The nights are long, the weather’s distinctly British and consumers are no doubt recovering from the excesses of Christmas, but January doesn’t need to be all doom and gloom. Here are 10 exciting prize ideas for your clients and customers that are sure to beat away the January blues and start their year with a bang. All of these events and locations would work well for prize winners or as the basis for a group incentive trip.
|Harbin Ice Festival, ChinaMarvel at the world’s biggest ice sculptures at the Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival. Sculptors from around the world create breathtaking works of art using more than four million cubic feet of ice from the frozen surface of the Songhua River. Lights are used to give colour to the ice, making it particularly impressive at night. While in Harbin there are a variety of winter activities to be enjoyed, including skiing, dog-sledding and watching the brave winter swimmers take a dip in the icy waters.
|Ocaso Festival, Costa RicaIf you’d prefer to escape to warmer climes, you’d do well to consider Ocaso Festiva in Costa Rica. Held annually since 2017 in Guanacaste Province, this underground music festival has a distinctly eco-vibe. Each of the three main stages celebrates the beauty of Mother Earth, with awe-inspiring beach, mountain and jungle backdrops. Featuring acclaimed electronic acts with a focus on home-grown talent, the music is only half the story. Sustainable local development is a particular focus for this festival, with visitors encouraged to tread lightly and volunteer with the beach cleaning programme.
|Up Helly Aa, ScotlandOn the last Tuesday in January, the Shetland island of Lerwick plays host to one of the world’s more remote festivals. This annual fire festival begins with a torch-lit procession, led by costumed warriors, and the burning of a traditional Viking galley. Back following a pandemic hiatus, 2023 sees female participants welcomed for the first time as “guizers”. Each squad of guizers will entertain throughout the night with a skit, dance or music performance.
|Northern Lights, FinlandThe natural phenomena which are the Northern Lights are probably on most people’s bucket list. Iceland is an increasingly popular destination to try to spot the Aurora with the long, dark nights of January being an ideal time to see this multitude of colours dancing across the sky. A truly once in a lifetime experience – but be prepared to wrap up warm!
|Sneeuwbal Winter Festival, NetherlandsThe Sneeuwbal (Snowball) winter festival sees January out with a bang at Park Transwijk in Utrecht. Revellers embrace the cold and go all-out to wear the most eye-catching and colourful retro ski suits. Featuring a line-up of the best house and techno DJs, there’s plenty to keep you warm with ice-skating and snow-sliding activities away from the music tents. Oh, and there’s plenty of Gluhwein and hot chocolate to keep you toasty too!
|Ice Hotel, SwedenFor hardy types, the Ice Hotel promises the most unusual and memorable night of your life. Located in Swedish Lapland, the world’s largest igloo is an extraordinary and unforgettable experience for all who are lucky enough to experience it. Rebuilt every year from more than 1,500 tonnes of snow and ice and covering 5,500 square metres, it serves as a hotel, gallery, restaurant, exhibition hall and church.
|International Snow Sculpture Championships, USACompetitive snow sculpture, USA-style, is held at the world-renowned International Snow Sculpture Championships at Breckenridge, Colorado. It’s an incredible display of creativity. Teams from countries such as Lithuania, Great Britain and Italy battle it out over 5 days to carve gigantic frozen works of art. The amazingly intricate sculptures must be entirely hand-carved. The completed works are open to the public in a week-long viewing extravaganza when voting opens for the prestigious “People’s Choice” award.
|La Tamborrada, SpainAfter a two-year break, 2023 sees the return of La Tamborrada. The Spanish town of San Sebastián celebrates its patron saint with a 24-hour drum festival running from midnight to midnight. Over 100 drum companies, each with 20 to 50 drummers dressed as soldiers and cooks, are joined by brass bands to create a cacophany of noise. Make sure you take your ear plugs!
|Feria de Boquete, PanamaJanuary in the UK is dark, dreary and sees most of us lacking in energy. For the perfect antidote travel to the Feria de Boquete in Panama which sees this quaint mountain town decorated with colourful flowers. Streets are filled with the aroma of coffee and stalls sell food and work by local artists. After dark, the energy cranks up, with festival-goers dancing the night away to live Latin music.
|Sundance Film Festival, USAOne of the largest independent film festivals in the world, Sundance showcases storytellers. The name comes from the classic movie “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid”, whose star Robert Redford was instrumental in getting the festival off the ground. Open to all, this annual celebration of film sees thousands of industry professionals and film enthusiasts descend on Park City, Utah for a 10-day run. Reputations are built at Sundance, with both emerging and established filmmakers screening their work and competing for prestigious awards such as the ‘Grand Jury Prize’ and the coveted ‘Audience Award’.