As a traveler, I’ve learned to equate ice with travel delays and closed roads. When I worked at a party planning company, I associated ice sculptures with decoration for swanky weddings.

I DIDN’T THINK of ice as more than a hassle for traveling or kissing swans that are gone by the end of the wedding reception, but there are festivals, contests, and exhibitions for ice sculptures that showcase how frozen water can be made into art. Here are 24 exceptional ice sculptures from around the world.

Feature image: erinohara73

1

Harbin, China

They're not messing around at the annual Harbin Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival in China. The festival comes from the tradition of ice lanterns in the Qing Dynasty: the local peasants and fishermen made lanterns by pouring water into a bucket, freezing it, then warming it up. It was then warmed, a hole was chiseled in the top, and the water remaining inside poured out, creating a hollow vessel. A candle was then placed inside making a windproof lantern. (Travel China Guide)Photo: frankartculinary

2

Paris, France

Standing guard: a British soldier in front of Big Ben along the Champs Elysees in Paris in 2010. Photo: Alexandre Marchand

3

Harbin, China

A traditional temple at the 2008 Harbin festival. Photo: Strudel Monkey

4

Ottawa, Canada

"The Capital of Japan: Tokyo" from the 2007 annual Winterlude festival in Ottawa, Canada. The sculpture was carved by master Ice Carver: Junichi Nakamura. Junichi Nakamura was assisted by Ka Wai Wong, member of the Canadian Ice Carvers Society. Photo: Kasia/flickr

5

Harbin, China

A sprawling and elaborately lit ice temple at night from the 2009 Harbin Festival. Photo: erinohara73

6

Oberhausen, Germany

Angel statue from the Ice & Snow Sculpture Exhibition in Oberhausen, Germany in 2005. Photo: marei-ll

7

Bruges, Belgium

A laboratory and library at the 2009 Bruges Snow and Ice Festival. Photo: wwarby

8

Boston, Massachusetts

The sun and the moon from the 2005 Boston First Night Celebration in Copley Square. Photo: snowriderguy

9

Ottawa, Canada

A Russian bear in Canada. "The Capital of Russia: Moscow" at the Winterlude festival: carved by Master Ice Carver: Vladimir Zhikhartsev and assisted by Kevin Ashe, member of the Canadian Ice Carver's Society.Photo: Kasia/flickr

10

Bruges, Belgium

Dragon head up close in Bruges, 2009. Photo: wwarby

11

Paris, France

Rodin's "The Thinker" on ice in 2010 in Paris. Photo: PhOtOnQuAnTiQuE

12

Ottawa, Canada

"Showdown on Ice" by Dan Rebholz at the 2007 Winterlude festival. Photo: Kasia/flickr

13

Harbin, China

The towers of the 2009 Harbin Ice and Snow Festival. Photo: erinohara73

14

Ottawa, Canada

A chimera from Greek mythology at the 2010 Winterlude festival. Photo: jacob earl

15

Lapland, Finland

The Titanic frozen in mid-sink at the SnowCastle of Kemi in Lapland, Finland in 2007. Each year this ice hotel is rebuilt and new art is made. Photo: eziom2an

16

Anchorage, Alaska

Horses riding out of the snow at the 2010 Crystal Gallery of Ice Carving in Anchorage, Alaska. Photo: Alaskan Dude

17

Ottawa, Canada

Drama masks of comedy and tragedy; the faces are symbols of the ancient Greek muses, Thalia and Melpomene at the 2009 Winterlude festival. Photo: Jacob earl

18

Harbin, China

The 2005 Harbin Ice and Snow Festival. Photo: oopsilon

19

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvaina

Penguins in Pittsburgh. Photo: daveynin

20

Harbin, China

Part of a coral reef ice sculpture 2008 Harbin Ice and Snow Festival. Photo: EmmaJG

21

Harbin, China

A shaman at Harbin in 2007. Photo: vitafluida

22

Anchorage, Alaska

Honoring a fallen comrade in 2010 in Anchorage, Alaska. Photo: Alaskan Dude

23

Celebration, Florida

A mountain goat complete with beard and horns in Celebration, Florida at the Gaylord Palms in 2008. Celebration is the town designed by Disney in the 1990s.Photo: seanosh

24

Stockholm, Sweden

Gears of ice in Stockholm 2009.Photo: ainudil

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