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The Random Traveler | Cool Places: Jukkasjarvi ICEHOTEL + Harbin Ice Festival

Wonder and surprise…and oh-so-cool. Literally.  We’re highlighting two distinctly different locations, both variations on the same theme. Where to get your ice on first? Chilly thought.



Sweden’s Jukkasjarvi Ice Hotel is the end all be all of ice hotels. Located in Jukkasjarvi (200 km north of the Arctic Circle), 61 ice-suites are designed and crafted by 42 visiting artists from 11 different countries. Between March and April, 5,000 tons of ice is harvested from the Torne River and kept in cold storage during the spring and summer months. The innovation begins in November and December with the construction of the main hall, suites, an ice bar, and the chapel. After the season, nature runs its course and the hotel melts back into the Torne River.

Upon arrival, guests are given a “survival course” on dressing appropriately and how to make the bed using Arctic sleeping bags. Reassuringly, the bags are rated to minus 13 degrees Fahrenheit but the actual temperature never strays below a mild 23 degrees. Guests needing a little warm-up have use of the common area, which contains a sauna and relaxation area- complete with roaring fire and hot lingonberry juice on tap.

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Harbin Ice Festival

The Harbin Ice Festival takes it to a whole other level. Harbin is the capital city of Heilongjiang Province in northeast China, which boasts an arctic climate ideal for ice and snow. Average daytime temperature? 8.6 degrees Fahrenheit. Starting in December workers begin hauling massive blocks of ice out of the frozen Songhua River. 10,000 workers are in involved in extracting, hauling, assembling and carving the magical world. This year’s highlight is a 300-metre ice slide, which has visitors lining up for hours. Hundreds of thousands of visitors attend the celebration, making it the largest of its type anywhere in the world.

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1 Comment

  1. lino wiehen
    January 23, 2015

    that slide looks amazing