Which Snow and Ice Festival is the Best in the World?

Snow and Ice Festivals

the harbin snow and ice festival 2018 exposition area also great for bringing the kids

Credits to Kabayanmark

Are you a confessed snow addict, but have the misfortune to live in a country which has mild winters? Do you long to see a satisfying amount of snow for a lasting period of time? If you do, then it’s well worth considering travelling to one of these fantastic snow and ice festivals which are held in celebration of our favourite form of cyrstallised water.

Which of the world’s major ice and snow winter festivals is the best for you?

Winter Snow Festival, Sapporo, Japan

In early February, Sapporo in Japan undergoes an incredible metamorphosis. It takes on a look not incomparable with a snow queen’s palace. Enormous, elaborately carved dragons, vast effigies of Darth Vader and hundreds of smaller figures change the city centre into a fairytale world of ice sculptures. The wow factor multiples when the sun goes down, and the artist’s breathtaking creations blaze with a rainbow spectrum of coloured lights.

sapporo snow and ice festival with a snow sculpture of three anime girls

Credits to Raisa108

The 3 snow and Ice festival areas in Sapporo

The Snow and Ice Festival is in three diverse locations around Sapporo, Odori Park, Susukino and at the Tsu Dome. The whole one and a half kilometre length of Odori Park becomes an awe-inspiring exhibition of spectacular artwork made entirely from snow. Susukino Ice World is where the intricate figures of the ice sculpting contest entries can be seen. While you’re there, you can enjoy a drink at the particular bar carved entirely from ice. Tsu Dome is a phenomenal winter playground where you can get an adrenaline thrill. Try the colossal snow slides, take part in sledge runs or snow rafting, play snow golf and even attempt to make your own ice glass.

Sapporo Snow Festival is an excellent choice if you’re planning on going skiing in any of the major ski resorts in the Hokkaido region of Japan. Niseko or Rusutsu are both within proximity to Sapporo so you’ll be able to enjoy the festival before hitting the slopes.

The Harbin International Snow and Ice Festival

The Harbin International Snow and Ice Festival is China’s incredible two-month homage to winter. It starts from the end of December and continues through to the end of February. Harbin festival out scales other winter festivals anywhere in the world by both its size and its extended duration.

Sun Island

The crafted exhibits are in two main sites in Harbin. At Sun Island there are towering, iceberg-sized fantasies inspired by worldwide themes. They are best marvelled at during the day when the sun glints off the snowy façades. You’ll be genuinely amazed at some of the sculpted structures which are almost fifty meters high.

Harbin Ice and Snow World exposition

In contrast, both in size and colour, the Harbin Ice and Snow World exposition is especially orientated to ignite the imagination of younger visitors. If you’re a big kid at heart, you’ll love it when, at night, the displays of ice structures become a candy-striped vision, which creates a magical make-believe world any of Willy Wonka’s Oompa-Loompa would be proud to reside in.

harbin snow and ice festival 2018 grand night expo

Credits to Kabayanmark

Other things to do in Harbin

Harbin is an amazingly cultural city and has many more attractions to offer besides the Snow and Ice Sculpture Festival. If you want to discover the real China, while also having some winter fun, this could be the annual event to add to your agenda.

St Sophia and Temple of Bliss

There are other places of interest to visit in Harbin. The iconic and recently restored St Sophia Cathedral which is the largest Byzantine church in China is a great place to start. Temple of Bliss with its staggering seven-story high pagoda, is another great option to see and do in Harbin.

Siberian Tiger Park and the Polar Land

While you’re there, you might also enjoy a visit to the Siberian Tiger Park. The park is helping to prevent the extinction of this sadly endangered species. There’s also the unique Polar Land, a theme park which exhibits many animals native to the North Pole who are quite at home in Harbin’s icy winters.

No matter where you’re travelling to China from you will need to acquire a tourist visa before jetting off. This can take some time, so make you sure you plan your trip well in advance.

50 Million per Year

The Harbin International Snow and Ice Sculpture Festival receives, on average, anywhere up to a phenomenal fifteen million visitors every year. So if you don’t like crowds, maybe one of the other winter festivals might be more suitable for you.

Quebec Winter Carnival

The Quebec Winter Carnival is uniquely different to the Snow and Ice Festivals in Sapporo and Harbin. It combines snow and ice themed activities with a fantastic carnival atmosphere. Over a time span of two weeks, from the end of January through to mid-February, the streets of Old Quebec City host every snow related activity you could imagine plus one or two more.

quebec winter carnival one of the snow and ice festivals with the mascot and kiids in old quebec city

Credits to Vlad Ghiea

The carnival items

As well as the requisite sculptures of snow, Bonhomme, the carnival mascot, resides in a palace entirely constructed from ice. The events such as the crowning of the queen and an impressive, interactive multimedia light show take place in the palace. Thematically decorated floats take part in two separate carnival parades. On top of that there’s ice skating, ice hockey, snow baths and human Foosball to watch and participate in. The events culminate in the carnival’s exciting Canoe Race across the frozen St Lawrence river.

Endless action every day

There is so much going on at the Quebec Winter Carnival that every day you’re there you’ll see something new. There are five separate sites where the events and activities take place. They’re all within the walled boundaries of Old Quebec, and easily accessible on foot. Many of the significant events and activities are also fee free. If you have purchased an effigy of Bonhomme, it means you get a lot of extra entertainment for fifteen Canadian dollars.

Don’t forget your ETA

If you’re flying to Canada, you may need to get an ETA or Electronic Travel Authorization to be able to board your flight. Processing of an ETA can take several days so it’s something which you shouldn’t leave until the last minute. On the upside, it will be valid for a period of five years, so you can use it when you want to go again.

So Which Snow and Ice Festival is for You?

All three of these fantastic winter events are completely different. Some are easier to get to than others, but what they all have in common is that you’ll have the winter fun experience of a lifetime. Just make sure you get there before the season changes and the fantastic artworks melt away.

ice temple at the sapporo snow festival

Credits to Samantha Tan

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