Fire & Ice Festival at Facebook
Fire & Ice Festival at Facebook

10 January Ice and Snow Festivals

Fire & Ice Festival at Facebook
Fire & Ice Festival at Facebook

The polar vortex that brought frigid temperatures to a big part of the U.S. and Canada this past week may be easing a bit, but it's got cold weather on our minds. We can stay in and weather it out, or we can embrace it, like some northern communities do. Some even have annual festivals in January to celebrate ice, snow, and the charms of winter weather. Let's take a look at a few of them, and just hope that a blizzard doesn't spoil the festivities!

1. Ouray Ice Festival

Photograph by Flickr user katsrcool (Kool Cats Photography).

The 19th annual Ouray Ice Festival takes place today through Sunday at Ouray Ice Park in Ouray, Colorado. The public park has 200 climbing routes made of ice and mixed ice and rock, and is a popular destination for ice climbers, and the festival is a celebration of climbing. It's also a fundraiser for the non-profit park. Events include parties tonight, climbing clinics, films and demonstrations, and climbing competitions.

2. The Big Chill

Photograph by Flickr user jonnyfixedgear.

The Big Chill in Racine, Wisconsin, this weekend is a municipal festival that's also the host of the Wisconsin State Snow Sculpting Championship for the third year. A dozen huge snow sculptures will be constructed in downtown Racine by two-man teams hoping to advance to the national competition. Other events include ice sculpture carving, dogsled rides, and the more common festival activities.

3. Plymouth Ice Festival

Photograph by Flickr user Debra Drummond.

The city of Plymouth, Michigan will hold the annual Plymouth Ice Festival this Friday through Sunday. In addition to the usual festival events, there will be traditional ice carving contests for both individuals and teams, and the dueling chainsaws contest, which is a timed ice-carving contest. The sky will be lit by blazing ice towers on Friday and Saturday nights.

4. Icebox Days

Photograph from International Falls Area Chamber of Commerce.

International Falls, Minnesota, celebrates its reputation as the coldest town in the 48 contiguous states with the Icebox Days winter festival, January 16-19. The marquee event is the annual Freeze Yer Gizzard Blizzard Run with both 5K and 10K runs, no matter what the temperature will be. Don't miss the other events: the ugly hat contest, the moonlight snowshoe hike, the toilet seat toss, turkey bowling, basketball and hockey games, and plenty of food.

5. Hunter Ice Festival

Photograph from Hunter Ice Festival.

The Hunter Ice Festival in Niles, Michigan is named after The Hunter Brothers Ice & Ice Cream Company, which established ice harvesting as the town's big industry around the turn of the 20th century. The festival, which takes place January 17-20, centers around ice sculptures, and the best artists in the craft are invited to Niles to show their stuff. There will also be races, the Ice Ball, and a chili cook-off.

6. Bavarian Icefest

The Bavarian Icefest takes place in Leavenworth, Washington, January 18-19. Events include dogsled rides, the "ice cube scramble" for kids, snow sculptures, ice carving, ice fishing, a snowball toss, a snowmobile sled pull, and smooshing. Smooshing is a sport in which teams of four people ski together on one set of skis.

7. Fire & Ice Festival

Photograph from Fire & Ice on Facebook.

The Fire & Ice Festival in Rochester, Michigan, takes place on the weekend of January 24-26. The fire is provided by fireworks at night; the ice events include tube sledding, snow shoeing, cross country skiing, dog sled rides, ice skating, a broom ball exhibition, and ice sculptures. New this year: a food truck rally. Bring your ice skates for free skating all weekend! More events are listed at the Facebook page.

8. IceFest '14

Photograph from IceFest on Facebook.

Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, presents the 12th annual IceFest from January 30 through February 2. The festival features a 40-foot ice slide, a scavenger hunt, and a "Polar Dunk Plunge." There's also nighttime dancing and dining events for those who like to stay warm, and a chili cook-off and a cake icing competition. The premiere draw will be the over 70 ice sculptures that will be on display throughout the town. Find out more at the festival's Facebook page.

9. Michigan Ice Fest

The Michigan Ice Fest in Munising, Michigan, is a festival centered around ice climbing. This year's event will be held from January 30 through February 2. There will be clinics and classes in the various levels of climbing, from beginners to rescue techniques, and demonstrations and social climbs.

10. Saint Paul Winter Carnival

Photograph by Flickr user politalk_tim.

The Saint Paul Winter Carnival will be 11 days long: January 23 to February 2 in St. Paul, Minnesota (of course). This event kicks off the Carnival season in style. Such a large festival requires three parades, plus the Beer Dabbler, the royalty coronation, ice sculptures, and the usual races, parties, live entertainment, and food.

Carnival season? Oh, you bet there will be more festivals in February. Watch for those coming soon!

11-Headed Buddha Statue to Be Revealed in Japan for First Time in 33 Years

Buddha statues come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. The various poses and hand gestures of the Buddha represent different virtues, and any items he happens to be holding—say, a lotus flower or a bowl—have some religious significance.

But not all Buddha relics are created equal, as evidenced by the reverence paid to one particularly holy statue in Japan. The 11-headed figure is so sacred that it has been hidden away for 33 years—until now. Lonely Planet reports that the Buddha statue will be revealed on April 23 during the Onsen Festival in Kinosaki Onsen, a coastal town along the Sea of Japan that’s famous for its hot springs. The statue is kept inside Onsen-ji Temple, a religious site which dates back to 738 CE.

Al altar inside Onsen-ji temple

Patrick Vierthaler, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

The big Buddha reveal, however, will be held elsewhere. For that, festivalgoers will need to ride a cable car to the top of Mount Taishi, where they’ll catch a glimpse of Juichimen Kanzeon Bosatsu, a name which means “11-faced goddess of compassion and mercy.” It will be hard to miss—at 7 feet tall, the statue would tower over most NBA players. Considered a natural treasure, it’s displayed in three-year blocks once every 33 years. So if you miss the initial reveal, you have until 2021 to catch a glimpse.

“The people of Kinosaki are very excited about this event, especially the younger generation," Jade Nunez, an international relations coordinator for the neighboring city of Toyooka, told Lonely Planet Travel News. "Those who are under 30 years old have never seen the statue in its entirety, so the event is especially important to them."

After paying their respects to the Buddha, festival attendees can take a dip in one of three hot spring bathhouses that will be free to use during the Onsen Festival.

[h/t Lonely Planet]

Miami to Host Inaugural Canine Film Festival

There’s an annual festival dedicated to internet cat videos, so it only makes sense that dog-lovers would create their own film event. As the Miami New-Times reports, the Magic City will host the inaugural Canine Film Festival on July 15 and 16. The fundraising event encourages movie lovers to enjoy submitted flicks with their furry friends.

The festival will take place at the Cinépolis Coconut Grove and Hotel Indigo in Miami Lakes. Festivities kick off on the first day with “A Day at the Movies With Your Dog,” featuring film screenings attended by dogs and humans alike. Other events scheduled throughout the weekend include a dog fashion show, dog yoga, silent auctions, a canine costume contest, an after-party at Miami Lakes' Hotel Indigo, and an awards ceremony.

Admission costs $10 to $1000, and 50 percent of ticket proceeds will benefit local animal rescues and shelters. For more information, visit the Canine Film Festival's website.

[h/t Miami New Times]


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