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Category Archives: Events & Activities

A Special Grinchmas Musical

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grinch-musical-logoIf you love the movie, How The Grinch Stole Christmas, then I’m sure you’ll be as excited as I was to learn about this musical production! Max the dog, Cindy Lou Who, and the green man himself will be on stage delivering a heartwarming performance the whole family will enjoy.

The talented troupe of Whos brings Dr. Seuss’ classic holiday tale to life with joyous music. Amidst the lineup of merry tunes, you can expect to hear some favorites, such as “Welcome Christmas” and “You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch.” This grand production of How the Grinch Stole Christmas will leave you filled with the Christmas spirit! Here’s a little taste of what you’ll see:



To catch a show near you, take a peek at the list below. And, if you live near Nashville, TN, you’re in luck because the musical will be performing at Opryland all season long!

Nashville, TN

Grand Ole Opry
November 18–December 25
For tickets and information, click here.
Want to have breakfast with the Grinch? Get the details here.

New Orleans, LA

Saenger Performing Arts Center
November 22–27
For tickets and information, click here.

Durham, NC

Durham Performing Arts Center
November 29–December 4
For tickets and information, click here.

Cleveland, OH

Playhouse Square
December 6–11
For tickets and information, click here.

Washington, D.C.

National Theatre
December 13–31
For tickets and information, click here.

Can’t attend a local show, but want to experience the magic of the musical? Get the Dr. Seuss’ How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical soundtrack on iTunes or Amazon.

grinch-musical

Take a Moment to Paws This Holiday Season

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The holiday season is always so fun, but it can also be stressful, especially if you are travelling. Well, I have some good news… If you live in the USA and are flying today, you may come across some furry friends at the airport! United Paws—a program from United Airlines designed to delight customers—will once again be bringing professionally trained comfort dogs to airports. United added more airports to the list this year, and doggies will be at Chicago-O’Hare, Cleveland, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Newark, and Washington-Dulles. Puppies at the airport!? That would certainly delight this airline customer!

This video is from earlier in the week, hence why it says “tomorrow.”

Not only are dogs adorable, but science shows that petting a dog is actually good for you. Veterinary Consultant Dr. Walter Woolf said, “United Paws is a wonderful program that comes at just the right time for some holiday travelers who may be experiencing a bit of anxiety or stress… Research shows that just petting a dog releases oxytocin, the hormone associated with bonding and affection, and also decreases levels of stress, helps us breathe easier, and lowers our blood pressure.” I have a basset hound myself, and I can personally attest to the fact that being around a dog definitely makes you feel better 😀 This news clip shows that other travellers agree:

So if you are flying out of or have a layover in ORD, CLE, DEN, IAH, LAX, EWR, or IAD today, de-stress before take-off by petting a four-legged pal. Maybe you’ll even get a smooch from a sweet pup!

And if this act of holiday kindness wasn’t enough, United Airlines is also holding a contest where the winner will receive two round trip tickets. To enter, share a photo on Instagram or Twitter of your dog with a United Airlines logo or in a travel setting, tag @United, and include the hashtags #UnitedPaws and #UnitedContest. For every picture that is shared, United will donate $1 to support therapy dog organizations. [See official rules here.]

Dogs, air travel, and Christmas cheer… three of my favourite things combined into one holiday happening! 😀

Go for a Spin at a Pop-Up Rink Near You

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It’s that time of year when ice rinks are popping up all around. We’ve hand-picked a few popular ones to highlight today that are located in large cities. As one might expect, most of these pop-up rinks charge admission, but some lucky souls can get in for free! So round up your troupe, gather your friends, or grab your honey’s hand and head to over to pop-up ice rink near you for some festive fun.

The Rink at Park Tavern – Atlanta, GA

The Rink at Park Tavern - Atlanta, GA
In midtown Atlanta, the ice rink at Park Tavern is a go-to spot for a gliding-good time. The rink is fully enclosed and temperature regulated, so it’s heated—or air-conditioned if Atlanta’s experiencing warm winter weather. While skating, you can enjoy music that plays over the speakers, and when you need to rest your feet, have a seat at a table and gulp down some hot chocolate. The last day to skate is February 15, 2016, so get your tickets today. They are available to purchase here.

