Harbin Ice Festival, China
Hibernating is not an option in the frosted reaches of northeast China, where brisk Siberian winds keep the average winter temperatures in Harbin barely above zero degrees Fahrenheit. Hardy local artisans in the Russian-influenced "Ice City" celebrate the season by sculpting ice blocks chopped from the Songhua River into colossal crystalline pyramids and palaces, whimsical dragons and fairies, and frozen slides worthy of a water park. The monthlong Harbin Ice and Snow Festival (beginning January 5), showcases the frosty craftsmanship of local carvers and international teams and includes a Snow Sculpture Expo at Sun Island recreational area and the Ice Lantern Garden Party at Zhaolin Park. Daylight activities include figure skating, ice boxing competitions, and, for the daring, a polar plunge into an ice-free section of the frigid Songhua. After dark, bundle up to see the festival’s illuminated ice displays dazzle neon bright against the night sky. Harbin is accessible via train or plane from Beijing or Shanghai.