4 Breathtaking Ice and Snow Festivals in Asia to Visit This Winter

Ice and Snow Festivals in Asia

Europe may have cornered the Christmas market (so to speak) and may lead the way when it comes to spots to view the northern lights, however it may surprise you that Asia is home to some stunning ice and snow festivals during the winter. Escape the crowds of tourists this holiday season and make your way to Asia to take advantage of the winter wonderland.

Here are 4 brilliant ice and snow festivals across Asia to complete your winter this year:

#1. Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival in Hwacheon County, Gangwon-do, Korea

Snow sculpture at Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival
Snow Sculpture at Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival (image via Christopher John SSF, flickr)
Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival is held in Hwacheon County, Gangwon-do annually. Hwacheon is known to be the first region in Korea to freeze over in winter so you can catch a  glimpse of rivers covered with a thick layer of ice.  While the main draw is the awe-inspiring Ice Sculpture Square, tourists can also wander around the scenic Winter Village.
Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival
Trout Fishing at Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival (image via @beach_stu, Instagram)
Try fishing for trout with your bare hands in a pool or experience ice fishing through the frozen river. Take advantage of winter activities like sleigh rides during the Hwacheon Sancheoneo Ice Festival for a truly magical winter wonderland holiday.
Schedule: January 5, 2019 – January 27, 2019
How to Get There: 
From Dong Seoul Bus Terminal, take an intercity bus to Hwacheon.
Hwacheon Stream and the festival grounds are about 10-min walk from the bus terminal.

#2. Lake Khuvsgul Ice Festival at Khovsgol Lake, Mongolia

Khuvsgul Lake, Mongolia
Khuvsgul Lake, Mongolia (image via @worldnomads, Instagram)
Lake Khuvsgul Ice Festival is held on Mongolia’s largest lake (Khuvsgul Lake) and features a series of exciting activities such as tug-of-war matches and horse-drawn sleigh races. The festival occurs every year in March over two days, on the shores of this stunning destination.
Kuvsgul Lake, Mongolia
Khuvsgul Lake, Mongolia (image via @the_katsaway, Instagram)
Marvel at detailed ice sculptures, skate along the deeply frozen lake or experience an ‘Ice Sumo’ competition! For those seeking history and culture, the festival also features a shamanist ceremony where travelers can learn moe about the local Tsaatan people’s way of life.
Schedule: first week of March, annually (exact dates change each year)

#3. Harbin Ice & Snow Sculpture Festival in Harbin, Heilongjiang, China

Snow Sphinx at Harbin Ice & Snow Sculpture Festival
Snow Sphinx at Harbin Ice & Snow Sculpture Festival (image via La Priz, flickr)
Known to be the biggest, and the best snow and ice festival in the world, Harbin Ice & Snow Sculpture Festival will not disappoint. The world’s biggest ice sculptures can be found at this winter festival. The festival runs for a month, starting on January 5th.The festival boasts two main exhibition areas: Sun Island and Ice and Snow World.
Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival
Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival (image via Brian Jeffery Beggerly, flickr)
Sun Island features gigantic snow structures which create a miniature city that lights up in a technicolor glow after the sun sets. In Ice and Snow World, you can fin full size buildings made from blocks of 2–3′ thick ice taken directly from the Songhua River. Coupled with winter exhibitions such as ice lantern art fair and international snow sculptures expo, Harbin Ice & Snow Sculpture Festival would complete your winter in China.
Schedule: January 5th (runs for one month)

#4. Sapporo Snow Festival in Sapporo, Japan

Sapporo Snow Festival
Sapporo Snow Festival (image via SteFou!, flickr)
Sapporo Snow Festival was first held in 1950, and since it’s inception, it has grown to include masterfully created ice and snow sculptures stretching approximately 1.5 kilometres through Odori Park.
Sapporo Snow Festival
Sapporo Snow Festival
There are three areas within the festival: Odori, Tsudome, Susukino.  Be awed as beautiful ice and snow sculptures light up at night, illuminating the darkness. In Tsudome, delight in a snow slide and snowcrafting area (perfect for families). With activities catering for both the young and old at Sapporo Snow Festival, your holiday to Japan during winter isn’t completed till you pay this festival a visit.
Schedule: January 31 2019 – February 11, 2019

Take advantage of the winter wonderland that falls across Asia during the holidays and book a trip to experience one of these incredible destinations.


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