The Rink at Park Tavern
500 10th St NE
Atlanta, GA 30309
404-249-0001

Admission: $15–$20
Skate Rental: Included!
Hours, Monday–Friday: 4:30pm–12am*
Hours, Saturday & Sunday: 11:30am–12am*
*Adults only: 8:30pm–12am

Ice Skating on the Plaza – Austin, TX

Ice Skating on the Plaza - Austin, TX
Well, this is something I’ve never heard of before—skating on a roof! Yup, that’s right, at a Whole Foods store in Austin, Texas you can skate on the top of a building! Sounds intriguing, doesn’t it? If you live within driving distance of Austin, head on over to the Plaza and take your turn spinning around this rooftop rink.

Know this before you go: Friday nights and weekends are always open to the public, but weekdays may be booked for a private event. To confirm that a weekday is open to the public, call Guest Services at this store.

Ice Skating on the Plaza
525 N Lamar Blvd
Austin, TX 78703
512-542-2200

Admission: $10
Skate Rental: Included!
Hours: 10am–9pm

Union Square Ice Rink – San Francisco, CA

Union Square Ice Rink - San Francisco, CA
In the heart of San Francisco, you can find a pop-up rink in Union Square. One unique feature about this rink is that they have a mobile app, so tech-savvy skaters can jump in the “virtual queue” instead of waiting in line. I’m sure you’ll enjoy spending that time scouting out some hot chocolate in the square!

While the rink is open now until January 18, 2016, you may want to go ahead and buy your tickets online as certain times are already sold out.

Union Square Ice Rink
333 Post St
San Francisco, CA 94108
415-781-2688

Adult Admission: $11
Children Admission: $7
Skate Rental: $6 (On Wednesdays, rent your skates for free, thanks to Bank of the West!)
Hours: 10am–11:30pm (Closes at 9:30pm on December 31st.)

Southwest Rink at Skyline Park – Denver, CO

Skyline Park Ice Rink - Denver, CO
Skating at Skyline Park is free—yippee! And, renting a pair of skates is only $2, or free if you’re a student (just show your MY Denver Card). With rates like this, it’s the perfect opportunity to come out again and again all winter long. Since the rink is open until February 15, 2016, there’s no rush to cram in your skate sessions before Christmas. 😉

Southwest Rink at Skyline Park
16th St & Arapahoe St
Denver, CO 80202
303-825-6787

Admission: Free!
Skate Rental: $2
Hours: Varies by day. Click here for details.

Winter Village at Bryant Park – New York, NY

Winter Village at Bryant Park - New York, NY
Photo Credit: Chris Huggins. License: CC by 2.0

The Winter Village at Bryant Park is the only rink in New York that offers free admission! Since there’s no fee, it’s an inexpensive way to entertain all your relatives who are visiting. Or if you work nearby, you can pop over for a quick twirl on the ice during your lunch break! With the rink being open until March 6, 2016 you’ve got plenty of time schedule a slippin’ good time!

Winter Village at Bryant Park
Located in Midtown Manhattan between 40th & 42nd Streets
and Fifth & Sixth Avenues
New York, NY 10018
212-661-8870

Admission: Free!
Skate Rental: $15–$19
Hours: 8am–10pm

Ice Rink Canary Wharf – London, UK

Ice Rink Canary Wharf
For our British friends, plan on visiting the ice rink at Canary Wharf. It is home to London’s only skate path and can proudly say it’s one of the city’s largest rinks. The trees surrounding the area are beautifully lit with fairy lights which add to the magical holiday feel. If you’d rather watch the icy action from the sidelines, you can make yourself comfy on the viewing terrace. The rink is open until February 27, 2016.

Ice Rink Canary Wharf
Canada Square Park
Canary Wharf
E14 5AB
London
08456 531 431

Adult Admission: £14.95
Child Admission: £9.95
Skate Rental: Included!
Hours: Varies. See here for details.

Swimming in a Water Wonderland

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This holiday season, you can see ol’ Saint Nick dive into the deep and swim with the fishies at an aquarium near you. We’ve hand-picked a few locations around North America, but he may be making additional appearances, so contact an aquarium in your area to see if they are expecting Scuba Santa this Yuletide!

