Ice sculpture

In an ice sculpture is a man-made sculpture made ​​of ice and snow. The preparation is referred to as ice carving.

Historical Background

As historical sources are firstly those in Russia built of sawed blocks of ice in the early 18th century ice palaces in the colorful glass panes or lenses were incorporated for magical light effects, and on the other hand viewed the Igloo Building the Eskimos.

In 1950, this tradition was revived, six giant sculptures made ​​of ice and snow " carved " than Japanese students in the winter resort Sapporo. Thus they founded the Sapporo Snow Festival, which takes place every year since then. His triumphal march around the world managed to ice carving, as the organizers of the 1972 Winter Olympics in Sapporo Ice Festival combined with the Framework Programme of the Olympic Games and also awarded medals for the best ice figure. This is the first official world championship in ice carving in this "sport ".

Since then this sport is gaining more and more followers. In February 2002, a World Cup in Europe was held for the first time in Graz, Austria.

The sculptures production

Ice sculptures are beaten by artists on the basis of original sketches or free hand given ice blocks using saws, hammers, files and machetes and carved or melted by warm water partially. Also, placing other pieces of ice and the " freezing " is possible. Since ice sculptures are made of frozen water, they are only temporary works of art. They are often used as decoration or focal point for events and set by a suitable lighting in the scene.


The production of ice sculptures poses several difficulties due to the different types of ice, from storage and the ambient conditions. As a raw material for the sculpture serve ice blocks, which consist of clean clear water with high transparency and involve as little air bubbles as possible. The ambient temperature affects the time available to the artist for the production of a sculpture available.

As already announced in the introduction, includes the forms of sculptures made of snow on this cold art. The two types of materials but are now used for separate art competitions, such as the 15th Snow Sculpture Competition in the Ore Mountains was held in February 2011.

Ice sculptures in the catering

Also, in some cuisines, especially in Asian, ice sculptures are used: for large dinners in restaurants or hotels ordered icy works of art serve as table decorations. One of the most popular ice sculptures is the swan couple, representing the bride and groom at weddings. To slow the melting of these works of art, dry ice is often added. Many party services also offer the production of ice sculptures for special occasions.

For several decades the world ice hotels have been established in different places. Also, the manufacturing of equipment and decorative elements counts for ice carving.

Exhibitions and competitions

Ice sculptures are built either on cold winter days outdoors or for exhibitions in special cold rooms. For the competitions in the art of Eisskulpturherstellung, the ice carving, an appropriate set of rules has been developed. It provides for the establishment or the participation of teams of 2-4 participants, before. The number of participants is set at the beginning of the competition.

By type of production and thematic guidelines, the categories are: monobloc, ie the sculpture must be machined from a single block of ice and multi- bloc distinguished. In addition, there is a timing and in advance as possible a general topic ( for example, the winter, the Arctic or Christmas) is already selected and specified.

Then a jury of artists and representatives of the NICA decides - National Ice Carving Association about the accuracy / visibility of the representation ( proportions), the craftsmanship (technology) and the artistic factor ( creativity), being again a distinction between realistic or abstract representation.

Some important international events are the ice sculptures World Cup, The Artists Ice Art (since 1999), the Ice World or the World Snow Festival.


The Ice World Ice Sculpture Festival was the first of Germany and took on 12 December 2003 to 1 February 2004 in Lübeck instead. However, economic difficulties meant the end of the Ice World 2006/2007 the estimated time from for this event.

Other examples of events in Germany are the annual commercial Eisskulpturenausstellungen the Centro in Oberhausen and ( since the completion of Alexa in Berlin), the Alexa on Ice. The ice art is made and shown in a separate cold storage.


Manchuria in China is an internationally renowned region for ice sculptures, where among other things, the International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival is conducted in Harbin. There has been increasing more and more in size, importance and popularity over time. More and more talented artists and techniques find their way into the festival. The climate of Manchuria is very cold and the ice is so durable. Objects in each size are exhibited here, some even big building. In addition, China has the feast of upset ankle.


The Japanese city of Sapporo on the island of Hokkaido is known for its Snow Festival ( Yuki- matsuri ), in which many teams compete against each other and make ice sculptures. Some of these objects are as large as multi-storey buildings. As noted above, took from here, the ice carving competition its beginning.


