Though ski vacations remain a popular winter retreat, vacations revolving around ice are increasing in popularity thanks to ice festivals popping up around the world and ingenuity that has made it possible to build ice hotels anew each season and create faux ice rinks in sunny locales.
The ultimate display of whimsical winter wonderland lies in the northern reaches of China in Harbin, where the annual Harbin Ice and Snow Festival (哈尔滨国际冰雪节) ushers in the season of icy breaks in early January. Closer to home, folks can check out similar life-size ice buildings infused with neon lights and glide down magical slides made of ice at the annual spectacle ICE! at Gaylord Palms in Orlando, Fla. If viewing gigantic winter wonderlands made of ice is not your thing, check out these 12 icy breaks, which offer miniature but equally magical events.
Perennially popular are trips where travelers can practice pirouettes at hotel ice rinks like The Cosmopolitan’s in Las Vegas, which includes skate-up cabanas and wintery drinks, or skate on sea ice at the Åland Islands, an autonomous cluster of Finnish islands in the Baltic Sea.
After a day of ice-skating, grab a cocktail served in a glass made of ice and snooze on an ice bed at Québec’s Hôtel de Glace, which is rebuilt each season, or have a sleepover in an igloo perched higher than 6,000 feet in the Bernese Alps in the Igloo Village of Saanerslochgrat in Switzerland.
While the memories of these 12 icy breaks are sure to last a lifetime, travelers must act fast, as the frosty fun literally disappears when the ice melts in early spring.
Lauren Mack is the Travel Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @lmack.