Birch Aquarium – La Jolla, CA

Birch Aquarium - La Jolla, CA

Scuba Santa will be visiting west coast folks when he makes a splash at the Kelp Tank Dive Shows at the Birch Aquarium. Not only can you seize the opportunity to see Scuba Santa, but your kids can also make a holiday craft on weekends. Here are the dates and times you can see the jolly old man from December 2, 2015–January 3, 2016: Tuesdays & Thursdays at 12:30pm; Saturdays at 2pm; Sundays at 10:30am. (Closed on December 25th.)

Birch Aquarium
2300 Expedition Way
La Jolla, California 92037
858-534-3474

Georgia Aquarium – Atlanta, GA

If you live in North Georgia, consider driving to Atlanta to see Scuba Claus at the Georgia Aquarium. Kids can catch a glimpse of Scuba Claus plunging into the largest aquatic habitat in the world during the 12:00pm and 12:30pm dive shows, Thursday through Sunday from now until Christmas. Hang around for a chance to talk to Scuba Claus on the “dry side” in the Ocean Voyager Theater.

Georgia Aquarium
225 Baker Street NW
Atlanta, GA 30313
404-581-4000

Newport Aquarium – Newport, KY

Newport, KY - Water Wonderland with Scuba Claus

Scuba Santa will be enchanting folks who visit the Newport Aquarium this month. Whether you live in Newport or across the river in Cincinnati, plan a family trip to see Scuba Santa. The undersea festivities include Scuba Santa’s magic bubbles, dancing lights, and cheery holiday music. After Scuba Santa’s swim, children will have a chance to meet him in person and tell the big guy their Christmas wish. Enjoy this magical experience daily from 11am–4pm (except on 12/25).

Newport Aquarium
One Aquarium Way
Newport, KY 41071
800-406-3474

South Carolina Aquarium – Charleston, SC

South Carolina Aquarium
Photo Credit: christmasincharleston.com

Scuba Claus will be taking a plunge into the Great Ocean Tank at the South Carolina Aquarium on select dates this month. He’ll be there from 11:00am–3:00pm on December 12–13 and 19–23, so plan a visit to watch him swim with the sea creatures. You might even see whether his belly jiggles like jelly underwater! 😉 There will be lots of other fun family activities, too; contact the aquarium for more details.

South Carolina Aquarium
100 Aquarium Wharf
Charleston, SC 29401
800-722-6455

Vancouver Aquarium – Vancouver, British Columbia

Vancouver Aquarium

Scuba Claus is visiting the Vancouver Aquarium every day until December 24th. He’ll be swimming through the Straight of Georgia exhibit, so you might see him swimming with belugas, halibut, sturgeon, or starfish. There’s also a possibility he will plunge into other galleries, so keep your peepers open as you stroll through the aquarium! Scuba Claus will be diving daily now until December 24th. Check the Vancouver Aquarium’s schedule for more information to plan your visit.

Vancouver Aquarium
845 Avison Way
Vancouver, BC
V6G 3E2
604-659-3400

Scuba Claus’ Other Aquarium Visits:

Scuba Claus wants to visit as many places as possible, so after the jump, you’ll find info on a handful of other aquarium appearances he’s making this holiday season.

Ugly Sweater Run

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ugly-sweater-logo2014If you’re looking for a ridiculously fun Christmas activity for the family, why not support a charity at the same time? The Ugly Sweater Run is being held in 18 cities across the nation, and it raises funds and awareness for Save the Children. This year, Save the Children is asking people to make the world better with a sweater. What better way to do that than to don your ugliest, merriest, or wooliest Christmas sweater in a 5K?

On race day, participants will enjoy an array of festivities along the 5K route: a giant inflatable Santa, refreshment stations where you can gulp down hot cocoa (you gotta keep your stamina up, right?), snow machines, and tons of other folks walking alongside you. Perhaps you’ll make a new friend and boldly belt out Christmas songs together! 😉 Oh, and how could I not mention that awesome knit hat? It’s included in your registration, and the only way to get one is by participating in this run.

