Each year, in and around the city of Murmansk, the International Festival of the North takes place. This event is held more than 100 miles north of the Arctic Circle to ensure there’s plenty of snow to accommodate. It takes place during the end of March or beginning of April and lasts for 10 days.
The International Festival of the North has a long tradition reaching back all the way to 1934. At first it was just a local event, but it gained international status in 1970. It has changed over the years to incorporate new technologies and embrace new popular winter traditions, but still remains one of the most renowned of winter sporting festivals in the world. People come from both all over the country and from elsewhere to take part, including many celebrities and professionals. Olympic Committee representatives even show up each year, looking for the next great talents.
The festival is host to many of the best sporting competitions. There is skiing of many varieties, from races to biathlons, cross-country and downhill. There is field and ice hockey, figure skating and an underwater swimming competition that takes place in an icy lake. There are snowmobile races and, one of the most popular events, reindeer sledding. Another claim to fame is the skiing marathon, in which people travel for miles, across Russia and into Norway and Finland.
This is a very busy event, between all the tourists, competitors and professionals that show up each year. If you want to attend (or maybe even take part), you’d best book lodging well in advance or risk having to commute to the festival each day. If you’re a lover of winter sports, the International Festival of the North is not to be missed.