Bears may hibernate throughout the winter but children and adults with a child’s imagination and immunity from the cold embrace the activities of winter and join in snow and ice festivals and winter carnivals around the world. There are toboggan and sleigh rides, and the usual snowmen and snowwomen are crafted with sticks for hands and carrots for noses. But you can also find elaborate ice palaces and snow sculptures rival the skills of the summer sand castle builders in engineering prowess. One of these festivals, the Quebec Winter Carnival, celebrates its 51st anniversary this year with seventeen days of activities beginning January 28th. Along with snow sculpture and ice palaces there are sleigh rides, ice fishing, dogsledding, snow rafting, night parades and fireworks. There are activities and entertainment for all ages presided over by the Carnival’s ambassador, Bonhomme, a living snowman who has enchanted the children of Quebec for generations. Children’s events include games and music shows, an ice maze, soapbox derby and an adventure trail. Online, children can find the Carnival’s Polar Zone for games and videos. Check their website for the program, the games and computer wallpapers of ice sculptures and fireworks at http://www.carnaval.qc.ca/
Winter festivals occur all over North America, from Stowe, Vermont to St. Paul, Minnesota to Fairbanks, Alaska, but China’s Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival and Japan’s Sapporo Snow Festival are some of the largest winter events in the world. Celebrating its 21st festival season, Harbin, nicknamed the city of ice and snow, invites all to see the “Thousands of exquisitely-made ice lanterns, ice carvings and snow sculptures [that] grace the snow-covered parks, public squares and major streets, turning        the city into a dreamlike world of pure whiteness and gleaming crystal.”1 Children are treated to the only amusement park devoted to winter dubbed “Ice and Snow World” but that nevertheless includes such attractions as “The Flying Dragon” and the “Tropical Rain Forest”. Ice slides in the festival parks give children the chance to link together to form trains and slide down these immense creations. With over 300 snow sculptures and 2 million visitors the Sapporo Snow Festival is in its 56th year.
Over the last four years the Sapporo Festival has sponsored a virtual snow festival whose motto is “"Distance, Collaboration, From Virtual to Real". Children around the world and in warmer climates can share and discuss their design ideas for an ice sculpture and through the use of web conferencing technology and the Internet can build and display the sculpture. One of these virtual designs will be chosen and built during the festival. Or, if you and your family can’t take a trip to one of these festivals or another snowy area, there’s always room to improvise, with a frozen milk carton of water that can carved into your own ice sculpture.
1 Harbin Ice and Snow Festival http://www.shanghaifinance.com/attractions/heilongjiang/harbinice/harbinice.htm
SourcesChina : http://www.china-pictorial.com/chpic/htdocs/English/content/200204/7-2.htm
Copyright 2005© Lauren Brosnihan
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