloths only, of course. Once everyone is seated, a wave of white napkins signals the start of a sumptuous meal — or not, since the contents of you picnic basket are entirely up to you. Most people try to make the experience as memorable as possible, with gorgeous white china, lights and even centerpieces. Dinner is followed by sparklers and dancing into the night. This winter Diner en Blanc will take place across Asia, Australia and Africa, including in Hong Kong, Ho Chi Minh, Nairobi and Cape Town. (Photo via Miami)
6. Bikaner Camel Festival, India
Surrounded by the Thar Desert, the city of Bikaner is the camel epicenter of India. It is home to the National Camel Research Center, where visitors can see a Double Humped camel at the breeding farm and try camel milk ice cream. The main draw of the city is the annual two-day tribute to the animal. The Camel Festival begins with a procession of camels dressed up to the nines, parading past the sandstone and marble walls of the Junagarh Fort. There’s also camel decorating and fur cutting competitions, fire dancing and camel racing. Get up close and personal with the camels of Bikaner January 22-24. (Photo via Rajasthan Tourism)
Which of these trips would you take this winter? Tell us in the comments below.
(Featured photo via Voyage Nation)