Today begins the world’s largest ice sculpture festival and you’ll still have plenty of time to get to China. The Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival lasts one month, weather permitting, and is erected throughout the city. There are two main exhibition areas, Sun Island and Ice and Snow World, which is open at night and features full scale buildings made from 2-3′ blocks of ice. The average temperature in that area of northeast China runs approximately 1.8 degrees. You’ll have to dress warm!
Another giant snow festival occurs in Sapporo, Japan, where the festival dates are early February. More than two million people view more than 400 snow statues and ice sculptures at the Odori Park and Susukino sites. The Sapporo Snow Festival began in 1950, but was actually started by high school boys before the war.
Of course, you don’t have to fly across the pond to view an ice festival as there are an abundance of them held yearly in any north area region that receives more than two feet of snow, and no doubt includes one close to you. In North America, Montreal was the first large city to create an “ice palace.” However, the event moved to St. Paul following a smallpox epidemic in 1885. St. Paul held their first Ice Palace exhibition in 1886 and was illuminated with electric lights at night, making this one of their first buildings to have electric lighting.
Much closer to home back in Idaho, McCall will be celebrating their 52nd anniversary at the 2017 McCall Winter Carnival. There are snow sculptures situated throughout the area, some of which may exceed 20′. Food vendors, parades, opening and closing fireworks and other special events are attended by thousands enjoying the snowy event.
Our family enjoyed the festival that ran from the end of January into the first weekend of February, 2011. If you are not a skier, snowboarder, ice fisherman, or any of the many other activities associated with winter, you can still get out and enjoy the season. These sculptures are amazing! Let me know if you have a suggestion for a great winter venue! ©2017 Virginia Williams