Who can come to the run?

usr71

The Ugly Sweater Run welcomes participants of all ages! Kids under 5 years are free to attend, but if they want a hat, you’ll need to add it onto your registration. Parents are welcome to bring strollers to push their mini-me’s through the race. Decorated strollers are a plus! Even your furry, four-legged children are welcome to attend the race. (Double-check that the venue in your city allows it.)

Do I have to run?

usr141

Haha—no! You can walk, jog, run, skip, or jump your way through the course. Just be mindful of everyone’s safety. After you get through the course, stick around because they’ll give out prizes for the best mustache, best beard, and ugliest sweater.

How can I register?

volunteer

A few runs are being held this weekend, and the rest will happen later this month. (So sorry to the folks in Pittsburgh, Seattle, and the Twin Cities, but your dates have already passed!) Click on your city below to register. You can register in person at the event, but only if the race hasn’t sold out, so go ahead and sign up online to reserve your spot in the merriest 5K of the season!

How else can I support Save the Children?

Unable to attend The Ugly Sweater Run? You can still make a difference in children’s lives by simply donating to Save the Children online. If you’re aching for a festive experience you can celebrate National Ugly Sweater Day on December 18th. Get your coworkers to wear their ugly Christmas sweaters to the office that day and encourage folks to make a small donation to Save the Children.

STC_TOP1

Christmas Boat Parades

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Unless you live in a town that is located on or near the water, this might be the first time you’ve heard of a Christmas boat parade. Well, a floating fleet of ships is just as festive as many other light shows, and, in my opinion, it’s a bit more impressive that folks rig up their boats with creative light displays! Attending one of these parades would be a jolly good time for the whole family or a date night with your sweetheart. Even if a boat parade is not near you, keep reading to enjoy the pictures!

Newport Beach Christmas Beach Parade – Newport Beach, CA

NewportBeach-1
Photo Credit: christmasparadeboats.com

The Newport Christmas Boat Parade first started in 1907 when a man carried a few folks across the bay in his gondola decorated with Japanese lanterns. Over the last century, the parade has morphed from its humble beginnings into a wildly popular event that draws visitors from all over country. In fact, the New York Times named it “one of the top ten holiday happenings in the nation” in 2002. With over 200 boats and many houses and docks decorated for the occasion, it’s no surprise why this event is such a success!

You can watch the parade from multiple locations around the bay, including various restaurants. Click here for more viewing information. Want to upgrade your experience? You can observe the parade from a yacht; reserve tickets here.

December 16–20, 2015
6:30pm–9:00pm
Admission: Free!
Route map (click to download)

Alexandria Holiday Boat Parade of Lights – Alexandria, VA

Alexandria-1
Photo Credit: visitalexandriava.com

If you live near the Washington, D.C./Alexandria area, you’ll want to make plans to go to the boat parade on the Potomac River. There will be fun festivities for everyone, so bring the whole family! Although the activities vary depending which side of the river you’re on, both sides will have live music, photos with Santa, and a brilliant display of lights. For more details of this event, check out the Facebook page.

Saturday, December 5, 2015
5:00pm–8:00pm
Admission: Free!

San Diego Parade of Lights – San Diego, CA

SanDiego-1

The residents of San Diego will enjoy yet another dashing display of Christmas lights in this year’s Parade of Lights. The 2015 theme is “Christmas Around The World,” and I’m sure it will be an impressive sight to behold! Spectators who want to learn tidbits of info about the participating boats can camp out near an announcers’ area. (The two announcers’ areas are located at Coronado Landing and Maritime Museum on the Embarcadero.)

Sunday, December 13 and Sunday, December 20, 2015
5:30pm–7:30pm
Admission: Free!
Route map (click to view)

Christmas Ships Parade – Portland, OR

Portland-1

The Christmas Ships Parade in Portland is not just a single parade, but a series of parades! For 15 nights in December, dedicated skippers sail their boats up and down the Columbia River and Willamette River. The parade routes vary by date and by river, so be sure to check the schedule(s) ahead of time to plan your outing.

December 4–20, 2015 (No parade on the 6th or 14th.)
Start times vary by date and location
Admission: Free!

Columbia River

  • View the full schedule here.
  • Download the printable guide here.

Willamette River

  • View the full schedule here.
  • Download the printable guide here.

