Lit up ice palace in Japan (Dreamstime)
List 20 October

Festive fun: 10 frozen festivals to get heated up about

From music played through ice-built instruments in Norway to ice sculptures of Angkor Wat in Japan, these fantastic festivals add fun and colour to cold winters around the world...

1: Harbin Snow and Ice Festival, China

Ice sculpture at Harbin Snow and Ice Festival, China  (Dreamstime)

Ice sculpture at Harbin Snow and Ice Festival, China (Dreamstime)

When: 21 Dec 2018–Feb 2019

The world’s biggest winter festival is a -20ºC wonder. Grab a tanghulu (candied fruit stick) and admire the rows of snow sculptures, then assail the neon-lit ice palace. Expect winter swimming displays, ice hotels and dog sleds.

Click here for more information 

2: Kiruna Snow Festival, Sweden

Dog sledding in Kiruna, Sweden (Dreamstime)

Dog sledding in Kiruna, Sweden (Dreamstime)

When: Jan 2019, dates tbc

Yes, there’s ice-sculpting and reindeer races at this celebration, but there’s dog sledding and Sami traditions, too, offering genuine insights into Lappish culture.

Click here for more information 

3: Sapporo Snow Festival, Japan

Ice sculpture at Sapporo Snow Festival, Japan (Shutterstock)

Ice sculpture at Sapporo Snow Festival, Japan (Shutterstock)

When: 31 Jan–11 Feb 2019

Here, ice carvers create everything from giant frozen Manga characters to a replica Angkor Wat to make a 1.5km display across Odori Park, best seen lit up at night.

Click here for more information 

4: Ice Music Festival, Norway

The mountainous village of Geilo, Norway (Dreamstime)

The mountainous village of Geilo, Norway (Dreamstime)

When: 14–19 Feb 2019

Hear ice-built instruments (from cellos to talatuts) played inside an ice-built auditorium at the world’s only ice music festival, held in the mountainous village of Geilo. A hauntingly melodic experience under the year’s first full moon.

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5: Iceberg Festival, Canada

An iceberg floating past St Anthony, Newfoundland (Dreamstime)

An iceberg floating past St Anthony, Newfoundland (Dreamstime)

When: 7–16 June 2019

The town of St Anthony in Newfoundland and Labrador marks the arrival of the huge icebergs that drift down from the Arctic with ice carving, excursions, entertainment and seafood fresh from the North Atlantic.

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6: Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival, South Korea

People ice fishing for trouts on the frozen river during Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival, South Korea (Dreamstime)

People ice fishing for trouts on the frozen river during Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival, South Korea (Dreamstime)

When: 5 – 27 January 2019

There are many impressive ice sculptures in the indoor ice sculpture square here, but the main attraction is the trout ice fishing, with visitors cutting a hole in the frozen Bukhangang River and having a go at snagging a trout. Special prizes are given if you use your bare hands.

If you don’t fancy the trout, there’s many cultural events to keep you entertained as well as snow sledding, ice soccer and bobsleighing.  

Click here for more information 

7: Snow and Ice Sculpture Festival, Belgium

An ice sculpture at Belgium's Snow and Ice Sculpture Festival (Dreamstime)

An ice sculpture at Belgium's Snow and Ice Sculpture Festival (Dreamstime)

When: 24 November 2018 – 6 January 2019

Set amongst the charming Christmas markets and festive decorations in the chocolate-box town of Bruges, you’ll find the annual Snow and Sculpture Festival, held in a specially-constructed, climate controlled marque just in front of the station. Artists from all over the world descent on the town to create incredibly intricate ice and snow sculptures.  

This year, the festival is celebrating the 90th anniversary of Mickey Mouse with a series of Disney-related creations, starring the most-loved heroes of Disney Classics, Pixar, Marvel and Star Wars.

Click here for more information 

8: The Ice Trail, England

An ice sculpture of a swan during the city's Ice Trail weekend, York (Shutterstock)

An ice sculpture of a swan during the city's Ice Trail weekend, York (Shutterstock)

When: 2 February 2019

This icy display in York is the largest in the UK, with over 50 intricate ice sculptures on the city’s streets, bringing visitors and sparkle to the gloomy winter day.

The event includes a battle against the elements, where ice and fire are pitted against each other for the ultimate showdown.

Click here for more information 

9: Carnaval De Quebec, Canada

A snow sculptor finishing a set of giant heads at the Carnaval De Quebec (Dreamstime)

A snow sculptor finishing a set of giant heads at the Carnaval De Quebec (Dreamstime)

When: 8 – 17 February 2019

Always a staple in the Quebecois diary, this 65th edition of the winter carnival promises to be more majestic than ever with frozen sculptures, light shows, a giant ice palace, night parades and the iconic carnival canoe race, which sees elite athletes racing across the frozen St. Lawrence River.

Click here for more information 

10: Cody Ice Festival, USA

Ice climbing the waterfall (Shutterstock)

Ice climbing the waterfall (Shutterstock)

When: TBC

Billed as the 'friendliest little ice festival in the northern Rockies', Cody Ice Climbing Festival is in fact one of the world's few waterfall ice festivals. 

Events focus around a waterfall on the edge of town that freezes up each winter. Both expert and amateur climbers gather to scale it. A whole side-show of events are scheduled to keep everyone else entertained and a local micro-brewery sets up on site to help keep things interesting.

Click here for more information