There’s still time to embrace the most beautiful of all the seasons. Picture yourself in a crisp, winter wonderland and spend your days adventuring on skis, skidoo or sledge. As the sun sets, wrap up and seek out the enigmatic Northern lights, or spend cosy evenings lingering over glowing fire embers with a drink in hand. With so many ways to revel in winter, there’s sure to be a perfect choice for your snow-themed incentive travel trip or prize promotion.
Top 10 snow and ice incentive travel destinations
|Snow Igloos & Northern Lights, Finland
|As winter takes hold, the famous Kakslauttanen Arctic Village comes alive. Snow igloos are carved anew in December each year, allowing intrepid souls to spend a night sleeping under ice, in the traditional Inuit way. For added creature comforts, the permanent glass igloos provide an uninterrupted view of the night sky, and the opportunity to witness the spectacular Northern Lights phenomenon through to the end of April. Immerse yourself in the stunning landscapes with a reindeer or husky-powered sledge or take a cruise on a majestic icebreaking vessel for a never-to-be-forgotten nautical experience.
|Snow Monkeys, Japan
|Less than 90 minutes on the Shinkansen bullet train from Tokyo you reach a different world. The quaint cobblestone lanes of Shibu Onsen lie lined in snowy splendour during the winter months, while traditional wooden ryokan (inns) provide an atmospheric base for peaceful overnight slumbers. A short distance out of town, the Jigokudani Yaen-Koen Park is home to the iconic snow monkeys who bask in the volcanic warmth of the springs. The hot springs, or onsen, are a Japanese institution, and humans may enjoy this custom by visiting one of the bathhouses in Shibu Onsen. Each one purportedly has different health benefits, while visiting all nine is said to bring good fortune and perpetual youth.
|Northern Lights & Blue Lagoon, Iceland
|No list of wintry holidays would be complete without Iceland as a destination; the clue’s in the name! The capital Reykjavik is cool and compact, friendly and fun. With an abundance of fine dining restaurants, trendy hotels and nightlife to suit all tastes, it makes the perfect base for excursions. Take a quintessential day trip to the Blue Lagoon to rejuvenate in the geothermal seawater, apply a silica mud mask and savour a drink at the in-water bar. As darkness falls, Iceland is one of the very best places in the world to seek out the awe-inspiring Northern Lights. The mesmerising sight of the aurora dancing across the night sky will forever live in the memory of those lucky enough to experience it.
|Ice Hotel, Sweden
|Though it has garnered many likenesses across the world, the Icehotel in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden is the original and the largest constructed from snow and ice. The ethereal beauty of the hotel is reborn each winter with selected artists invited to theme and handcraft the suites in a unique design each year. Guests are welcomed from December through until April when the entire hotel melts away into the bubbling springtime waters of the Torne River. Activities include creative ice sculpting classes alongside outdoor winter pursuits such as skiing and snowmobiling. There’s also a traditional sauna ritual featuring an (optional!) roll in the snow and an ice hole plunge. If you like the sound the Jukkasjärvi Icehotel, you might like to look at our Top 10 of the coolest Ice hotels.
|Ski Banff National Park, Canada
|Beautiful Banff is a winter sports lover’s paradise. Located in the heart of a UNESCO World Heritage site, the impressive peak of Cascade Mountain is a dramatic backdrop to this charming town. Downhill skiing is the main draw, with a season that runs into May and some of the fluffiest powder around. Everyone from beginners to seasoned pros can enjoy the vast combined terrain of the nearby Big 3 resorts – Mount Norquay, Sunshine Village and Lake Louise. Cross-country skiers are equally well catered, with miles of breathtaking scenery to explore. There’s plenty to do off the slopes too with excellent dining, hot springs and a gondola ride up to a stunning viewpoint at the pinnacle of Sulphur Mountain. If you’re inspired to don your skis, check out our Top 10 Ski Resorts
|Chalet Retreat, Zermatt, Switzerland
|Lying at the base of the iconic Matterhorn, car-free Zermatt is a wonderful winter destination for both avid skiers and those who prefer to appreciate the mountain peaks from the comfort of a luxurious chalet. Zermatt has well-appointed chalets in spades, with many featuring Jacuzzis, home cinemas and personal chefs as standard. Two highlights are the contemporary Backstage Chalet and the elegant Christiania Penthouse. Outdoors, the stunning scenery is best appreciated on a trip up the highest cable car in Europe or on the breathtaking train ride to Gornergrat. When the fresh mountain air works up an appetite, the resort has a reputation for gastronomic excellence, with Michelin starred The Omnia and the on-the-mountain Findlerhof leading the pack.
|Lapland Adventure, Finland
|Lapland is synonymous with Santa, but this destination has a huge amount to offer even after the Christmas lights are packed away. Each resort has a different flavour, from the pine-forest prettiness of Ruka to the cosmopolitan bustle of Rovaniemi, the one thing they all have in common is a perfect winter wonderland setting. Levi is renowned for crisp, clean air, making it an ideal location to gaze skywards for the Northern Lights. Amidst 7 months of snow each year, winter sports abound, with 28 ski lifts, 230km of cross country trails and snowshoeing, reindeer trekking and snowmobiling. For dining with a difference take a pew at the Snow Restaurant, where even the chairs and tables are completely carved from ice. After dark, the après ski scene comes to life; there’s a vibrant live music scene and dancing on the tables by the end of the night is virtually guaranteed!
|Country House Luxury, The Scottish Highlands
|Snow might be somewhat unpredictable in Scotland, but a cosy winter retreat in the Highlands always appeals. Explore heather-clad hillsides, breathe in the scent of Scots pines and soak up vistas of mysterious lochs. Embrace classic country pursuits such as shooting and fishing. Relax in front of a crackling log fire with a wee dram of single malt whisky in hand and watch red deer roam outside. For the finest in Scottish hospitality choose the grand Inverlochy Castle Hotel, the tranquil Kilcamb Lodge or the remote Forss House. There’s a winter break to suit all tastes.
|Snowbombing Festival, Mayrhofen, Austria
|Held in April each year in the picturesque village of Mayrhofen, Snowbombing is a festival with a difference. This musical spectacular features big-name bands and DJs set against the glorious natural backdrop of the Austrian Alps. Dance on the snow at one of the mountain stages or party the night away in a forest clearing. Rave at a themed fancy dress street party or shake your thing at the igloo disco. If that’s not enough, you can participate in mountain-top yoga, chair lift speed dating or prove your tug-of-war prowess in the Snowlympics. Oh, and there’s also skiing.
|Sail the Fjords, Norway
|The Norwegian Fjords are steeped in magic. Surrounded by towering peaks and with wild, untamed beauty, the light this far north has a special quality. Located within the Arctic Circle, vibrant Tromso is a gateway city worth exploring. Take the cable car for a sweeping vista from atop Mount Storsteinen and dine on the freshest fish within the industrial-chic interior of Mathallen restaurant. Board a vessel to sail through magnificent fjordland and onto the breathtaking Lofoten Islands, where sea eagles swoop and glide. Enjoy a host of traditional winter sports or, for something a little unexpected, take a surf lesson in the Arctic Ocean beneath snowy mountains-available 365 days a year!