Even though winter brings about shorter days and longer nights, these cities around the world are making the best of it with a celebration involving dynamic light shows and astounding ice sculptures. Here’s where to go to the celebrate the colder climes.
Just over an hour’s drive from Amsterdam, the Dutch Ice Sculpture Festival in Zwolle is billed as the largest ice sculpture festival in Europe. Over 100 awe-inspiring works by talented ice artists from around the world will be on display. This year’s theme, “World Famous Stories”, promises spectacular carvings of classic tales like Romeo and Juliet, Animal Farm, Alice in Wonderland and more. Made out of 275,000kg of ice and 275,000kg of snow, the sculptures reach up to 6m in height, with light and sound projections to enhance their grandeur. Tickets cost €14,50 (S$22.50) for adults and €10,00 (S$16) for children. Buy them here.
Until 3 March 2019
2. Ice Moscow
One of Moscow’s biggest events, this festival takes place all around the city, inviting visitors to view beautiful ice sculptures, play winter sports and do a little shopping. Highlights include two 100m ice slides built around the Kremlin, as well as theatre performances, ice museums and even a Russian fashion show. Most of the events take place at Poklonnaya Hill, where you can expect to see over 100 sculptures in a festival that covers 2,000m².
Until 13 January 2019
3. Longqing Gorge Ice and Snow Festival
Immerse yourselves in a magical winter wonderland at this annual festival at Longqing Gorge, just a two-hour drive north of Beijing. This intimate festival with a mystical atmosphere features huge blocks of ice transformed into over 400 ice sculptures in wonderful, imaginative shapes – think dragons, lanterns and even ice castles. Don’t miss the nightly fireworks displays and folk dancing performances, or the opportunity to try your hand at ice fishing or skating. Tickets cost 100 yuan (S$20) each, while children below 1.2m in height enter for free.
Until 28 February 2019
Long, dark winters are typical of Reykjavik, but its annual Winter Lights Festival literally brightens up the night sky with colourful light installations on buildings around the city. Entertaining cultural activities are also in store: watch dance, music, film and other performances during Museum Night on 8 February, when museums around the city are free and open until 11pm. Or enjoy a relaxing soak in a thermal pool on 9 February’s Pool Night, which includes activities and pool illuminations.
7 to 10 February 2019
The remote, mountainous village of Finse, Norway, where temperatures go down to -20˚C or lower, plays host to this unconventional music event. Here, musicians and artists perform using instruments carved out of ice, from horns to drums and percussion sets. There’ll also be an Ice Dance Club with a DJ spinning sound samples collected only from the ice instruments. To get to Finse, fly into Bergen or Oslo and hop on a train. A three-day pass costs 1,650 krone (S$265), a one-day pass costs 835 krone (S$133) and tickets to individual events are 420 krone each (S$67). Buy them here.
14 to 16 February 2019
Just a short bus ride from Seoul, the Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival offers activities like sledding, ice soccer and even figure skating, but its main attraction is its variety of methods to catch sancheoneo (mountain trout). For the inquisitive, there is ice fishing, bare-hand fishing and even night fishing. Holes in the ice are already prepared for the experience; once you’re done, bring your catch to a nearby tent and have it cooked for lunch. Entry to the festival is free, but tickets to activities are purchased on-site. Ice fishing costs 15,000 won (S$18), while ice sledding prices start at 5,000 won (S$6).
Until 27 January 2019
Celebrated as Europe’s largest festival dedicated to the beauty of snow, the highlight here is the international snow sculpture competition, where artists create beautiful works of art to be displayed until spring. Festival-goers get to vote on their favourite sculpture designs, and also have the opportunity to check out handicraft fairs, enjoy music concerts and marvel at the Northern Lights. Those who are done with their shopping can strap on a pair of skis and go cross-country skiing, or check out a race among the city’s snowblowers.
23 to 27 January 2019
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