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Icy Reception

Photography Ben Nilsson / Big Ben Productions of 'Crystallization'

Art Suite by Patrick Dallard

The obvious problem with constructing a building entirely out of ice is that it melts every spring. But Sweden’s ICEHOTEL embraces the opportunity to reinvent itself with an annual competition among international designers to conceptualize and build new suites out of ice and snow, starting every November. This year—the hotel’s 20th anniversary—15 suites will open December 10, designed by contest winners from all over the world. Staying in one of these so-called “art suites,” you’ll feel more like you traveled to another planet than to another country. www.icehotel.com

TALL ORDER

After five years of construction, the tallest tower in the world is set to open in Dubai on December 2, which also happens to be United Arab Emirates National Day. The shiny, pointy 2,684-foot Burj Dubai houses the first Armani Hotel in the world and has retail and office space galore. (It hasn’t all been filled yet, so hurry up and stake your claim.) This marks the first time since 1311—when England’s Lincoln Cathedral surpassed Egypt’s Great Pyramid of Giza—that the world’s tallest freestanding structure has been in the Middle East. Whatever you do, don’t look down. www.burjdubai.com

ALL THE TRIMMINGS

You’re unlikely to have a white Christmas in Dallas, but the city’s Rosewood Crescent Hotel has a pretty sweet holiday tradition. Each year, the hotel erects a massive gingerbread village using 800 eggs, 100 pounds of flour and 100 pounds of candy. There’s also a 10-foot-tall Mrs. Claus (you better watch out). While the display is just for show (no nibbling), you can bake your own during gingerbread-making classes for adults and children. www.crescentcourt.com

ABSINTHE MINDED

\The InterContinental Montreal just unveiled a $14 million makeover. Instead of going green, the hotel followed the green fairy, opening the first absinthe bar in North America, Sarah B., named after Sarah Bernhardt. Green-velvet banquettes and cozy fireplaces make Sarah B. feel decadent and vintage. The specialty of the house is absinthe-based cocktails, including a Collins, frappe and mojito. www.barsarahb.com; www.montreal.intercontinental.com

LIVE FROM NEW YORK…

Elaborate department store window displays are as much a part of winter in the Big Apple as ice skating at Rockefeller Center. Unlike its competitors, Barneys stays away from traditional holiday themes (see last year’s “Peace & Love: Have a Hippie Holiday”). This year, the store will celebrate another famed New York tradition: Saturday Night Live. Look for the Coneheads, John Belushi and Tina Fey in their seasonal finery. www.barneys.com

CHRISTMAS VILLAGE

You know that aunt or uncle who gets everyone perfect gifts from far-off places? You can be that aunt or uncle with just a quick jaunt to Chicago. Join the throngs buying imported handcrafts at Christkindlmarket. This isn’t your typical holiday-mart: It attracts more than half a million people who think strolling through an open-air market (inspired by one in Nuremberg, Germany, that opened in 1545) while nibbling on strudel beats going to the mall any day. www.christkindlmarket.org

SNOW BIG DEAL

Aspen Snowmass is among the snowiest ski areas with the most diverse terrain in the U.S., so devoted skiers could probably stay in a quonset hut and still have a good time. Fortunately, they don’t have to. The KOR Hotel Group’s Viceroy Resort Residences at Snowmass open this month as part of the new Snowmass Village. It’s a ski-in, ski-out facility with cozy fireplaces in the rooms and a year-round outdoor pool (really). In short, it’s got the luxury amenities you expect from a billion-dollar project. That hut’s starting to sound a bit drafty, isn’t it? www.viceroysnowmass.com

GAME DROPPERS

The Las Vegas Strip will welcome something unusual this month—a hotel without a casino. Talk about a gamble. The Mandarin Oriental Las Vegas has lavish rooms, a restaurant helmed by Pierre Gagnaire and an absurdly large spa. To celebrate its opening, the hotel offers the We Fan Vegas package:

Book one or more nights and get another free. Sounds like a safe bet for a relaxing Vegas getaway—three words we never thought we’d see in a single sentence. www.mandarinoriental.com

BON TEMPS

Grab a skewer and make some s’mores beside any of the hundred (carefully contained) feux de joie at the annual Festival of the Bonfires outside New Orleans. The Lutcher, Louisiana, tradition dates back to colonial times, but activities such as a washer board tournament (in which washers are thrown into holes on a wooden board) and the Million Mutt March are more recent additions. Oh, and if you need to waddle off those s’mores, there’s a 5K going on, too. www.festivalofthebonfires.org

CALENDAR DECEMBER

3-7
MONTREAL

Twenty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, along comes Wall to Wall, an arts festival that is guaranteed to be off the wall. www.berlinmuramur.com

6
PONZANO ROMANO, ITALY

Looking for love? You’ll be in good company at the Spinster Festival, where a randomly selected single woman receives a gift and hearty well-wishing from the town. comune. www.ponzanoromano.rm.it

12
BROOKLYN, NEW YORK

Hanukkah celebrations aren’t usually accompanied by metal music, but “Hanukkah Gone Metal” is par for the course at New York’s famed Knitting Factory nightclub, where the music will be a backdrop to a major league dreidel-spinning tournament. www.knittingfactory.com

28-30
LORNE, AUSTRALIA

It’s camping season in the Southern Hemisphere, and what better complement to sleeping in a tent than catching a live show by Grizzly Bear (or any of the more than 50 other bands playing), watching a movie in an outdoor amphitheater or going to art camp? www.fallsfestival.com.au

DECEMBER 18 – JANUARY 3
LONDON

For fans of sports traditionally played in bars, the World Darts Championship hits the bull’s-eye. www.pdc.tv

8-17
SYDNEY

If your attention span is too limited for Sundance and the like, try Flickerfest, a collection of short films screened on Bondi Beach. www.flickerfest.com.au

16
KEY WEST, FLORIDA

As an island chain, the Keys have a duty to provide any and all visitors with delicious seafood, and that’s exactly what they do at the Florida Keys Seafood Festival. www.monroe.ifas.ufl.edu/environment/env_seafood_fest.shtml

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