The celebration of the festival of Ice happens in the winter months around the world. To get inspired this winter, we curated the list of Top 10 Ice sculpture festivals and winter festivals.
Where: Harbin, China
When : December 25, 2020 to February 25, 2021 (varied opening dates for some exhibits)
Harbin Ice and Snow Festival is the world’s largest international Ice festival with artists displaying creations that leave you awestruck. Starting in 1985, now around 15 million tourists visit it annually. It is held in the cold city of Harbin, China. Due to icy cold weather, the snow sculptures remain on the display for over 2 months.
The festival coincides with major Chinese holidays like New Year and Chinese New Year.
There are three main exhibitions at different venues with separate tickets:
The Ice and Snow World has created massive ice structures ranging from a replica of palaces, a complete city using the ice from the nearby Songhua River. The sculptures are illuminated in the night with vivid colors.
The magnificent snow sculptures displayed are a marvel to the eyes and great to watch during the day. Zhaolin Park is the venue for exhibiting the Illuminated ice lanterns and figures of characters to please the kids. This is a free exhibition.
Harbin International Ice and Snow festival also has various events like ice skating, skiing, ice fishing, and many more to enjoy.
Tickets: All venues have separate tickets ranging from (Chinese Yuan) CNY 135 to CNY 330
Tips: Wear warm clothing to beat the chilling temperatures of -13°C and take care of the phone as the battery gets depleted fast during cold weather.
Where: Bergsjøstølen, Norway
When: 26 – 27 Feb 2021
This is one unique festival where artists craft their instruments from ice and play them to enthrall the audience from around the world.
Started back in 2006 with just 1 artist it has grown leaps and bound into an annual tradition followed by many. Now different artists, ice carvers, lightning crew, engineers, and many more volunteers present a perfect meld of skill and passion.
Instruments like Ice Harp, Ice drums, ice guitars, speakers, and many more instruments are made and used to perform by the artists.
In 2021, due to Covid, each artist will have their own Igloo Homes. They will be furnishing it with their ice-carved instruments, lightning, and holding concerts for the audiences in their volatile home.
After reading about it and gazing at the pictures, this Winter music festival has surely made a special place on my bucket list. How about you?
Tickets: (Norwegian Krone) NOK 470 Per concert for an Adult.
Where: Fairbanks, Alaska
When : Feb 15, 2021 – Mar 12, 2021
Ice Alaska is one of the World’s biggest and finest ice sculptures competition and exhibition. With the best artists from around the world coming at one stage to show their magical skills, it is a must-visit.
The festival began in 1990 as a small level competition with 8 teams displaying their craft for 7 days. With 30 years of experience, it has grown manifold with around 100 artists and spanning for 1 month. The festival attracts visitors from all across to witness this marvel.
There are many competitions spread over a month both for Adults and youth along with many activities for kids. It is impressive to watch acclaimed sculptors carve out breathtaking creations from just a block of ice.
Tickets: Day pass for Adult – USD 16, Youth – USD 8, and kids under 6 years – Free. If you plan to spend more than a day then taking a seasonal pass is the favorable choice. The Season Pass for Adult costs – USD 25 while for Youth – USD 15.
Where : Sapporo, Japan
When : 2021 event is cancelled, will only be held Online.
This snow festival in Japan has so much history associated with it as it first began in 1950 with snowball fights and a snow sculpture exhibition. Over the years, its popularity and size have increased manifold.
As of today, there are 3 sites at the Sapporo Snow festivals for enthusiastic visitors to enjoy.
The Ice sculpture contest gets artists from all across the world who display some amazing skills bringing the ice sculptures to life.
Apart from the icy stuff, there is a food park where authentic Japanese cuisine can be savored.
Where: Moscow, Russia
When: End of December to End of January
Russia is a winter paradise. From Northern lights to icy parks, there is so much. Amidst the cold, many parts turn into the stage for magical ice creations. Ice Moscow Festival is the highlight of Russia with jaw-dropping creations by ice carving are made.
