Explore the Frosty World of Ice Festivals!
Have you got a hankering to see some ice art?
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.