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Ever tried to turn a 40,000-pound block of snow into a triumvirate of Mexican mythological beings with only the help of vegetable peelers, chicken wire and small saws? Better question: Ever tried building something more complicated than a three-ball snowman? Regardless, you’ll be blown away at the International Snow Sculpture Championships in Breckenridge.

Teams from as far away as Morocco and China spend 65 hours whittling 12-foot-high cubes—which are packed down by local volunteer “snow stompers”—into scuba divers, reindeer heads, northern lights, kangaroos and cockleshells. The works are then judged by a group of painters, landscape architects, glassblowers and sculptors.

The whole event lasts more than two weeks and brings 30,000 gawkers to Breck’s Riverwalk Center, who lace up their Sorels and watch the blocks being built (or even sign up to stomp). The winning prize? Nothing, other than pride and memory: In the middle of the night at the end of Viewing Week, everything gets swept away.

What: 22nd Annual Budweiser International Snow Sculpture Championships
Where: Breckenridge, Colo.
When: Jan. 19–Feb. 5, 2012
Highlights: Twelve teams sculpt 20-ton blocks of snow into incredibly intricate works of art. Sculpting week is Jan. 24–28; the sculptures are taken down the night of Feb. 5.
Tickets: Free
Headliner event: The awards ceremony is on Sunday, Jan. 29, 2012, at 3:30 p.m.
International Snow Sculpture Championships Stay and Ski Lodging Package: Four people can stay four nights in a two-bedroom condo and get four days of lift tickets included for as low as $110 per person, per night.
Lodging options: Dozens of accommodations, from conference center–style hotels and large condos to intimate B&B’s and hostels with dorm rooms.
Ski-in, ski-out lodging: Some hotels and condos have ski-in, ski-out access. Clarify when making reservations.
Reservations: 888-251-2417

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