Winter is a time of celebration across much of the United States and Canada. Winter festivals showcase some of the world’s best artists, while also celebrating local culture and folklore. Here are a few winter festivals worth checking out in 2022.
International Snow Sculpture Championships — Breckenridge, Colorado
Artists from around the world flock to Colorado’s high country for the International Snow Sculpture Championships. For 5 days starting on January 24, competitors will create art from 12-foot, 20-ton blocks of snow. Teams are not allowed to use power tools to make their creations, only hand tools! The public is allowed to watch the carving for free and once the sculptures are complete, they remain on public display for about a week. Visitors can vote for their favorite, and be sure to catch the sculptures at night during the grand illumination light display.
World Ice Art Championship — Fairbanks, Alaska
In the 1930s, Alaska celebrated spring by hosting winter carnivals. Today, that tradition remains with the internationally-known 2022 World Ice Art Championship running from mid-February until the end of March. More than 100 artists from across the globe work to create exhibition pieces, but only a handful get to compete. Competitions range from single-block ice art to double blocks, all the way up to 9 blocks of ice in which teams of four have 5 days to create a winning masterpiece. Tickets start at $17, but a senior discount brings them down to $12. You can buy them here.
Ice On Whyte Festival — Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
The Ice on Whyte Festival is a 10-day festival starting at the end of January. Walk through the ice sculpture garden created by top Canadian artists, then learn how to do it yourself by taking a Chippers ice carving class. There are carving lessons for both kids and adults. Don’t forget to reward yourself for all that hard work at the Ice Bar featuring local beers and cocktails, and fuel up at the on-site food truck. Tickets start at $6 and you can grab them here.
Quebec Winter Carnival — Quebec, Canada
The Quebec Winter Carnival has been around in some form since the late 1800s. The modern-day carnival launches February 4, when the city’s mayor hands over the keys to the city to the carnival’s mascot — the Bonhomme. He’s a large snowman wearing a red headpiece and belt, and he only comes around during the 3 weeks of the carnival. This year, revelers can search the city for items belonging to Bonhomme in order to win prizes. There’s also a hockey tournament, dance party, ax throwing, slides, and obstacle courses. The event is free to the public.
Lititz Fire And Ice Festival — Lititz, Pennsylvania
The Lititz Fire And Ice Festival starts February 18 and runs for 10 days in the small town of Lititz, Pennsylvania, outside of Lancaster. The annual event features ice carvings, food and drink vendors, as well as local merchants. The festival kicks off this year with a private launch party on February 17. Ticketed guests will dazzle in live ice sculpting demonstrations, entertainment, plus food and drinks. There are different fun themes throughout the festival, including a kids-themed day. Be sure to grab a punch card to visit all the local restaurants and breweries for specially-made festival cocktails. Fill up your card and vote for your favorite!
Icestravaganza — Davenport, Iowa
Animals are the focus of Icestravaganza in Davenport, Iowa. The event takes place from January 14–16 this year and features more than 30,000 pounds of ice displays inside LeClaire Park. You can walk through the sculptures, or to stay warm, this year you are able to drive through the viewing area. Most of the creations are of zoo animals, including lions and tigers. There’s also an ice carving demonstration, hot chocolate tent, local vendors, and local beers and food available. Not all of those attractions are open all of the time, so be sure to check the calendar of events before you go.
Winterlude — Ottawa, Canada
Canadian culture comes to life during the first 3 weekends in February during Ottawa’s Winterlude. The free festival includes a large snow playground called Snow Kingdom and features ice sculptures. You can also lace up and skate the famous Rideau Canal Skateway; it’s named as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Local museums also put on special programs, but be sure to check the entrance costs.
As with any outdoor winter activity, be sure to dress warm and take breaks inside heated areas when needed. Since the vast majority of events take place outside during the winter months when weather can be harsh, it’s always best to check in with the event before you go to make sure everything is still running!
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