Every year, about two million visitors - more than 90 per cent of them Japanese - descend on Hokkaido for the Sapporo Snow Festival.

Highlights of the winter wonderland include snow slides and snow- rafting activities, traditional craft markets, food festivals and hundreds of huge yet intricately detailed snow and ice sculptures.

Snow- and ice-sculpting professionals from around the world go to Sapporo to take part in the International Snow Sculpture Contest, where about 250 illuminated frozen masterpieces of palaces, anime and animals line 1.5km of Odori Park, through the heart of downtown Sapporo.

When: Feb 5 to 11



Oruro Carnival, Bolivia's largest and oldest festival, takes place in the days leading up to the Christian observance of Lent every year.

About 400,000 people attend the festival in Oruro, a mining city of 200,000 people about 3,700m above sea level, to partake in La Diablada, also known as the Dance Of The Devils. The extraordinary 4km-long parade, which depicts a clash of good versus evil, takes place on the Saturday before Ash Wednesday and features so many people that it often lasts up to 20 hours.

Originally an Incan holiday, it morphed into a Catholic holiday with the advent of the Spanish conquistadors and colonisation in the 16th century. However, the festival still retains some of its pre-Hispanic heritage.

About 20,000 dancers and 10,000 musicians perform in the streets dressed as brightly clothed devils, Incan gods and daemons, Andean animals and early Spanish conquistadores.

To celebrate the triumph of good over evil, mass is held at dawn the next day at the foot of the Virgin of Salvation and the 10-day festival ends with The Day Of Water, a city-wide water fight.

When: Feb 5 to 15



In the three days before Lent, the small town of Binche, Belgium, near the border of France, comes alive with parades, games and musical performances.

The highlight of the parades takes place on Shrove Tuesday (Feb 9) when more than 1,000 local men, known as Gilles, parade through the city in embroidered jester-like costumes, with ostrich feather headdresses or white caps and green-eyed masks covering their faces.

Wielding sticks, they ward off evil and throw oranges into the crowd as a symbol of good luck for the coming summer.

When: Feb 7 to 9



House visits of family and friends, exchanging gifts, drinking local rice wine called changkol and lots of burning of incense are hallmarks of Losar, the Tibetan New Year.

It is an important holiday for Buddhists when festivities include the Dalai Lama giving a speech at the Boudhanath Stupa and leading high monks in prayers and rituals.

These are followed by songs and dances performed by monks, nuns, locals and pilgrims, all dressed in their finest colourful clothing.

When: Feb 8


Napier in New Zealand celebrates its 1930s architecture at the Tremains Art Deco Festival every February. PHOTO: ART DECO TRUST


In February 1931, a shallow, 7.8- magnitude earthquake shook the city for two minutes and brought its buildings to the ground.

Despite being in the midst of the Great Depression, it took just two years for the citizens of Napier to completely rebuild the city.

Today, it features some of the most representative examples of 1930s city planning and architecture in the world.

The most iconic design styles of the time, such as Art Deco, Spanish Mission and Stripped Classical, can be found here.

To celebrate its history, the city holds the Tremains Art Deco Festival every February.

More than 40,000 people come to relive the Jazz-era life and feel of the city and tickets for many of the 125 events, including architecture tours, outdoor concerts, vintage car parades, Great Gatsby-themed picnics and Depression Dinners, sell out well in advance.

When: Feb 17 to 21


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on January 31, 2016, with the headline '(No headline) - LVAGENDA31'. Print Edition | Subscribe