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Ice and snow sculpture festivals

If someone told you to go hiking where there is a lot of snow and ice, you would probably imagine large areas covered in a whiteness as far as you could see, majestic icebergs, or a quiet forest with snow covered trees. You probably wouldn’t think about the majestic works of art made by ice or snow sculptors in various parts of the world.  These pictures will change your mind.


From a block of ice to a magical work of art

It all starts with a block of ice, chosen carefully by the sculptor. The success of the work essentially rests on the purity of the ice. The more transparent and perfect the material chosen, the more the light rays which pass through it will make it shine brightly. For snow sculptures, the quality of the block is less important, but the outside temperature and environment remain predominant criteria for how long they survive.

Armed with patience and dexterity, the sculptors saw, chip and sand their blocks to get a crude shape. Then they use smaller tools, such as a chisel, a file or even a toothed chisel, to refine their creations. To make the most imposing pieces that flourish at many festivals, several blocks of ice or snow are stuck to each other, to create sculptures that can reach up to 250 meters wide!

The amount of blocks required for a festival is impressive and mobilises everyone living in the cities that host these events. For the Harbin Ice Festival in China, 120,000 sq. m. of snow were used last year. From these astronomical amounts emerge sculptures which are all quite different from each other with the artists attaching their own style and technique.

A festival to beat all festivals!

Lovers of ice and snow sculptures will find dozens of annual events all over the northern hemisphere, wherever winter temperatures are very low. Whether it’s a festival in Russia, Japan, Alaska, Poland, Sweden, Canada, England or even in France, the sculptors showing at these events are motivated by the desire to share and to take visitors on a journey. In many cases, these are not just competitions or World Championships, but above all beautiful celebrations where young and old alike find themselves surrounded by friendliness and magic.

To read the full article and discover our selection of festivals not to be missed, go to the page 61 of the 10th issue of Hiking on the Moon. And to go further, our team met 2 famous sculptors: André Marastoni and Pascal Veuillet. Back on this beautiful meeting page 63.


Valloire International Snow Sculpture Contest – France

© B.Grange / OT Valloire

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