It’s the best time of the year; it’s the time when the cold, blowing wind can make your face numb and the snow-clad trees look right out of a picture book. If you love snow capped mountain peaks and scenic landscapes, here’s a list of the world’s top five ‘snowiest’ cities.
1. Sapporo, Japan: People visit Sapporo in Japan for two things – for Japanese beer and the annual snow festival, The Yuki Matsuri is held every year in February for seven days. Blessed or cursed with bountiful snow, Sapporo in Japan attracts around two million tourists annually. They come to see the hundreds of beautiful snow statues and ice sculptures which line Odori Park, grounds at Tsudome, and main street in Susukino. The snow festival began in 1950 after World War II and local high school students built six snow statues in Odori Park. In 1955, the Self-Defence Force joined in and built the very first massive snow sculpture, for which the Snow Festival has become famous today. These statues and sculptures (large and small) turn Sapporo into a winter dreamland of crystal-like ice and white snow. This festival has become one of the biggest and most well known of Hokkaido's winter events.
2. Syracuse, New York: New York by itself is a very snowy city but Syracuse, New York (itself one of six cities called Syracuse) is known throughout America for its snowfall and has won the most recent Golden Snowball award, given for highest snowfall among cities in New York state. The proximity of Lake Ontario and the fact that the city has a humid continental climate helps it rise above its peers. The national average in Syracuse is 252 centimetres per year but the record is 487 centimetres. The highest snowfall happened in the year 1992-93, when 192.1 inches fell. Since 1951, the city’s snowfall totals have averaged nearly 10 feet a year. Schools and airports are least affected and they remain open through the snow season too.
3. Quebec, Canada: Quebec is a city with warm and pleasant summers but at the same time, winters can be long and gruelling. Residents brace themselves for an annual average of 316 centimetres of snow per year falling over 107 days. The Quebec Winter Carnaval is held every year from February 1 to 17. The festival's events include a winter amusement park, with attractions such as skiing, snow rafting, ice sculptures, snow sled slides and outdoor shows. The Winter Carnival is a 100-year old tradition in Quebec City. Each year, a giant ice palace is built in the Place Jacques-Cartier as headquarters of festivities. Québec City offers outstanding snow conditions for your favourite winter sports!
4. Valdez, Alaska: Valdez, a seaport city in Alaska, is one of the best destinations for winter adventures. The city is surrounded by Chugach Mountains which create a heavily glaciated climate and hence the snow starts from November and goes on till April. With a longstanding reputation for great snow, more than 300 inches is measured annually in the city and 600 to 900 inches in nearby Thompson Pass. Such weather conditions make Valdez a perfect destination for ski aficionados who can partake in both downhill and cross country skiing. And if skiing isn’t your thing than maybe you can try out snowboarding, snowmobiling, dog sledding or even ice climbing. The area’s waterfalls and scenic glaciers are a treat for nature lovers. To round it all off, there is also the Frosty Fever Festival held every winter in Valdez. It is a family-friendly event held in late February or early March.
5. Moscow, Russia: Moscow experiences extreme climatic conditions. It has extremely hot summers and long cold winters. Snow can be expected from the beginning of November through to the end of March. Travelling to Moscow during winter is a unique experience. Russians are experts at making the cold season fun and festive. The Moscow Russian Winter Festival takes place in Izmailovo Park during the last week of December and first week of January. Visitors can enjoy joy rides and listen to folk music performances with players and singers dressed in native Russian garb. It doesn’t end here. There are many winter festival activities all around Moscow, like ice sculpting in various parks and snowman-building on Arbat Street. An ice skating rink is set up in Red Square where hockey matches are played and everybody can go ice skating at night.
Shruti Menon, a freelance feature writer based in Delhi, is fond of travelling. She loves meeting new people and during her leisure time, surfs internet on destinations, untouched by tourists