The Ice Hotel in the town of Kiruna, City Jukkasjärvi in Sweden, is known as one of the first of its kind since its construction in 1989, it has been shown in various TV shows, magazines and newspapers worldwide. The hotel is up on the bed, completely out of blocks of ice, even the glasses in the hotel bar are made of ice. The ice cream is made from the water of the Torneflusses. More than 60 rooms and suites, the hotel offers. The cost of an overnight stay amount to about 2,800 Swedish kronor (about 390 U.S. dollars) ( 2007). The hotel has existed only a year from November to May

Also in Jukkasjärvi (200 km north of the Arctic Circle ) has been around since 2002/ 03 a complete ice theater, which consists of 2,000 tons of ice blocks and the Globe Theatre of London (after Skakespeare ) is simulated. The actors appear in warm clothes and play Hamlet or Macbeth in Sami language. The theater accessories ( such as swords, chairs, etc. ) also consist of ice. ( To be handed out for the foot cushion ) The open in the center hall offers 520 spectators, including 96 lodges are equipped with reindeer skins, the rest are standing -. The stage area is 8 x 12 feet tall and equally full of ice. - The construction project comes from the Swedish Ice architects Ake Larsson, has been implemented by all 26 Eiskonstrukteuren. This new attraction will be well received by tourists and journalists; of course they must be like the hotels are rebuilt every year.

In mid-2004 in the Swedish capital Stockholm in a hotel an " ice bar " set up, the year-round visitors served at room temperature between -5 ° C. This will get for the duration of the stay, the amounts usually between 30 and 60 minutes a polar warming fur poncho and gloves. The menu mostly alcoholic beverages in original ice glasses.


In 2001 in Finland opened a whole snow village, Lanio called Snow Village, which the brothers Rami and Tomi Arto Lanio built and operate. This also includes an ice hotel, built from 6,000 m³ of snow, which consists of a main igloo ( with ice bar and 15 bedrooms ) and a few outbuildings there such as a romantic ice chapel and partly also offers standard hotel facilities that therefore non- ice allow stays. In Snow Village Invited ice sculptors build annually on approximately 1.5 acres of ice and snow sculptures.

The Snow Show in Kemi ( Rovaniemi area ) lures since February of 2004 prospects: a New Yorker, the curator Lance Fung, invited 60 artists and architects for this event. Here it was not a question of pure ice carving, but the objects to be designed should be made of ice or snow (80% ) and other elements such as video, lighting, sound, architectural ornaments, etc. ( 20% ). The exhibit must not exceed a floor area of ​​80 m² and a height of 8 meters. The organizer each laid down an action pair ( artist architect) as a team, a total of 17 teams created interesting objects that were on display in icy -25 ° C until the end of March 2004. As an experienced engineer Eisbau the Finn Seppo Mäkinen was ready, which operates annually built in place an ice castle with bar and restaurant.


The Canadian Eskimos hold for a long time once a year in spring a comparison of who is the fastest to build a real igloo with given dimensions, the winner gets a Naturalie.

In Québec, in Canada, there is every winter a Ice Sculpture Festival. The festival lasts for three weeks. Because of its number of objects and visitors, it is one of the largest in the world. In each year are selected to the 20 teams to compete against each other. Half of the team is from Canada, the other from other countries. 10 km east of the town is the first ice hotel in North America.


Annual events found in Gorky Park Gorky Park in Moscow and Perm in Russia ( Ural ) instead.


The " World Snow Festival " in Grindelwald in 1983 started with a Japanese ice artists formed of snow "giant Heidi ". The event takes place on the natural ice rink in the village center.


Here there is a Eis-/Schneeskulpturen-Festival in Eindhoven, first held in 2003, which was attended by 50 Schnitzteams. The beautiful works of art were produced in a cold store (-18 ° C) and could be admired for 3 weeks there.


About another ice sculpture festival in Breckenridge ( Colorado, USA ) was reported in 2004, were designed by scientists challenging topics. Art prize was awarded the 4 -meter-high structure by John Sullivan (TU Berlin ) on a mathematical theorem penetration of a sphere with itself by the interior versa outward.

Other countries

Because of the great interest in ice carving and the Ice Hotel is now available in other countries such offers:

  • Brazil: Recife invites a Grande igloo for 300 guests in Montmorency Park snow people. The igloo is re- created from 250 tons of ice annually.
  • New Zealand: In the capital Auckland in March 2004 opened an ice bar, the Minus Five; as in the ice hotel is also all the equipment of pure clear ice; the total of 1,600 drinking glasses are updated weekly frozen in special shapes. Visitors pay $ 10 entrance fee and received from the staff in ski clothing, fur hats and gloves down at temperatures from -5 to -7 ° C provides his two-hour service, fur boots, down coats and warm mittens. The décor features pretty little ice carvings such as swans, horses etc. This bar, located right on the harbor, will be well received, although the stay on 30 minutes and the drinking of max. 3 alcoholic beverages is limited. The Minus Five is also available in Queenstown.