Each was the subject of a first prize-winning ice sculpture at the BP World Ice Championships in Fairbanks, Alaska last year. Started over two decades ago, the annual, month-long competition and exhibition brings together a coterie of international artists who are able to transform large chunks of ice into delicate displays of beauty. Sculptors can compete in either the Single Block or Multi-Block Classic, each with its own set of rules.
For its 25th anniversary, this year’s competition, which runs through the end of March, will be held for a third time at the 27-acre George Horner Ice Art Park in Fairbanks and revolve around the theme of “A New Beginning.” (Who else thinks Disney’s animated film “Frozen” will be a popular sculpture subject this year?)
According to Ice Alaska, over 45,000 visitors came to see the competition and exhibition last year. The championships are a big draw for families and sculpting enthusiasts, because while each individual competition may only last a few days, the resulting works are on display at the park throughout the entire month of March. Visitors can also play on the all-ice playgrounds and mazes, and even, yes, get married in the ice-sculpted chapel.
Interestingly, all of the ice for the competition, which totals over four million pounds, is produced on-site from the Ice Park’s O’Grady Pond Too. That’s a far more convenient set-up than what the first competition’s organizers had to coordinate; according to the Ice Championships blog, the first ice event 25 years ago was done with ice imported from Seattle by semi truck. The ice is also known as “Arctic Diamond” grade, meaning that the ice is especially clear and thick.
The 2014 BP World Ice Art Championships will be open daily from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., February 24 through March 30. Alaska-bound travelers should be sure to try and include a Fairbanks stop on their itinerary.
(Image: “Hunting Dragons” by Steve Brice, Heather Brice, Steve Cox, Justin Cox, 2013. Photo by Rhonda Y Konicki)