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Thursday, 23 January 2014

Seasons Freezings - Enjoy the best winter photo galleries

“I wonder if the snow loves the trees and fields, that it kisses them so gently? And then it covers them up snug, you know, with a white quilt; and perhaps it says "Go to sleep, darlings, till the summer comes again,” wrote Lewis Carroll.
Winter sprinkles magic over the landscape. Winter is beautiful. Winter is festive. Winter begs to be celebrated.
Which is why, even as much of the northern hemisphere freezes over, we venture boldly into the cold in mitts and overcoats to build snowmen, ride sleds, quaff gluhwein and yell for joy. In Steinbeck's words, "What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness?"
Enjoy these beautiful images of winter around the world - from the snow festivals in China and Japan, to excursions in Mount Zao and Zermatt, Ladakh and Sonmarg. Of glimpses of frozen waterfalls, warm-hearted Christmas markets and romantic cuddles in igloo hotels.
And what of desert cities where winter barely visits? Look at how Dubai recreates a winter wonderland in its ice cafes and ski resorts.
Finally, escape to an indoor tropical beach and strip down to your bathing suits even as blizzards rage outside. 

 Snow is inspiring and ice brings out the artist in us. Why else would 7,000 artists chop away at countless ice blocks hewn out of the frozen Songhao River to create this magical landscape of ice buildings and sculptures spread over 6,458,400 square feet? January 5 marked the start of the Harbin International Ice & Snow Sculpture Festival in Harbin, northeastern China. The festival, in its 30th year, hopes to attract a million visitors. At night, the fairytale landscape comes aglow as LED lamps inside the structures come on.
 The Japanese city of Sapporo has hosted the eponymous Sapporo Snow Festival since 1950, when six school students built statues in Odori Park. Today, the festival is one of Japan's biggest winter events and draws thousands of kitted-up tourists who marvel at the artistry of the snow sculptures. An international sculpture contest is the highlight of the festival and teams compete for the top honours.
 The sheer poetry of a winter landscape has to be seen to be believed. A trip to Japan's Mount Zao will set skeptics right. From a cable car over a frost-glazed forest, gaze enraptured at scenery that stops your breath. The crystalline snow on the leaves and branches gives the impression that the trees are actually white.
 And what of that sly charmer, Jack Frost? He's a poet, painter and perhaps even an ice-cream fetishist. Take a look at his handiwork with hoarfrost last week in in Telc, Czech Republic.
 Though summer is cherished, the inevitability of winter is awaited eagerly in Switzerland. In the ski resort town of Zermatt, skies are grey and the snow is piled thick. Waking up to a frosty morning, Yahoo reader Shayantani explores the town on foot, a feat in itself (if you will excuse the pun).
 Spring will come again, but the romance of winter must be revelled in while it lasts. The 'Iglu-Lodge' in Oberstdorf, Germany under the peak of the 'Nebelhorn' at about 1,900 meters offers a total of ten igloos with two suites, a bar, restaurant and a 39-degree warm outdoor jacuzzi. The walls of the bar are decorated with ornate ice-reliefs with theme 'Western world'. Guests sleep in expedition sleeping bags on ice blocks covered with reindeer skins.
 It is bitterly cold in Nuremberg in Bavaria, but the winds have brought in warmth. The traditional Christkindlesmarkt has just been inaugurated by an angel called the Nuremberg Christkind. Angels blow the bugle and the atmosphere has turned magical.
 Winter comes to India's northern state of Jammu and Kashmir in a sweeping frigid wave. When the worst of it passes, it leaves behind clear skies and stunning scenery like this vista of snow-draped hillsides and dales in Sonmarg. It isn't just snow, it is sheer poetry.
 A winter landscape can't get more dramatic than this image that appears to be straight out of Disney's Frozen. It is all real, of course, this waterfall in Sikkim.
 It's a raging 47 degrees outside but in here, you can sit on blocks of ice and sip hot chocolate. This Saudi Arabian family does exactly that at Chillout cafe in Dubai. Chillout, owned by UAE's Sharaf Group, is the first ice lounge in the Middle East, with temperatures set at -6 degrees Celsius (21 degrees Farenheit). The cafe, with its illuminated interiors, curtains, paintings and seating arrangements, is all made of carved ice and frozen sculptures.
 Why spend those dollars on hotel stay in real ski resort when you can walk into a Dubai mall and experience it all in the Emirates? You could well be this young boy gazing through glass into Ski Dubai, the world's largest snowdome, at Mall of the Emirates.
 And finally, a different spin on winter. Imagine a paradise where winter overcoats are traded for bikinis, snowshoes for bare feet, and cold, crunchy snow for warm, golden sand. Sounds incredible? When winter temperatures drop below freezing German tourists hit the beach. An indoor beach, if you will. This decommissioned hangar now houses the Tropical Islands indoor resort, inside which is an unbelievable world where the sun shines and the waves lap.

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