Sometimes the best getaways aren’t about sunshine, but instead involve a mountain of snow, some hot cocoa and looking cute in a fur-trimmed coat – and they’re not only reserved for the masters of skis and snowboards. In fact, there are loads of ways you can enjoy a pretty winter wonderland without flinging yourself down a steep slope.
While we would still probably recommend you pack the hats and gloves, here are a few new options for exploring those chilly locations, without the risk of a wipe out.
It’s the lazy man’s option for exploring powdery peaks and that’s why it’s brilliant. Snowmobiling has you zipping across some amazing landscapes without so much as stretching a muscle, providing you don’t take a tumble.
In Iceland you can snowmobile all year round by picking up a tour from the Gulfoss waterfall, whereas places like Quebec offer it up as a regular mode of transport come the colder months.
It’s time to try a whole different kind of ski… a husky (sorry). Swap the pistes for a bit of puppy love and dogsled across the snow. It’s one of the most magical ways to see a new place and, as long as you can hold your balance and have a good grip, you’ll have no problem manoeuvring your way around the mountains.
You can actually learn what it takes to become a top musher (the technical term for those behind the pack) in Sweden’s Slussfors dog sledding school. They do week-long courses in husky management and ‘sle-ettiquette’ showing you how to become a master musher. If you’re looking to take it a little easier though, Vancouver claims to have one of the best dogsled tours around.
Peace, quiet and pretty frozen landscapes – if that sounds like something you’d enjoy then try Manitoba, Montana or Ammassalik, Greenland. These locations have ice fjords and frozen lakes perfect for dropping in the rod and waiting for a bite. Ice fishing may not be the most exciting sport, but if you get a catch it can mean a cheap dinner and you’ll certainly come away feeling chilled out.
It’s a skill that requires a steady hand and far more concentration than we could ever hope to muster. Chicago, Alaska and even London all have ice-sculpting classes to teach you how to carve out your favourite character and put together powdery masterpieces.
From there, if you’re good enough, you could head to Harbin in China. The town holds an event each year showcasing the world’s best ice and snow sculptures. If you’re a fan of the film Frozen and want to get your fix of magical, icy genius then you’re going to love it.
Show us your snow shoes
There’s no shoe like a snow shoe. They may not be Louboutins but there’s no shoe cooler. They help you make it from A to B in frosty landscapes and save you from frosty face-plants. The Alps, Pyrenees and Bavaria all run group tours with snow shoes, which means you don’t have to worry about being the only one rocking the look.
Hot air ballooning is amazing no matter what time of year you do it, but there’s something special about taking to the skies in wintertime. Sure, it can be extremely chilly, but nothing beats the views from hot-air ballooning over Italy’s Dolomites or Colorado’s Grand Lake.
Not just for eskimos, igloos are hot property for those willing to weather a night in true winter temperatures. Most Nordic destinations offer package deals for an overnight stay in one, but if you fancy yourself as a bit of an architect you can try making one yourself. Many locations in Lapland take you to a spot with a guide, teach you how to chisel your way to the ideal igloo then let you test out your new home for the night.
Swap the wellies for the onesies and head overseas for some of the best festivals in the calendar.
Think Glastonbury on ice and you’ve got Norway’s Ice Music Festival, or visit Japan for February’s Sapporo Snow Festival. France also embraces the frozen frenzy by transforming a little place called Avoriaz into a week-long winter playground. It’s all about the igloo raves and paintball fights before people cosy up in cabins to listen to the headlining acts.