Ice Sculptures: Frozen, Ethereal Aspirations

A few weekends ago, we bused up to Lake Louise in Banff National Park, for their annual ice carving competition and some mountain snowshoeing. It is an international competition that’s been slowly gaining an ice crampon foothold with more intricate,

Song of Many Happy Valleys. USA. Lake Louise, Alberta Jan. 2013. Photo by J. Chong

arresting sculptures this year.

After 14 km. of snowshoeing and straining a groin muscle, we hustled over to the lake edge by Chateau Lake Louise. Late blue-gold sunlight was falling slowly

Swans guarding their twin eggs. USSR. Lake Louise, Alberta Jan. 2013. Photo by J.Becker

over each sparkling ice sculpture.  The ethereal sculptures were from North America, Europe and Philippines.   Thrusting mountains and a glacier draping over the lake,  provided a fabulous backdrop for these sculptures that tended to rise up or dance gracefully in celebration.

Even the sculpture that was titled,  “You’re My Puppet”, was light, yet precariously hovered over visitors. Though the design wasn’t intricate, carving and erecting a slim 7 metre high woman with delicate fingering of strings for her marionette child puppet, probably was the reason for a honourable mention.  Hard to know how the carvers kept the ice-woman from toppling over.

My favourite ice sculpture was from Russia, “Song of the White Cranes”. I loved the gentle, mythological-folklore depiction of a child musician sitting on a horse wading in a frozen pool. The surface of the pool was etched with snow crusted white cranes –a delightful detail that I didn’t even notice until the second time I strolled by.  On the third

Song of the White Cranes. USSR. Lake Louise, Alberta Jan. 2013. Photo by J.Chong. My favourite sculpture with white snow etched cranes on water surface. Whole sculpture is anchored by swimming goldfish below.

time at night, I noticed this whole sculptural tableau  was cleverly held up by carved goldfish swimming underneath the icy surface waters.  No wonder why this artpiece took the Carvers’ choice award –its execution was masterful on several different levels.

The guiding theme for this year’s sculptures, was a song.  So one of the Canadian entries was “Ewe Make Me Feel Like Dancing”:  it inspired a sheep ice skating couple.  A joint Philippine-Canadian sculpture featured a King-Kong like gorilla by a bamboo grove.

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Many people were riveted by the ice sculpture that was a take-off from “Song of Many Happy Valleys”.  It featured a dancing aboriginal woman with her back arched backward.  Several other icy art pieces featured a figure playing a violin—the Netherlands offered a group of skeletons while another Russian piece featured a buxom woman with also a violin.

Later, Jack chatted with one of the carvers. Apparently some carvers run ice-carving businesses on the side while others are amateurs. Not surprisingly, some carvers were wood and log carvers in the summer.

Competition rules. Jan. 2013

These sparkling sculptures were delicate, yet quick mastery of ice.  Ephemeral,

Snowshoeing our way to ice sculpture festival location, near our hotel. Lake Louise, Alberta.

transparent art that becomes a memory and another wintery wish whenever snow and bitter cold sweeps in.

More Reading and Photos:
Chong, J. Lake Louise: Snowshoeing Snow-Glazed Mountains, Ice Castles and Bison Reuben Sandwiches. In Cycle Write Blog. Jan. 20,2012.

19 Comments Add yours

  1. Val says:

    Wow! Those ice sculptures are amazing!


  2. Jean says:

    And they don’t last forever.


  3. Jiawei says:

    Absolutely beautiful!
    Northeastern China’s Harbin also hosts ice sculpture festivals, but I’ve never been brave enough to head that direction to see it. Maybe one of these days!


    1. Jean says:

      Jiawei, I’ve heard of that ice festival and sculptures in China. Have seen photos of incredible edifices! That would be a treat to go to but may be your family needs to acclimatize for 1-2 days in advance! I think that area might be further north than us here.


  4. timethief says:

    Absolutely gorgeous!


    1. Jean says:

      Thanks for dropping by. Clearly something you wouldn’t see in your neck of the woods.


  5. Ray Colon says:

    Hi Jean,

    I may be easier to please because I thought that they were all terrific. I also enjoy carved wood, molded sand, and other ways in which talented people create fantastic art, but what those artists can do with ice is the most impressive to me.

    I’ve never attended one of these events. I’m curious, are early birds treated by being able to see these sculptures as they are being made? The rules stated 34 hours over three days of carving time. Open to the public during those three days?

    Once completed, is there maintenance on these pieces? They all look like they were just completed.


    1. Jean says:

      We came to see these wonderful art sculptures the following day after they were finished. Yes, people probably were able to see from afar. I spoke to one of the hotel shopkeepers that overlook the lake, mtns. and sculptures. I’m not sure about this year, but least year they lasted over 3 wks. Maybe it was cold enough for a long time. Most definitely visitors should view such creations just after they’ve been completed.


  6. tuckamoredew says:

    That is ice sculpture at its best . Impressive. You did a good job photographing them, something I struggled with at our neighbourhood winter festival.


    1. Jean says:

      The location was great for photographing these masterpieces!


  7. Rita Azar says:

    Wow! Really amazing sculptures! I remember I saw some amazing ones in Quebec City for the annual winter Festival there: Carnaval de Quebec.


    1. Jean says:

      I’ve seen the promos for Quebec City’s Carnaval. I’m sure there’s a slightly different spirit than anything in the Rocky Mt. area. I’ve been in Quebec City several different times when I lived in Ontario, but never in the winter yet.


  8. Those are absolutely gorgeous. Truly artistic. I loved the horse. I’m also sitting here shivering just reading it, which probably means you have shared the atmosphere extremely well.


  9. I would gladly suffer frigid temperatures to see this in person! So cool!


    1. Jean says:

      We went snowshoeing in the mountains for few hrs. and rushed back to catch the displays at both sunset and at night. And better to go when there aren’t a ton of people to take photos.


  10. Huffygirl says:

    Great ice sculptures. I attended an ice sculpture competition this year also but these are far more advanced than the ones I saw. My competition was college students though.


    1. Jean says:

      Truly, these were works of serious art. I’m so glad we went.


  11. Sartenada says:

    Great art indeed. I love them. In Finland we have:

    World’s Biggest Snow Castle.,

    where are inside ice art. If You look at my post, check also my wife’s video at the end.


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