Venice Christmas Boat Parade – Venice, FL

Venice_FL-1
The first ever
Venice Christmas Boat Parade hit the Intracoastal Waterway in 1989 with a showing of 41 boats. Now, over thirty years later, the Venice tradition still delights the community with its glowing procession of decorated vessels. In the spirit of giving, the Venice Christmas Boat Parade, along with its sponsors, benefits boating activities for youth and funds a marine sciences scholarship!

Saturday, December 5, 2015
6:00pm
Admission: Free!
Route map (click to view)

Holiday Indie Craft Fairs

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Whether you’re simply wanting to attend a holiday event or you need to finish up your Christmas shopping, indie craft markets are always an enjoyable time. These fairs feature vendors selling all sorts of handmade wares—everything from stationery to ceramics to edible treats and more. Many of these events include other fun bits, such as DIY workshops, giveaways, food trucks, and music from DJs.

Below I’ve highlighted a few of these merry markets, but if you have a favourite local indie craft fair in your area, let me know in the comments!

Handmade Arcade – Pittsburgh, PA

Founded over a decade ago, Handmade Arcade is an award-winning craft fair that features dozens of makers selling everything from jewelry to ‘zines to robots. If you’re inspired by all the products, you can also get crafty yourself at Hands-on Handmade, a variety of two-hour, half-day, or day-long creative activities. And while you’re at this fair, don’t forget to pick up a copy of Things Making Things: A DIY Colouring Book.

Handmade Arcade
David L. Lawrence Convention Centre
1000 Fort Duquesne Blvd

Saturday, 5 December
11am–7pm
Admission: Free!

Etsy Made Local – London

Meet British makers at Etsy Made Local, which lasts all weekend long. At this event, you can sip coffee while you browse the wares from 50+ artisans, have gifts personalized on the spot, and amp up your gift wrap skills at the Wrapping Station. Not in London? Not to worry! Etsy Made Local is also coming to several other cities, such as Cardiff, Glasgow, and Birmingham. Simply visit here and scroll a little bit down the page for information on the other markets around the UK this weekend.

Etsy Made Local
The Vinyl Factory, Soho
51 Poland Street
London W1F 7LZ
[Nearest tube is Piccadilly Circus or Oxford Street.]

Friday, 4 December: 4–7pm
Saturday, 5 December: 10am–8pm
Sunday, 6 December: 11am–6pm
Admission: Free!

Urban Craft Uprising Winter Show – Seattle, WA

Urban Craft Uprising is Seattle’s largest indie craft show, and it has been going on for 11 years now. This fair features over 150 vendors selling all kinds of goodies, such as housewares, food, candles, furniture, and loads more.

The first 100 attendees on each day will receive a swag bag full of surprises from some of the vendors and sponsors. There are also crafty book signings and artist demonstrations. This sounds like a fantastic event, and I love Urban Craft Uprising’s manifesto:

Urban Craft Uprising Winter Show
Seattle Centre Exhibition Hall
305 Harrison Street

Saturday, 5 December: 10am–6pm
Sunday, 6 December: 10am–5pm
Admission: Free!

Holiday Renegade Craft Fair – Chicago, IL

If you’re in Chicago, head over to the Holiday Renegade Craft Fair this weekend where you can purchase handmade goods from any of 250 vendors, participate in hands-on workshops, or eat local fare while listening to a DJ. To add to the fun, there will be a photo booth, DIY sugar scrub bar, hand-drawn portraits, and face painting! Before you head out to the market, make sure to enter the giveaway on Time Out Chicago’s website for your chance to win an amazing prize package valued at more than $2,000.

Holiday Renegade Craft Fair
Bridgeport Art Centre
1200 W. 35th Street

Saturday, 5 December: 11am–6pm
Sunday, 6 December: 11am–6pm
Admission: Free!

Scoutmob’s Holiday Makers Market – Atlanta, GA

A unique take on your typical December bazaar, Scoutmob’s Holiday Makers Market is a craft fair/Christmas party mash-up. This event includes 25 local makers, live music, artist demos, and DIY workshops. If that wasn’t enough, with admission, you’ll also receive an Old Fashioned, tasty small plates, and a gift bag! This shindig would make a festive and fun date where you and your sweetie could peruse leather goods, glass & film ornaments, ginger treats, and other intriguing items while sipping a handcrafted cocktail.

