In our monthly travel guide for February, we take a look at what’s happening around the world, where’s best to visit during the most loved-up month of the year, and where to book now before the crowds descend!
Carnival, Venice (4-21 Feb)
One of the world’s most elaborately costumed events, the Venice carnival, began in the 12th century when the republic defeated the Patriarch of Aquileia – the debauchery spanned around two months. The annual celebration was halted in 1797 when the lavish masks were used to hide the sins of the city: namely the identities of prostitutes and gamblers. Fortunately, it was revived in 1979 and now attracts hundred of revellers each year. You can expect decadent masked balls, best mask contests, street shows and the flight of the angel — one of the most anticipated displays during which a woman wearing wings is hoisted from the bell tower of St Mark’s Basilica down into the crowd in the main square.
Sapporo Snow Festival (4-11 Feb)
Hokkaido is the northernmost of Japan’s main islands and its volcanic landscape boasts both hot springs and ski resorts. Its capital, Sapporo, hosts an annual snow sculpture festival each February. The structures take inspiration from popular culture and architecture (many are the size of buildings), and some can even be slid down. A day and night visit ticket costs around £8, which is worth it to see the sculptures lit up and softly glowing against the inky sky. After you’ve marvelled at the creations, you can warm up with some of the city’s renowned ramen and an ice-cold local Asahi beer. The island is also well-known for its delectable soft serve ice cream, so be sure to try some – if you can brave it!
Menton Lemon Festival, France (17 February – 3 March)
Menton might just be the Côte d’Azur’s best kept secret. This charming town is packed with pastel-hued buildings, tranquil beaches and lush gardens. One of its proudest exports is lemons, and the fruit is celebrated each February with a vibrant and aromatic festival. For around two weeks, parades take place day and night, gigantic fruit sculptures are exhibited in the Biovès Gardens, and other events including craft fairs take place.
Montréal en Lumière (16 Feb – 5 March)
Montréal en Lumière might translate to Montréal in lights, however there’s so much more that happens in the Canadian city during this two-week winter festival. Gastronomy makes up a large portion of the programme, with dinners hosted by local and international chefs and the Quartier Gourmand installation, which offers free activities, including tastings, demonstrations and workshops. Elsewhere, there is a giant ice rink, theatre shows and musical performances. On the last Saturday of the festival, which is called Nuit Blanche, there are free events all through the night until dawn.
Rio Carnival (9-17 February)
Arguably the world’s biggest festival takes place this month in Brazil, celebrating the run-up to lent with non-stop street parties. Rio even has a purpose-built structure called the Sambadrome, where the parades by samba schools take place. Ticket prices vary from $35-200, depending on whereabouts in the stadium you are sitting. If you’re on a budget though, you can soak up enough of the carnival atmosphere among the revellers on the streets, or if you’re feeling flush, you can purchase a ticket to one of the extravagant – and exclusive – balls that take place in the city.
Where’s Hot: Sri Lanka
February is an excellent time to visit to Sri Lanka, as the monsoon season has ended and the temperature settles around the late twenties. Ecotourism is also booming in Sri Lanka: there are opportunities to visit local farms, learn about local customs and even give them a go yourself, plus camping facilities and mangrove replanting programmes. You’re also in a better position to spot wildlife at this time, because the weather is dryer, so be sure to squeeze in a safari if you can!
Where to Book: Copenhagen
Paris may be considered the city d’amour, however we think bright, beautiful and eco-conscious Copenhagen may be a worthy contender for a weekend of romance, especially as it sparkles in the winter sun. Hold onto your loved one on the rides in Tivoli Gardens, wrap up for a bike ride to the Little Mermaid, then warm up with some steaming hot chocolate – or something stronger! In February, the city looks even more magical as it is lit up for Copenhagen Light Festival; the neat, historic architecture and canals twinkle as the sun goes down.