Many iconic Russian landmarks are brought to life and light through the simple ice blocks. Just simple ice blocks, by the hands of the sculptors, create magic on it.
More than 100 sculptures, some significant as ice replicas of the Moscow Kremlin and the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, Yuri Gagarin are on display.
Where: Jelgava, Latvia
When: February 5 – 7 , 2021
One of the top Ice festivals in the Baltic’s and around the world takes place in Jelgava in Latvia. The Ice festival began in 1998 in a modest way and has grown to an international level.
Artists from countries like Russia, Bulgaria, Lithuania, Finland, and many more put their hearts and souls into creating a masterpiece from a humble block of ice.
Besides Ice sculptures, there are many cultural events and fireworks that are great to enjoy.
Tickets: EUR 5 (if booked in advance) while EUR 7 at the event. The family ticket is EUR 10 in advance while EUR 15 at the event.
Where: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
When: January 28 to February 7, 2021
Ice on Whyte is one of the three Ice carving competitions held in Canada. This is one festival that is not held in open but in temperature-controlled tents. It helps the creations to stay protected from the environment. The Ice sculptures are made by artists from around the world – Japan, Netherlands, USA, Iraq, Latvia, Russia, and many more.
The best part is that there are Ice carving lessons where you can try your hands at this artistic skill. The lessons are for both adults and kids.
Besides the competition there are many fun games and events to enjoy.
Tickets: Family Pack (2 Adults, 2 kids) is CA$ 20, Adult – CA$ 7 while Child- CA$ 5
Where: Valloire , France
When: January 12 – 15, 2021 ( Ice Sculpture festival); 19 to Friday 22 January 2021 (Snow festival)
Valloire is truly a winter enthusiasts destination with not only 1 but two festivals – Valloire Ice Sculpture competition and Valloire Snow Sculpture competition.
Into the 38th year, this famous Snow festival is a great event not only in France but across the world. There is even a ballot from the public to choose the best snow sculpture.
Valloire is a ski resort town with spectacular backdrops of snow studded mountains.
Valloire also holds the International Ice sculpture competition that began in 1991 and attracts sculptors from around the world. The roads are lined up with the sculptures for the visitors to view and enjoy the creativity. At the night the sculptures are illuminated and mesmerizing to view.
The festival ends with a spectacular firework display and torchlight parade.
Tickets: Free event.
Where: Quebec, Canada
When: February 5 – 14, 2021
Come February and Quebec turns into a Winter Wonderland with streets across the city venue to host activities.
Can you believe that Quebec Winter Carnival is into the 67th year of inception? The Winter capital of the world had started the tradition to beat the harsh winter with festivities.
The streets are filled with 100 ice and snow sculptures carved by the best artists from across the world. The highlight of the festival is the Ice Palace.
There are 7 sites across the city where different activities happen. Check out the event sites here and the activities:
Tickets: Free to enter the streets. Can buy Effigy dollars by buying the Effigy, the traditional emblem of the carnival to receive discount coupons to redeem at stores. Buy the Effigy from here.\
Where: Lilitz, Pennsylvania, USA
When: Canceled for 2021
The small town of Lititz, PA turns into a happening place in the winter with the Fire and Ice Festival. The festival starts on Friday evening with a downtown block party and the artists begin to carve the ice blocks into magnificent creations.
Saturday is a fun day with kids carnival with a lot of games, music, and fun activities. Must be. Wondering what is Fire in the name for? Fire refers to the Chilli cook-off that takes place on Saturday and you get to taste the different receipted of chilies.
Main Street and other streets in the downtown are lined up with beautiful creations of ice. Kids especially enjoy the fire trucks, cars, guitars, and of course the ice throne to sit and pose on. It is great to walk down the street with a cup of hot chocolate.
Tickets: It is free to walk around and admire the sculptures. The Chili cook-off and Kids carnival are ticketed events at around USD 10 per person.