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An ice castle part of a community winter celebration. Detroit
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The best winter festivals in the US to see ice do magical things

Have an ice day at these fun, frozen winter festivals in the US.

Written by
Lauren Mack
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This winter, it's time to chill. Celebrate frigid temperatures with frosty fun in the form of snow and ice. From castles formed from icicles to slides made of blocks of ice to sinuous sculptures handmade from snow, parks and city centers across the US are hosting the most epic snow and ice winter festivals in the US. 

From mounds of powdery white snow typically used for skiing reshaped into snow sculptures at the International Snow Sculpture Championships in Breckenridge, Colorado to 4,100-pound clear blocks of ice hand carved and chiseled into awesome ice art at the World Ice Art Championship in Fairbanks, Alaska, check out the most spectacular ice and snow festivals in the US this year.

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Best winter festivals in the US

Master ice sculptors from Harbin, China, home of the famed International Harbin Ice and Snow Festival, spend weeks chipping away at 2 million pounds of ice to create an icy wonderland inside the Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center near Orlando, Florida. Get bundled up in a blue parka and enter ICE!, a 20,000-square-foot space kept at a chilly 9 degrees Fahrenheit to see the story of Dr Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! depicted in ice. The icy attraction includes ice slides, brightly colored ice sculptures, and holiday activities like a Cirque-styled Christmas show, feast with The Grinch character breakfast, and photos with Santa. ICE!

Runs Nov. 18, 2022 to Jan. 1, 2023

Since 2003, White Pine County has hosted a winter festival of arts and athletics during the third weekend in January. During the Fire and Ice Winter Festival, teams have nearly three days to handcraft ice sculptures in Veteran's Park. Festivities include community art, ice bowling, ice horseshoes, and ice disc golf tournaments, and ski, snowshow and fat bike races. Highlights are the ice sculptures and a fireworks train.

The Fire and Ice Winter Festival runs Jan. 13-15, 2023

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Ice Castles is an ephemeral frozen attraction that annually pops up across the country in Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Utah and Wisconsin. Hundreds of thousands of icicles are used to create LED-lit sculptures, frozen thrones, ice-carved tunnels, ice slides, ice mazes, and fountains. Most locations offer festive sleigh rides through a scenic trail that leads to the castle. Ice Castles are built in five locations and typically open in Jan. and remain open until late Feb. or early March, depending on the weather. At the time of writing, the 2023 dates have not been announced yet. These are the five locations from 2022 and by all indications on the website, they will remain the same.

Sanctioned by the International Association of Ice and Snow Sculpture, the World Snow Sculpting Championships hosts snow sculpture teams from around the world. Each team creates an elaborate snow sculpture in Lowell Park and the winner is crowned world champion. The festivities include snow sculptures, a wild rice cookoff, and the world's 'coolest' block party.

The World Snow Sculpting Championships runs Jan. 18-23, 2023.

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For more than three decades, Zehnder’s Snowfest has been hosting a winter festival featuring snow sculptures and intricate ice carvings made from single and double blocks of ice. Professionals, college students, and high school students compete in separate snow sculpture contests and college students compete in an ice carving contest. Zehnder’s Snowfest also includes a petting zoo, fireworks, and a 100-block ice carving exhibition.

The 32nd annual Zehnder’s Snowfest runs Jan. 25-29, 2023.

The 10th annual Meltdown Winter Ice Festival features the creations of ice carvers and artists who transform 20,000 pounds of ice into intricate ice sculptures. During the winter weekend, ice sculptures are placed throughout the city center. The highlight of the event is the Meltdown Throwdown where ice carvers battle in front of a live audience. Festival fun includes a scavenger hunt, a photography show featuring photos from past Meltdowns, and open carvings to watch master ice artists at work.

The Meltdown Winter Ice Festival is held during the last weekend in January.

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For more than three decades, teams of snow sculptors have come to Breckenridge, Colorado for the International Snow Sculpture Championships. Each four-person team has five days to transform — by hand — 25-ton snow blocks into works of snow art. The result is a temporary snow art gallery in downtown Breckenridge.

The 33rd annual International Snow Sculpture Championships are run Jan. 27 to Feb. 1, 2023.

Held annually in February, the Snow Daze Festival is a day-long winter festival notable for its intricate ice sculptures placed in front of restaurants, shops, and businesses throughout downtown Kenosha, Wisconsin, which is less than 60 miles from Chicago. After viewing the ice creations, revelers can glide across ice at the 32ft by 60ft outdoor ice rink at Veterans Memorial Park.

The Snow Daze Festival is Feb. 4, 2023.

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Since 1990, the World ICE Association has hosted an annual ice sculpting competition in Fairbanks, Alaska. The World Ice Art Championship has grown from a one-week event hosting eight teams to a month-long event hosting 70 teams who compete in five competitive events: single block, double block, and multiple block. Local school children compete in the youth classic carving a sculpture from one 1800 pound block of ice. There is also an amateur open for anyone who wants to give ice carving a try.

The World Ice Art Championship is held annually from mid-February to mid-March.

The Lititz Fire and Ice Festival is a 10-day celebration of all things fire and ice. Restaurants and bars get fired up with festival foods and drinks while festival-goers stroll through town to admire elaborate ice sculptures on Main Street, Broad Street, Juniper Lane, and at the entrance to Lititz Springs Park. A maker's market featuring local arts and crafts, a Winter Funderland of children's activities, and a photography exhibition round out the festival's offerings.

The Lititz Fire and Ice Festival runs Feb. 17-26, 2023.

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