The annual Winter Festival will start on December 12, 2019 and runs until December 26th, 2019. There does not seem to be a separate Winter Festival Zenith this year. The period for Free Gifts runs from December 19th 2019 to January 2, 2020.
You must be level 15 to enter the Winterfest and in past years you needed to be level 30 to receive Starlight Bags when exchanging gifts with other players.
Once you travel to Twilight Tor, the town where the Winter Festival takes place, from the overworld map there’s a tutorial given to you by Mayor Vario Cepheid. You’ll want to talk to him every day after completing the tutorial to get the two quests that give you free items in the Winter Festival.
TIP: Leave all your characters at the campfire next to the mayor to make quick work of gathering the quest gifts each day.
There are two free items to collect each day via the quests from Mayor Cepheid: the Starlight Parcel by using the Starlight Voucher the Zen store and the Star of Fortune you receive by looking through the telescope in Twilight Tor. You must collect these each day; the are not retroactively claimable.
Free item #1: Starlight Parcels
As you can see from the image to the right, the number of gifts you open is tracked (this is the tooltip image from last year). Starlight Parcels count and Starlight Bags both count as gifts and increasethe number counted. (More on Starlight Bags later).
The best strategy is to hold your Starlight Parcels until after the counter reaches 20. As the tooltip shows, after 20 gifts you get the “Highly-Sought-After Rewards”. Another key here is that drops from Starlight Parcels are unbound items and can thus be sold on the AH. Starlights Bags drop bound items.
Every Starlight Parcel you open gives you a Gift of Simril (covered later).
So how do you get Starlight Bags? These drop from gift giving parties where players exchange Gifts of Simril. Remember that every Starlight Parcel you open gives you a Gift of Simril.
From the tooltip to the right we see that Starlight Bags are a potential drop from the Gift of Simril.
You slot a stack of the Gifts of Simril in your toolbar and form a party with up to four other players. When you “consume” a gift you’ll see a lantern float up in the air and a message displayed that states something like “Your party members are receiving gifts”. The other members of your party see drops appear that they can step over to pick up. Starlight Bags are one of the drops. Starlight Bags can also contain more Gifts of Simril and extend the length of gift giving parties.
TIP: Conduct gift giving parties in a contained location, such as under the roof of one of the bridges in Twilight Tor. The drops from Gifts of Simril spread all over the place and conducting the party in a contained location saves running around after each drop.
IMPORTANT: I recommend you only do gift giving parties with Alliance members. There are scammers that will take your gift drops and then bail. There are two popular scams. One is where you join a party and they tell you to open all your gifts first. Then the scammers bail without opening any for you. The second is to use a non-gift giving latern (similar to fireworks, but with lanterns) that look like gifts but don’t release any drops.
How do I get to 20 gifts and access the “Highly-Sought-After Rewards??
The are two ways for you to open 20 Starlight Bags (before you open Starlight Parcels for the unbound items). One is to join a kind-hearted gift giving party where there is no expectation for you to give gifts and hope you receive 20 Starlight Bags using this approach. Remember that Starlight Bags can drop Gifts of Simril so you may be able to participate in a party without burning Starlight Parcels if you receive Gifts of Simril from Starlight Bags. The second is by trading the second major event currency, Stars of Fortune, for a Gift of Simril.
Star of Fortune
While the first daily quest gives you a Starlight Parcels, the second daily quest gives you a Star of Fortune. The second quest involves looking through the telescope in Twilight Tor. If you save your Stars of Fortune, you can purchase items from the event store. There’s a chance that you can get more Stars of Fortune duringgift giving parties as well.
This year they’ve added a new mount to the Star of Fortune store, specifically a Winter Flail Snail mount.
As mentioned earlier, you can trade your Star of Fortune for a Gift of Simril as well.
The incentive for fishing in the Winter Fesitval is campaign boons. I never completed the Sharandar campaign: I got every boon by fishing during the Winter Festival.
Here’s how this works: when you’re fishing, you can pull up non-fish, campaign specific items that can be used to trade in for campaign currency. In the past, another popular currency was Linu’s Favors to help finish out the Tyranny of Dragons campaign.
Fishing can be especially attractive to newer players who are still working on campaign completion.
That’s all for now! Leave comments below if I’ve missed anything good and enjoy the Winter Festival!