Between chilling a drink, healing a bruise, or playing pond hockey, ice has always been a big part of our lives. We experience it daily, especially now as those of us who live in the Snow Belt often find ourselves wishing away winter’s many blessings. More than that, snow and ice have become part of our culture in ways that may surprise, impress and transform your view of the world we live in.
Silverthorne, Colorado, last year was the home of an ice castle grown by Brent Christensen and Ryan Davis from millions of gallons of water and illuminated by hundreds of compact fluorescent lights. On an average day they cultivated as many as 5,000 icicles to progressively grow the castle for their stream of visitors.
The geothermal heating system at the home of Roger Hanson is the source of his “Winter Water Wonder” in Big Lake, Minnesota. He sprays super cold water produced by the system onto frames that he has created to build up layer after layer of ice. In 2011 his ice castle reached a height of 65 feet and length of 85 feet. And, it got noticed by CNN, the Early Today Show and Eyewitness News.
In Eagle River, Wisconsin, firefighters have taken over a community tradition that began in the late 1920s, each year building an ice castle by hand from 3,000 12-inch thick ice blocks from a local lake. Compare that to Saranac Lake, which started its tradition in 1897. Each year this community builds an ice palace as the centerpiece and symbol of the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival.
On a much grander scale, millions of visitors flock to the annual Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival in northeastern China and Sapporo Snow Festival in Japan, which have been celebrated since 1963 and 1950, respectively. They are two of the four largest snow and ice celebrations in the world along with Quebec City’s Winter Carnival and Norway’s Ski Festival.
In Sweden you can experience a more functional but still very cool celebration of ice, if you don’t mind being on ice overnight. The renowned and fully functioning ICEHOTEL in Jukkasjärvi, with 5,500 square meters, claims to be the world’s largest hotel of ice and snow.
Family-owned Iceculture, Inc in Hensall, Ontario, might be the biggest and best enabler of ice. Their ice construction can be found in Sydney, Dubai, Madrid, Cape Town, and most recently in New Delhi, just to name a few. Their work influences the very fabric of what is cool in over 50 countries across the world. Back in George Antoniadis’ homeland, Iceculture swooped in and created the Lindos Ice Bar.
But, no matter how much skill, intelligence and effort we throw at snow and ice, the most fascinating displays are still those made by nature. Ginny Dougary, a U.K. blogger for the Times Saturday Magazine, credits the photography of Francis Latreille for bringing those natural ice works to us in his book “White Paradise”. If you are interested in seeing his subjects up close and personal, we can fly you up to Goose Bay, Canada, as a starting point of what could become the coolest trip of a lifetime. And, while we look forward to the thaw that concludes each winter, Mr. Latreille’s subjects are ice castles that we want to see forever.