6 Dolomites Winter Events Not to Miss

There is truly nothing quite like the Dolomites in winter and these events bring out the best of this magnificent region. If you’re considering a visit over the coming months, be sure to put these events on your travel to-do list. You won’t want to miss them! 

International Snow Festival
This annual event is held each year in January and attracts sightseers from all over the world. Visitors can enjoy a spectacular winter art competition that features hand carved sculptures made exclusively of ice, water and snow. Competitors participate in teams of 3, and are given just 3 days to create their masterpieces, which are then voted on by local residents and guests of the surrounding resorts. In 2016, the Snow Festival is scheduled to take place January 13-15 in Innichen / San Candido, and January 18-20 in San Vigilio.

Christmas Markets
There is absolutely no better place to celebrate the holiday spirit than in the winter wonderland of the Dolomites. During this time, the landscape is transformed with holiday décor and twinkling lights that make the atmosphere absolutely dazzle. From mid-November through the beginning of January, the tiny mountain villages of Bolzano, Merano, Bressanone, Brunico, and Vipiteno all play host to unique markets that feature everything from traditional cuisine to amazing handcrafted treasures. Experience the sights, sounds, tastes, smells and feelings of the holiday season as you tour these incredible events.

A Taste for Skiing Alta Badia
Each winter, Alta Badia plays host to the annual “A Taste for Skiing” – a tasty initiative on the slopes of Alta Badia. This event was created as a partnership between the DoloMitici, Michelin star rated chefs of the Dolomites, and rifugi, mountain inns. A selection of appetizer-sized bites are created by international chefs selected each year for the event. For the duration of the ski season, a different bite is available at 10-15 participating rifugi located within the Alta Badia ski resort. This is surely a culinary ski adventure at its best!

The 2015/2016 edition of A Taste for Skiing is dedicated to the South, with the tastes and traditions of the South Tyrol and of southern Italy as the guiding theme. Southern Italian and South Tyrolean gourmet chefs will create bites derived from traditional cuisine of their respective regions, presenting original dishes steeped in the long tradition of Italian cuisine. To add additional interest, the dishes created by the southern Italian chefs will be paired with a South Tyrolean wine, while the South Tyrolean recipes will be paired with a wine from the southern tip of the peninsula, creating special pairings selected by expert sommeliers.

Horse-Drawn Sleigh Competitions
The horse-drawn sleigh races and horse parade have long been traditional events of the winter season in Alta Badia, with ancient origins that date back centuries. The Ladin people who have called the Dolomites home for generations take great pride in these competitions, which involve everything from world-class breeds of horses and magnificent hand-carved and intricately decorated sleighs. Over the last few years these traditional horse races with sleighs and skijöring have been brought back and can be enjoyed by spectators from around the globe. The races are then followed by a spectacular horse sleigh parade. It’s a truly unforgettable experience.

The Saint Leonhard Horse Parade, the "Leonardiritt"
This incredible horse parade features participants from five different Ladin valleys, and involves all the pomp and circumstance one can envision, including traditional costumes. There’s music, mouthwatering local delicacies and even a farmer’s market to peruse while experiencing some of the age-old traditions that have been carried out in this area of the world for centuries. The event’s namesake, Saint Leonhard, is the patron saint of the farmers, the artisans and particularly of the horses and the horsemen. The horse parade takes place in Alta Badia each year in early November.

Winter Polo in Cortina d'Ampezzo
Each year the elite participants of this prestigious event compete with one another to achieve the best record for speed, action and fair play. The game of winter polo is widely considered to be technically advanced and as such, attracts a very high caliber of both players and spectators from across the world. Participants compete on horseback on a playing field that’s blanketed by a layer of pristine white snow. The Dolomites village of Cortina d’Ampezzo provides the perfect location for this unique and unforgettable winter game, combining challenging play with picturesque backgrounds and breathtaking mountain views. In 2016, the winter polo competition will take place February 16-21.