Scoutmob’s Holiday Makers Market
Strongbox West
1040 West Marietta Street

Friday, 18 December
7–10pm
Admission: $19

Additional Craft Fairs

While I would love to feature all of the indie Christmas craft markets, I have to get back to my other elfy duties. But, since I really just can’t help myself, after the jump you’ll find info on just a few more craft fairs happening this month.

#OptOutside This Friday

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#OptOutside This Friday

This Friday REI, the outdoor recreation and sporting goods retailer, is doing something rather extraordinary. Instead of participating in Black Friday, they are closing all of their stores and paying their 12,000+ employees to spend time outside, and they are inviting everyone else to join them. While some folks probably can’t imagine a store not being open on the biggest shopping day of the year, this campaign [appropriately called #OptOutside] fits quite well with REI’s belief that “a life outside is a life well-lived,” and I can definitely appreciate them practicing what they preach!

In the midst of holiday busyness, taking some time to go explore the great outdoors sounds like a fantastic idea. All of us could benefit from pausing and enjoying the beauty of nature—whether it’s a snowy mountain, scenic state park, metropolitan botanical garden, or your favourite campground.

Some parks in the USA are even offering special discounts and events to help encourage people to #OptOutside this Friday. Here are just a few of the participating park systems:

For a list of additional park systems, organizations, and companies that have partnered with REI on this campaign, please visit REI’s website. Or, go here to find places to have fun skiing, hiking, cycling, or paddling. You can also check out the hashtag #OptOutside on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram to see how others are spending their Friday out in the fresh air!

Personally, I plan to #OptOutside on Black Friday by exploring a marsh and a beach with my fiancé and my dog. How will you be spending the day? Will you be fighting the crowds at the mall? Hiking with your children at a state park? Sleeping in late and then putting up your Christmas tree? Going for a run around a lake? Let us know in the comments!

Kindling Spirits with the Singing Christmas Tree

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Portland Singing Christmas Tree
Photo Credit: singingchristmastree.org

Ready to kick off the holiday season? If you live near Portland, Oregon, the Singing Christmas Tree is a great way to do so! This unforgettable theatrical production is 53 years in the making. It all began in 1962 with just a single show and has grown into an annual Portland tradition with multiple performances. Make it a date with someone special on a Saturday evening or catch an afternoon matinee with the whole family. Comprised of hundreds of local singers, dancers, actors, and a live orchestra, the Singing Christmas Tree is sure to be an experience that kindles the Christmas spirit in the hearts of all who attend. To find out more information about the performances and to get tickets, go here.

2015 Performance Dates:

  • Saturday, November 28th – 11:00am, 3:30pm, 7:30pm
  • Sunday, November 29th – 2:30pm
  • Thursday, December 3rd – 7:30pm
  • Friday, December 4th – 7:30pm
  • Saturday, December 5th – 11:00am, 3:30pm, 7:30pm
  • Sunday, December 6th – 2:30pm

Want to support the Singing Christmas Tree, but can’t attend any of the performances? Consider making a donation to help it come to life next year! Click here for more information.

Harbin International Snow & Ice Festival

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One thing I look forward to in the winter months is the snow! In my younger days I had lots of fun building snowmen, making snow angels, and sledding down hills. While I still do enjoy these activities, nowadays I prefer to admire amazing ice sculptures and snow creations made by skilled snow artists. There are many ice sculpture competitions held throughout the world, but the largest one is in Harbin, China.

Photo Credit: harbinice.com

The Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival is an annual tradition that began in 1963. The festival has grown and evolved over the years and now attracts thousands of people every year.

In this icy metropolis you will see stunning sculptures and amazing buildings built from blocks of ice. Colorful lights are used throughout the festival, illuminating the frozen monuments which creates a spectacular sight!

Photo credit: harbinice.com

The festival also includes other activities such as skiing, a lantern show, and swimming in the frigid Songua River. If you prefer a less intense activity, take a ride down the giant ice slide! Weeeeeee!

Photo credit: harbinice.com

The 2015 festival begins on January 5 and continues through February. To learn more about the festival or to see more amazing pictures, check out their website.

Photo credit: harbinice.com
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