The art of ice sculpting is one that is practised the world over. Although its cultural roots are hard to pin down, this is an art form that remains popular both as an activity and as a basis for Snow and Ice Festivals the world over. We’ve had a rifle through the internet and picked out the biggest and best ice festivals in the world – check them out below:
Sapporo Snow Festival
Credited as being one of the largest winter events, the Sapporo Snow Festival is a major cultural event in Japan, drawing in millions of visitors to the handful of parks around the city every year. Around 400 individual ice statues are carved for the Festival each year, with the majority of them placed in and around Odori Park. The story of the Sapporo Snow Festival is a timeless one. The event was started by a group of six high school students who built a snow statue each in 1950. Five years later, the students were joined by the Japan Self-Defense Forces who built the first of the truly huge snow sculptures, which the Festival has now become famous for. The annual events takes places in February each year.
Harbin Ice and Snow Festival
At the top of the list for ice art fans from all around the world has to be the Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival. Whilst its name might be in need of some serious shortening, the festival is nonetheless the biggest of its kind. Originating in 1963 as a traditional ice lantern show, the festival has grown exponentially over the years, largely due to the boost in tourism that is given to the area each year. Running from December 24th to February 25th each year, this Festival regularly features some of the world’s biggest ice sculptures. Due to the cold winds that the Northeastern city of Harbin receives from nearby Siberia, temperatures sit at around -16.8 ºC, perfect for keeping these huge sculptures frozen in place.
Ice on Whyte
Now in its 15th year, the Ice on Whyte Festival is a varied event that has something for everyone. Expert ice sculptors from around the world flock to the city of Edmonton each year to compete in the Ice on Whyte competition. Although visitors will no doubt enjoy perusing the international standard entries, there’s so much more to explore at this 2-day event. Adults and kids can create their very own sculptures made of ice, foodies can eat their fill at the Whiskey Stew Off and music lovers can enjoy some stellar performances at Blues on Whyte. The festival takes place every year in February.
World Ice Art Championships
There is no ‘official’ World Championships for the art of ice sculpting, which has led to to many disparate organisations holding their own competitions and inviting international teams to take part. Ice Alaska’s World Ice Art Championships is one of the longest running competitions of this kind. The tradition of ice carving in Alaska began back in the 1930s when a handful of sculptors made ice thrones for the annual Winter Carnivals that took place across the snowy state. Since then the organisation has grown significantly and comprises over 90 committees and relies on the help of over 300 volunteers. Over 100 ice artists travel from around the world to take part in their annual competition in February and March.
If you’re anything close to a film buff then you’ll be more than aware that the Academy Awards are just around the corner.
Taking place at 12am this Monday 5th March; thousands will be tuning in to see the brightest of the Hollywood stars strut their stuff on the iconic red carpet and pick up their golden gongs. For those who are besotted with the lives of the A-Listers this is the kind of event that lights up social media feeds all over the world, but for more discerning film lovers it’s simply another PR hype machine created to boost the egos and line the pockets of a stratospheric elite.
Take a wild guess which kind of movie-fan I align myself with…
Hipster-cynicism aside, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t wake up every morning after the Oscars to eagerly check the results, the iconic nature of the event brings still brings with it a breathless anticipation that (although short-lived) is infectious – as we discover which lucky few can henceforth refer to themselves as an ‘Academy Award winner’. With that being said there are a whole raft of equally distinguished awards that are given out every year by a number of judging panels and boards within our own borders.
I make a point of visiting a handful of different film festivals each year, which I’m happy to endorse as a much richer alternative to sitting at home in the middle of the night vacantly staring at hundreds of rich people slapping each other on the back. Oops. There goes that cynicism again. Before I slip into another rant, here are the five film festivals that are currently penned in my diary for 2018:
Manchester Film Festival – 1st-4th March 2018
Despite only being four years old this year the Manchester Film Festival has picked up real steam with a truly eclectic line-up of independent releases for voracious film lovers to get stuck into. Over 100 films will receive their UK and World premieres at the Festival this year including works featuring Nicholas Cage, Sean Penn, Jodie Foster, Faye Dunaway and Shia Labeouf. Access is incredibly affordable for punters like us with a 4 film pass costing only £17.50.
Puppet Animation Festival 24th March-14th April 2018
One of the older festivals on my list, this venerable event is marking it’s 35th year in 2018 and is a must for any parents who are looking to instil a love for puppets in their kids. Over 140 events take place all throughout Scotland across 30 venues and are aimed at kids aged 0-12. Theatre companies, animation groups and artists alike flock to Scotland during the festival to host workshops and help children create their own puppets, visual theatre and animated films: a must for any young budding film-makers.
Sheffield Doc/Fest 7th-12th June 2018
Featuring the very best documentaries from around the world, the Sheffield Doc/Fest is a great excuse to venture up North during the balmy summer months. For a few days in June the city will be taken over by film makers, producers and a whole host of all-round interesting folk making this a great time to get some networking done. Amongst the stellar lineup of docs you’ll also have the opportunity to try your hand at a number of Augmented and Virtual Reality Experiences.
There are tonnes more great festivals scheduled for the rest of the year in and around the UK, don’t forget to support your local events!