Slideshow: Winter’s Best Ice Festivals

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These are eight of the world’s best ice festivals you can still visit this winter (and should)
BP World Ice Art Championships, Alaska

Photo by Jamie A. via Yelp 

The BP World Ice Art Championships in Fairbanks, Alaska, is as serious as it gets in the ice sculpture world. There are four competitive divisions in the championship: Single Block Classic, Multi-Block Classic, Ice Alaska Youth Classic, and Amateur Open Exhibition. The festival event will have an ice park for kids, ice sculpting classes, and dog sled rides. 

BP World Ice Art Championships, Alaska

BP World Ice Art Championships, Alaska

Photo by Jamie A. via Yelp 

The BP World Ice Art Championships in Fairbanks, Alaska, is as serious as it gets in the ice sculpture world. There are four competitive divisions in the championship: Single Block Classic, Multi-Block Classic, Ice Alaska Youth Classic, and Amateur Open Exhibition. The festival event will have an ice park for kids, ice sculpting classes, and dog sled rides. 

Concours International de Sculpture sur Glace et sur Neige, France

The Concours International de Sculpture sur Glace et sur Neige’s takes places on the ski resort property of Valloire-Galibier in France. The ice sculpture contest is in its 26th year and lasts four days, from Jan. 10 to 13, with a musical and light show closing the event. There is also a snow sculpture contest in its 34th year the following week, from Jan. 17 to 20, where there will be a free concert to start the event and fireworks to end it. Although it’s only open for a short time, the event is worth a visit if you can make it there. Have some mulled wine and hot chocolate to keep warm as you marvel at the sculptures.

Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival, China

Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival, China

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Harbin’s winter festival is the largest ice and snow festival in the world. The Harbin Ice Festival has four theme parks: Sun Island, Ice and Snow World, Ice Lantern Fair, and Songhua River Ice. With so many beautiful ice sculptures to see and an endless list of activities, it’s no wonder the festival is open for more than a month, from Jan. 5 to Feb. 25. The ice sculptures are not only grand but are illuminated in vibrant colors, creating a world all its own.   

During your visit, check out one of the 26 restaurants in China’s first Michelin Guide.  

Ice Music Festival, Norway

There may be tons of music festivals throughout the year, but Geilo, Norway, hosts the only Ice Music Festival in the world where all instruments are made with natural ice.  Each artist that performs during the festival gets a special invite. On the first day ice music concerts will take place in igloos, the second day you’ll hear the world’s first ice saxophone, the third day will be a surprise family concert, and the last day the creator of ice music, Terje Insungset, will perform. The festival is magical and one of a kind (literally). 

Ice on Whyte Festival, Canada

This year at Ice on Whyte Festival in Edmonton, Canada, participate in games, enjoy live music entertainment, slide down their ice slide, and see the International Ice Carving Competition. This ice and snow winter wonderland is created by volunteers, with production taking place all year long. If you want to step away from the festival for a bit, head to one of the many restaurants, cafés, and pubs in the area for a bite or drinks.

If you’re in Alberta for a while, take a trip out to Banff National Park to cross it of your list of the top “it” destinations of 2017.

Québec Winter Carnival, Canada

Québec Winter Carnival, Canada

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If you’re attending Québec’s Winter Carnival, you’ll see ice and snow sculptures in the theme this year of Canada’s 150th anniversary. There will also be night parades, sleigh rides, a snow bath, skating, an ice canoe race, and an igloo made just for happy hour. While you’re there, be sure to have maple taffy on snow, and brush up on your Canadian phrases beforehand. 

Sapporo Snow Festival, Japan

Sapporo Snow Festival, Japan

Shutterstock/ poyja

If you missed Sapporo’s Christmas market, try not to miss the Sapporo Snow Festival. The festival takes place in Odori Park, the Community Dome Tsudome, and Susukino’s main street featuring roughly 250 snow and ice sculptures. Odori Park is located in downtown Sapporo, where the amazing sculptures get lit up every night after sunset. At Tsudome you can go snow rafting or make your way down the large snow slides. The theme in Susukino Ice World is “Enjoy the Ice.” The festival goes from Feb. 1 to 12, but the Odori site will not open until Feb. 6. 

Saranac Lake Winter Carnival, New York

Saranac Lake Winter Carnival, New York

Photo Modified: Flickr/ robmadeo CC by 2.0

A 10-day winter festival lasting from Feb. 3 to 12, Saranac Lake Winter Carnival in New York has an “Adirondack Wildlife” theme this year and will feature traditional winter sporting events like hockey games, alpine ski races, and snowshoeing. Other activities will include ultimate Frisbee games, snowshoe softball, a chocolate festival, concerts, and shows. Don’t miss the ice palace that locals build and maintain as long as the weather permits, and make sure to pick up a collectible Saranac Lake Winter Carnival button while you’re at the festival. If you didn’t get a button, did you even go?