If you've never witnessed the beauty of a soft white blanket of freshly fallen snow, it may very well be time to book a winter getaway. Luckily the first flurries are about to fly for our friends to the north, which means 'tis the season for festivals that celebrate those delicate frozen flakes.
Counting down the best snow and ice festivals around the world, these enchanting events will have you swapping boardies and thongs for down coats and mittens in no time!
Sapporo Snow Festival
Hokkaido, Japan from 5-11 February 2016
Paying tribute to the sparkling white flakes of winter, the Sapporo Snow Festival has been a staple of the yuletide season since 1950. Today it attracts more than 2 million visitors with masterfully created snow and ice sculpture displays running approximately 1.5 kilometres through Odori Park. For a little extra dose of fun, the statues are lit up at night.
Kiruna Snow Festival
Kiruna, Sweden from 20-24 January 2016
With the cooler months comes the Kiruna Snow Festival in Sweden. This annual event is a popular family affair with activities to keep all ages entertained. Meander through the many snow sculptures on show before checking out the handicraft fair, outdoor theatre for kids, dog sledding and the world's only snowblower race! You may even be treated to a dazzling display of the Northern Lights.
Ice on Whyte Festival
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada from 21-21 & 28-31 January 2016
International Snow Sculpture Championships
Breckenridge, Colorado, United States from 18 January - 7 February 2016
Quebec Winter Carnival
Quebec, Canada from 29 January - 14 February 2016
BP World Ice Art Championships
Fairbank, Alaska, United States from 29 February - 27 March 2016
Those that appreciate the fine art of turning a block of ice into an iridescent masterpiece should get to Fairbank, Alaska for winter. More than 100 ice carving teams from around the globe congregate for a month long event that showcases this rare skill. There are single and multi-block competitions as well as the Fairbanks Open, which allows amateurs chip away next to the experts.
Ice Music Festival
Geilo, Norway from 21-24 January 2016
Ice Magic Festival
Lake Louise, Banff, Canada from 15-34 January 2016
Harbin International Ice & Snow Sculpture Festival
Harbin, China from 5 January - 25 February
Last but definitely not least, the Harbin International Ice & Snow Sculpture Festival is considered by many to be the biggest and the best. It is, in fact, the largest in the world after all. With roots dating back to 1963 as a lantern and garden party, this snow fest is all about the white stuff now.
Gigantic structures are created out of snow and lit up to create a miniature city that lights up in a technicolour glow through the evening hours. Along with the ice and snow world, visitors can experience international snow sculpture expos, the ice lantern art fair, winter swimming watching, ice hotels, dog sledding and much more.