Niseko, Japan

Niseko-Japancourtesy YTL Hotels

If you’re unaware of Japan as a skiing destination, you’re truly missing out. Niseko Village, nestled within the Niseko United ski area, has unfettered access to 2,191 acres of skiable terrain through interlinked resorts and is considered the powder mecca of the world, thanks to the 60 feet of snow that falls annually. In recent years, Niseko has become a “must ski” destination for North Americans: Along with its dry champagne powder created by lake-effect winds, Niseko offers true Japanese cultural immersion, including an onsen hot springs and some of the best sushi in the world. Beyond skiing and snowboarding, visitors can experience a host of other exhilarating winter activities, such as snowmobile adventures, snowshoeing, cat skiing, snow rafting, or reindeer sledding.

Quebec City, Canada

QuebecCourtesy Gagnon Francis

In the summer months, Quebec City is an excellent destination thanks to its French flair and historic old port. But in the winter, the city comes alive as the cold freezes ponds and paths into glittering skating rinks and trails, including the mile-long illuminated skating path in Pointe-aux-Lièvres Parc; the historic Chateau Frontenac becomes a fairy-tale palace encrusted with diamond-like snow; and a toboggan run is opened right along the historic old town’s ancient walls.  Don’t miss the Winter Carnival, the Carnaval de Québec, the largest winter carnival in the world. During 17 days the Carnival offers more than 200 activities and welcomes nearly 500,000 people (upcoming dates are January 26 to February 11, 2018, and February 1 to 17, 2019). Check out these cozy cabins for a last-minute getaway.

Rovaniemi, Finland

Finlandcourtesy Matti Koutonen

Welcome to the original Christmas Store! Well, it’s not really a store, but according to the residents of this Arctic Circle town in Finnish Lapland, this is the “terrestrial” home of Santa Claus. Explore the Santa Claus Village, where you can watch ice sculpting, visit Huskies, take a dog sled ride, share stories of meeting the jolly old elf, and even get a reindeer sleigh ride. Of course, there are plenty of Christmas-themed restaurants here, too. Since you’re nearly at the North Pole, you can catch the Northern Lights. Plan to book a stay at the local ice hotel, as well.