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Ice sculptures, slides and fireworks: 10 great winter festivals in the USA

From castles made out of icicles, to slides made out of ice blocks, and winding sculptures made out of snow by hand, parks and city centers across the U.S. are hosting America's biggest winter snow and ice festivals. Time-out.

From mounds of loose white snow commonly used for skiing, turned into snow sculptures at the International Snow Sculpture Championships in Breckenridge, Colorado, to 2-tonne, clear blocks of ice hand-carved and chiseled into stunning ice works of art at the Ice World Championships in Fairbanks, Alaska. Check out the most spectacular ice and snow festivals in the US this year.


Where: Kissimmee, Florida

When: from November 18, 2022 to January 1, 2023

Ice sculptors from Harbin, China, home of the famous Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival, spend weeks chipping away 900 tons of ice to create an icy wonderland at the Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center near Orlando, Florida. Dress warmly and enter ICE!, a 2000 square meter space where the temperature is minus 12C to see the story of "Grinch Stole Christmas" in ice.

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The ice ride includes ice slides, colorful ice sculptures, and holiday activities such as a circus-style Christmas show, a breakfast feast with the Grinch character, and photos with Santa.

2. Winter festival of fire and ice

Where: Ely, Nevada

When: from 13 to 15 January 2023

Since 2003, White Pine County has hosted a winter festival arts and athletics. During the Winter Fire and Ice Festival, teams have nearly three days to handcraft ice sculptures at Veterans Park. The festivities include community arts, ice bowling and ice disc golf tournaments, as well as ski races, snow shows and bike races. Highlights are ice sculptures and fireworks.

3. Ice castles

Where: countrywide

When: 2023 year

ice castles is an ice attraction that appears annually throughout the country: in Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Utah and Wisconsin. Hundreds of thousands of icicles are used to create LED-lit sculptures, ice thrones, ice tunnels, ice slides, ice labyrinths and fountains. Most locations offer holiday sleigh rides along the scenic trail leading up to the castle. The ice castles are built in five locations and usually open in January and stay open until late February or early March, depending on the weather. At the time of writing, dates for 2023 have not yet been announced.

4. World Snow Sculpture Championship

Where: Stillwater, Minnesota

When: from 18 to 23 January 2023

Championship World Snow Sculpture Championship, sanctioned by the International Ice and Snow Sculpture Association, hosts snow sculpture teams from all over the world. Each team creates an intricate snow sculpture in Lowell Park and the winner becomes the world champion. The festivities include snow sculptures, wild rice cooking, and the "coolest" party in the world.

5 Zehnder's Snowfest

Where: Frankenmuth, Michigan

When: from 25 to 29 January 2023

For over three decades Zehnder's Snowfest hosts a winter festival featuring snow sculptures and intricate ice block carvings made from single and double blocks of ice. Professionals, college students, and high school students compete in separate snow sculpture competitions, while college students compete in ice carving. Zehnder's Snowfest also includes a petting zoo, fireworks, and a 100-block ice carving exhibit.

6. Winter Ice Festival Meltdown

Where: Richmond, Indiana

When: last weekend of January

At the 10th annual winter festival Ice Meltdown features the creations of ice carvers and artists who transform 9 tons of ice into intricate ice sculptures. On winter weekends, ice sculptures are placed throughout the city center. The highlight of the event is the Meltdown Throwdown, where ice carvers battle it out in front of a live audience. The festival fun includes quests, a photo exhibition with photos from past competitions, and open carving to see the ice masters at work.

7. International Snow Sculpture Championship

Where: Breckenridge, Colorado

When: from January 27 to February 1, 2023

For more than three decades, teams of snow sculptors have been coming to Breckenridge, Colorado for International snow sculpture championship. Each team of four has five days to manually turn the 25-ton snow blocks into snow art. The result was a temporary snow art gallery in downtown Breckenridge.

8. Snow Daze Festival

Where: Kenosha, Wisconsin

When: February 4, 2023

Festival Snow Daze, held annually in February, is a one-day winter festival known for its intricate ice sculptures set in front of restaurants, shops and businesses in downtown Kenosha, Wisconsin, less than 40 miles from Chicago. After viewing the ice creations, you can slide on the ice at the outdoor skating rink at Veterans Memorial Park.

9. Ice World Championship

Where: Fairbanks, Alaska

When: from mid-February to mid-March

Since 1990, the ICE World Association has held annual competition on Ice Sculpture in Fairbanks, Alaska. The Ice Arts World Championships has evolved from a one-week event with eight teams to a month-long event with 70 teams competing in five competitive disciplines: single block, double block and multiple block.

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Local schoolchildren compete in a classic youth competition to carve a sculpture out of an 800 kg block of ice. An amateur master class is open for everyone who wants to try their hand at ice carving.

10. Lititz Fire and Ice Festival

Where: Lititis, Pennsylvania

When: from 17 to 26 February 2023

Lititz Fire and Ice Festival is a 10-day celebration of fire and ice. Restaurants and bars fill with festive food and drink, and festival-goers stroll through the city to admire the exquisite ice sculptures at Main Street, Broad Street, Juniper Lane, and at the entrance to Lititz Springs Park. A crafts market with local arts and crafts, a Winter Children's Event Fund and a photography exhibition complete the festival's offerings.

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