FX Excursions

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Winter Festivals with the Family

by Angelique Platas

Dec 22, 2017

© Polina Bublik | Dreamstime

Adult Children

Enjoy some family bonding and seasonal fun at these top winter festivals.


Battle of the Oranges in Ivrea, Italy: January 2018

Suit up to watch the fight to the citrusy end at the Battle of the Oranges in Ivrea, Italy. Legend has it the oppressed townspeople of Ivrea rose up sometime between the 12th and 13th centuries and fought back against the tyrannical ruler. The historical reenactment and celebration of freedom begins each year on the Sunday before Ash Wednesday.

Battle of Orange, Italy

Battle of Orange, Italy. Photo: Federicafranchi | Dreamstime


This Mardi Gras celebration consists of nine teams waging war using only oranges. The nearly 4,000 local competitors fight to win, but mostly for the fun of the tradition. The event is free for the more than 100,000 spectators enjoying the massive food fight. Participants and festivalgoers keep an eye on the symbolic scarlo, a pole with juniper and heather bushes. If the scarlo burns fast and bright, the future looks good while a slow burn is a bad omen for the coming year. Just make sure the kids don’t want to start the tradition back at home.


Up Helly Aa in Shetland, Scotland: Jan. 30, 2018

The Shetland Islands of Scotland are a sleepy quiet place, until the last Tuesday in January every year. Engage in a fiery blaze of spectacle and tradition in Lerwick, Shetland, on Jan. 30, 2018, during the Up Helly Aa festival. This epic tradition enlists the help of thousands of people working yearlong in preparation for the one-day and -night event.

Beginning at the stroke of 7:30 p.m., rockets signal over Town Hall and torches are lit, signaling the band to begin. The band begins playing and marching in a half-mile procession in a fury. Participants reenact stories of Viking Islander lore with visual storytelling, epic bonfires and libations for adults.

up helly aa viking festival Scotland

Photo: Zdenka Mlynarikova
| Dreamstime

Themes vary each year, but the main focus is always on the main event, which includes a procession of 800 brawny Vikings dragging the Jarls to the burning site, through a crowd of about 5,000 spectators. Give the kids a taste of the local history and culture while enjoying a raucous night out with the family.


Northern Lights Festival in Norway: January 26 – February 4, 2018

Head to Tromsø, Norway, for a music festival and natural wonder unlike any other. The Northern Lights Festival, or Nordlysfestivalen, presents tops musicians across genres from opera and jazz to classical and modern styling.


Enjoy live performances among an array of outdoor events and exhibitions. Sit in on lectures from musicians and artists and head outdoors for incredible events, including the Northern Lights cruise, while enjoying a brew from various pubs scattered over the festival. Take in the festive sounds, sights and family fun over the winter celebration.


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