Posts tagged: Austin

Winter Festivals To Check Out Across America

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By , December 18, 2014 11:18 am

Most of us think of summertime as festival season in America, but lots of cities host amazing events throughout the winter months and all year long. The upcoming holiday season will be over before we know it, so why not start planning something else exciting to look forward to in the new year?

Instead of letting the winter blues drag you down, embrace the spirit of the season and experience a new festival to kick off 2015. These are some of the best winter festivals to check out across America.

Winter Festivals in Austin, Texas

All throughout the year, Austin maintains its reputation as one of the most amazing festival cities in America. There’s still time to catch the Trail of Lights, a December festival, which invites locals and visitors to take a 1.25-mile walk to see holiday lights while sampling local cuisine and listening to music. February is also a great time to visit Austin to check out the winter festival scene. Carnaval Brasileiro is one of the biggest one-night carnival celebrations outside of Brazil, and the Rancho Alegre Conjunto Festival is a family-friendly event that features down-home Texas-style music. Another February festival is Jugglefest, which celebrates all things circus in an indoor space. To learn about more exciting festivals in Austin, check out Homecity’s The Definitive Austin Festival Guide.”

Photo credit: Teresa Boardman via Flickr

Photo credit: Teresa Boardman via Flickr

Winter Festivals in St. Paul, Minnesota

Who in his right mind would travel to Minnesota in the winter? Hardcore festival lovers…that’s who! The St. Paul Winter Carnival runs from late January to early February and attracts around 350,000 visitors each year. This the largest and most established cold weather festivals in America, with dog sled racing, ice sculpture carving, floats, and even a scavenger hunt.

Winter Festivals in Saranac Lake, New York

Nestled in the Adirondack Mountains in New York, the Saranac Lake Winter Festival is less than an hour from the Canadian border. The lake provides a beautiful backdrop for a variety of winter sport contests, including alpine skiing, curling, broomball, snowshoeing, and even snow volleyball. This festival has a new theme every year and features a festive parade and fireworks for the whole family.

Winter Festivals in Breckenridge, Colorado

Head west to experience the International Snow Sculpture Championships, which takes place in mid-to-late January each year. Breckenridge is best known for its top-notch ski and snowboard resort, but there is lots to see and do in the quaint downtown area as well. Ice sculptors travel here from all over the world to show off their skills, inviting locals and visitors stroll through the park to marvel at their masterpieces. Ullr Fest, a Viking-inspired week of competition, takes place in Breckenridge from January 11-17 this year as well.

Photo credit: Alyssa L. Ochs

Photo credit: Alyssa L. Ochs

Winter Festivals in Anchorage, Alaska

Winter celebrations are a way of life in the northern wilderness of Alaska, and one of the best times to visit is in late February and early March. Fur Rendezvous is an exciting dog sledding event in Anchorage that also lets visitors play snowshoe softball and view snow sculptures. Stay a little bit longer to experience the epic Iditarod dog sledding race.

For more inspirational ideas to get out and active this winter, browse through FunSherpa’s experiences by city or theme!

Get Spooked at America’s Scariest Haunted Houses

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By , October 16, 2013 1:47 pm

With Halloween just days away, one of the best ways to get into the holiday spirit is by visiting a haunted house. As you’ve probably noticed over the years, not all haunted houses are created equal. Some haunted houses are quaint low-budget attractions put on by local youth groups, while others employ professional actors who specialize in creating nightmares that haunt us for weeks to come.

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Let’s explore the latter of these these two entertainment experiences, as we learn a little more about America’s scariest haunted houses.

Netherworld – near Atlanta, Georgia

Since 1997, Netherworld has thrilled and terrified visitors inside a cutting-edge, multi-attraction venue. Netherworld’s movie-quality special effects and unique themes have earned the haunted house national attention from CNN and the Wall Street Journal. This year’s themes include “The Dead Ones”, featuring twisted skeletal aberrations, and “Boogeyman,” featuring the legendary creature from childhood story tales.

House of Torment – Austin, Texas

House of Torment is Austin’s multi-level 20,000 square foot haunted house, and it’s been named “one of America’s scariest attractions” by The Travel Channel. The haunted house is located at the Highland Mall and is well-known for its horrifying scenarios and towering animatronic monsters. This year’s themes revolve around the “Blackthorne District,” an abandoned insane asylum, and “Ancients Emerge,” a realm of nightmarish tombs. A third theme, “Slaughterhouse: The Harvest,” was added to expose visitors to the aftermath of contagious serum weapon testing.

Haunted Hotel – San Diego, California 

San Diego’s Haunted Hotel is part haunted house and part theatrical experience. Located downtown in the Gaslamp District, this is the longest running haunted attraction in San Diego and has been featured on The Travel Channel. Once you step into the hotel, you’ll be faced with a “Walking Dead” dungeon, a posse of killer clowns on a subway car, and become trapped in a horrifying cellar. The special effects in this haunted house are so real that you’ll be startled by the tiniest sounds for days.

Gates of Hell – Las Vegas, Nevada

The Gates of Hell prides itself on being the only R-rated haunted house in the state of Nevada. If you’d like to be the subject of a sadistic experiment in sensory overload, then this is the haunted house for you. Ranked #1 in the Western U.S., Gates of Hell wants to get your heart pounding, make you claustrophobic, and make you face the reality of your own violent death in the underworld.

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Haunted houses have been popular for decades, but as you can see, the business of horror is still thriving. Regardless of which part of the country you’re celebrating Halloween in this year, chances are, there’s a haunted house nearby. In case you’ve forgotten since last year, we’ll leave you with a few tips for going through a haunted house and safely making it through to the other side.

Haunted House Tips 

  • Don’t bother acting tough – the whole point is to be scared
  • Listen to the rules and follow them – there’s no fun in getting kicked out
  • Don’t try to scare the actors back – that’s their job
  • Don’t touch the props – set designers put a lot of hard work into these
  • Only go through once – the elements of surprise diminish when you know what’s coming
  • Don’t take photos or videos – this makes the experience less authentic for everyone

*Photo credit: felixorwari via DeviantART; Shane Gorski via Flickr 

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