If you’re sick of the cold and snow, you’re not alone. Some countries have a knack for embracing the long winter season by celebrating it and hold festivals that revolve around the ice, snow, and cold. Here’s a look at 7 freezing festivals around the world that will make you want to go out into the elements and seize the winter (or not).
1. London Ice Sculpting Festival
In Canary Wharf, over the course of 3 days, you can behold artistic ice creations being made right before your eyes. Teams from around the world compete to create the most beautiful ice sculptures and attempt to win prizes and bragging rights. Want to try your hand at it? There are also ice sculpting classes for those who are daring enough to attempt ice art and carve out their own frozen masterpiece.
2. Sapporo Snow Festival
For seven days in February, Sapporo becomes a winter wonderland of ice and snow. Since 1950, the festival attracts 2 million visitors each year. The festival features about a dozen large snow sculptures and more than one hundred smaller snow statues. Some sculptures have been known to include real crabs, squid and salmon in their displays – yum. Also, visitors can attend concerts and events, many of which use the sculptures as their stage. Be sure to check out the Snow Festival Museum that has historical displays from past festivals.
3. Ice on Whyte Festival, Edmonton
What’s a winter festival list without Canada? 10 days of outdoor art, music, food and fun is an international draw for artists from Russia, Latvia, Lithuania, New Zealand, the Netherlands, even Malaysia. Over 500 blocks of ice weighing 154,764 pounds are the stars of this show.
4. International Festival-Competition of Snow and Ice Sculpture
Starting the New Year right, Russia hosts the International Festival-Competition of Snow and Ice Sculpture (say that 3 times fast – in Russian). On the banks of the freezing Yenisei River, teams from the U.S., Latvia, China, Japan and Kazakhstan so they can compete in both the snow and ice categories.
5. China’s Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival
For 3 months, beginning in December and running through February, Harbin becomes an entire city sculpted from ice and snow. The sculptures are kept intact thanks to temperatures that are well below freezing, allowing long-term enjoyment of the ice art. Imagine walking around an expansive city of dreams made completely of ice and lit up at night. A photographers paradise, for sure.
“For years, the Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival has become the world’s most important winter tourist destination and photographers’ paradise,” according to the festival’s website.
The 30th Harbin International Ice & Snow Sculpture Festival – Opening Ceremony
6. Budweiser International Snow Sculpture Championships
Breckenridge, Colorado, United States
According to the state’s website, “Coloradans consider winter our most privileged season, and we love to celebrate all that comes with it at winter carnivals across the state.” This state takes full advantage of the cold and snow with not only skis and snowboards season, but with 12-foot high, 40,000-pound blocks of snow for teams to create a masterpiece.
7. Michigan Technology University’s Winter Carnival
Michigan, United States
The cities of Houghton and Hancock have an annual snowfall average in the region of 207.7 inches. Luckily these cities know how to party, despite the massive amounts of snow. Each year, since 1922, students of the university compete to create the winning sculpture from snow according to each year’s theme. Though this festival isn’t on as grand a scale as others, they get huge points for being a university-based celebration of local pride. The snow isn’t the only beautiful thing – there’s an annual pageant and crowning of the winter carnival’s queen. And for the athletically inclined, other activities include ice-bowling, curling and speed skating.