After days of meticulous research, we’ve come to the surprising conclusion that Vanilla Ice, the magnanimous purveyor of fresh rhymes and blond 90s hairdos, has never had a festival in his name. Saddening news, but at least actual ice, that hard stuff that’s made from water, is celebrated all over the place. People seem to love it, and not just because it goes very fetchingly with their gin and tonic.
Here are some cool ice festivals from around the world, in helpful chronological order.
Harbin, China: until February 28
Already under way, Ice Festival Harbin is the biggest in cold water celebration in the world and holds the record for the largest single ice sculpture in the world (250 metres long!).
Most popular is the recreation of world landmarks using ice, with everything spectacularly illuminated. There’s a number of sporting events too if you need a distraction from the frozen stuff.
London, England: January 10–12
The London Ice Sculpting Festival is three days of no-nonsense hardcore ice manipulation.
Much like the ice, the competition is stiff, with this year’s themes River Life and Fabulous Fashion ready to bring out some serious creativity.
The whole event is free to visit and close to the famous Canary Wharf skyscraper.
Geilo, Norway: January 16–19
For something truly special, head over to the Ice Music Festival in Geilo in Norway where the viewing of icy curiosities will be given a unique musical aspect for the ninth year running.
The ice is used as part of all the musical performances in mind-bending ways, and 2014 will include an entire orchestra of ice performing at once.
Michigan, USA: January 30-February 2
The Michigan Ice Fest is for the hardcore ice lovers, the ones who want to climb over it in daredevil fashion.
The area of the festival is covered in famous waterfalls that are in the middle of a frozen period, and participants spend the three days of the festival climbing all over them.
The sight of people clambering over these static natural wonders is mesmerising, but only experienced climbers should attempt the activities.
Sapporo, Japan: February 5–11
2014 is the 65th year of the Sapporo Snow Festival, a festival of sculptures that attracts millions of spectators each year.
The carved creations are plotted in various places concentrated around three main areas, creating a wondrous sense of discovery and surprise as you walk around downtown Sapporo.
Quebec, Canada: February 7-16
Canada’s top ice sculpting competition is part of the Quebec Winter Festival, which includes concerts, firework displays and events such as the “snowbath” – where people roll around in their underpants in the snow. There’s also a race across a frozen river. Canadians, eh?
Fairbanks, Alaska: February 24-March 30
The coldest US state unsurprisingly has a month-long ice festival grandly called the World Ice Art Championships.
Competitions are divided into youth events, amateur throw-ins and also by the number of blocks used. Away from the battling, there’s an entire adventure playground made from ice for bold kids to tumble around.
And finally … New Zealand: September 27-October 12
If you like planning far ahead, how about the hippest brand-new ice festival later this year? Famous for icy treats such as the Franz Josef Glacier, New Zealand will host a fortnight of events celebrating the country’s position as the gateway to Antarctica. Events centre around the city of Christchurch and include loads of interactive science exhibitions as well as ice-related fun. Check out the website for more details.
(Featured image: wwarby)