7 Cool Winter Festivals to Visit

Turning ice or snow into art around the world.

Snow sculptures in China.

(TonyV3112 / Shutterstock.com)

Snow and Ice festivals are something to look forward to after the Christmas lights and decorations are packed away. All around the world, people make the most of the cold weather to compete in winter sculpting competitions. The results are works of art that inspire awe and wonder, according to the World Atlas

Thousands of spectators bundle up to enjoy the festivities. Here are seven places around the world that hold amazing winter festivals that you can visit.

World Ice Championships - Fairbanks, Alaska

The World Ice Association has been hosting an annual festival and ice sculpting competition in Fairbanks since 1990, reported TimeOut. This month-long event hosts 70 teams that compete in five competitive ice carving events including single block, double block, multiple block, amateur,  as well as a youth class that is made up of local schoolchildren. The 2024 Ice Alaska competition runs from February 17 - March 3.

International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival - Harbin China

The annual International Ice and Snow Sculpture festival in Harbin is the largest in the world, according to a blog on The Discoverer Travel site. Some people actually compare it to a frozen Disneyland because the festival’s actions are help in several theme parks and include thrilling rides. There’s also a dazzling evening display of ice sculptures. The festival is opening on January 5, 2024.

World Snow Sculpting Championships – Stillwater, Minnesota

The third annual World Snow Sculpting Championships in Stillwater runs from January 17 - 21 in 2024, according to TimeOut. Each team creates and extravagant snow sculpture in Lowell park and the winner is crowned the “world champion.” There’s many more activities to do during the festival including a cookoff and a super cool block party.

Geilo Ice Music Festival  - Norway

This unique ice music festival that began 19 years ago, is truly unique and brings ice sculpting to an all-new level. Artists gather in Geilco to create working musical instruments from ice. The performance takes place in an igloo. The 2024 festival will take place February 19-24.

International Snow Sculpture Championships – Breckenridge, Colorado

This winter festival has been celebrated for over three decades, according to TimeOut. Teams of artists from around the world compete to hand carve 25-ton blocks of snow into works of art. There are no power tools allowed! The result is an outdoor art gallery in downtown Breckenridge. The 34 th annual Snow Sculpture championship will run January 22-26, 2024 and the art gallery will be open from January 26-31.

Kiruna Snow Festival  - Sweden

This snow festival, held in Kiruna – which is deep inside the arctic circle – began in 1986, explained The Discoverer. The main part of the festival is a snow sculpting competition that includes artists from around the world. But there are plenty of activities to keep visitors busy during the competition, including sledding, figure skating and a snowblower contest where participants work to see who can clear a path through a 40cm deep pile of snow. The 2024 festival takes place from January 24-28.

Ice Magic Festival – Banff, Canada

The Ice Magic Festival has been taking place in Banff National Park for over 20 years, explained World Atlas. The 2024 competition will run from January 26 - 28 and February 2 - 4. The final artworks are displayed for visitors who have an opportunity to participate in other activities including freestyle ice sculpting and ice games. You must have tickets to attend.