The world's best snow festivals

RACHAEL OAKES-ASH
Last updated 05:00 03/08/2013
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COOL AS ICE: A person inspects a huge Buddha during the Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival in Harbin, China.

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Skiers and boarders love to socialise and what better way to bond with fellow snow lovers than at a winter festival?

From giant ice sculptures to big name music performers, Hollywood types and the champagne set. The party stage has already been set by festival organisers and all you have to do is show up.

Who said festival season is summer? Try any of these winter festivals on for size.

Winterfestival, Queenstown, New Zealand

Forty five thousand people a year descend on Queenstown for the Winterfestival at the end of June.

For 10 days they immerse themselves in comedy, street parties, gigs, dinners and mountain madness as farmers take their sheep dogs to the snow hill to race them down, and jet boats race each other on Lake Wakatipu.

The festival has been going for 40 years, all so Queenstown can welcome winter in with a bang and a 10-day hangover.

Snowbombing at Mayrhofen, Austria

Snowboard and ski by day and seriously party by night. The week long Snowbombing Festival combines giant parties with giant music names in a Tyrolian setting.

The Forest Party in the woods has hosted The Prodigy, Fatboy Slim and Kasabian, just to name a few. The Racket Club, in an underground tennis centre, has hosted Groove Armada, DJ Shadow and Grandmaster Flash.

Then there's the backcountry party held in the 300-year-old Tristenbachalm.

Top of the Mountain at Ischgl, Switzerland/Austria

Slopes at Ischgl rarely fill up before lunchtime as party goers sleep off the night before.

The opening Easter week and the final week of the season is celebrated in true apres style with the dulcet tones of big names including Katy Perry, The Killers, Kylie Minogue, Elton John, Jon Bon Jovi and Lionel Richie gracing the main Top of the Mountain Festival main stage.

Ski in, party out, with 10,000 new friends.

Sundance Film Festival, Park City, US

Hollywood hits Main Street in Park City each January for Robert Redford's Sundance festival.

Expect 10 days of both indie and bigger studio films, fund-raising dinners with directors, open debates, big parties and a celebration of all things multimedia, in a winter setting.

Expect to share the chairlifts with Jessica Alba, Kate Bosworth, James Franco and their friends.

Harbin Ice Festival, China

Move over Legoland, the Haribin Ice Festival builds entire cities and landscapes out of ice and snow then lights them up for a month each year.

The festival is famous for giant snow sculptures and revellers can also participate in ice skating and ice sailing, dog sledding, streetside ice bars and ice lanterns by night. Take thermals - temperatures drop to minus 30. 

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World Ski and Snowboard Festival, Whistler, Canada

While other resorts are winding down or have already shut their winter doors, Whistler is gearing up for the annual April World Ski and Snowboard Festival.

The biggest snowboarding and skiing names battle it out in international competition daily, alongside photographers and pro filmmakers who have their own public showdowns, with their work voted on by their peers and the public.

Add some snow debates and Canadian style music gigs.

Clicquot in the Snow, Aspen and Thredbo and Queenstown

Clicquot in the Snow originated in Aspen in 2007 and took to the Thredbo slopes two years later and Queenstown joined in last year.

All three ski villages turn Clicquot Yellow with locals donning iconic Veuve Raybans, gumboots and fur lined neck lanyards.

Aspen featured a pop-up on-mountain Oasis bar last season which changed locations daily, with clues for guests to find them.

Little Nell hotel guests received Fresh for Clicquot in the Snow Beauty Survival Kits and the St Regis Remede Spa offered Clicquot-inspired treatments. Thredbo has snow picnics, races, degustation dinners and apres ski events.

What snow festival have you been to? Which festivals have we missed for the list? Post a comment on below and share your festival stories.

- Sydney Morning Herald

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