So whenever the first snowflakes fall, snowmen pop up everywhere. Some get a bit more ambitious in their snow building skills. But did you know ice sculpture artist is a serious profession? At the Ice sculpture festival in Zwolle you can feast your eyes on all the marvelous shapes they gave to these colossal ice art cubes
Every year an international team of ice sculptures come to the Netherlands to create a marvelous experience in ice. There is a special tent (1200 square meters when I visited) that they transform to a big freezer. In one week the sculptures transformed 275.000 kilogram ice and 275.00 kilogram snow into 28 sceneries. This year the theme was “world famous stories”. So there were scenes about Romeo and Julia, Dracula, Sherlock Holmes, Bambi and what not.
The difference between snow and ice sculptures is just striking with the whites of the virgin snow in high contrast to the clarity of the see through ice. Combined with smart lighting, projections and music it is a true experience. But a cold one. Inside the tent it is 10 degrees below zero. So bring warm clothing! Luckily there is a cafeteria in the building next door where you can warm up and buy some Dutch winter food; warm chocolate milk, pastries or go true Dutch and get some typical pea soup with sausage!
How does a visit work?
The tent is located on the edge of a parking lot at a big event hall. Here you can park and at the end get your parking ticket from the machine before you leave (5 euros in 2019). You than walk towards the tent and find the entrance by following the arrows. You can buy a ticket at the counter, but this can also be done online (and is most likely cheaper). I paid 12 euros for my ticket which was discounted from the 16 euros it normally costs. You than enter the line near the entrance. Before you go in you get a stamp on your wrist. This stamp allows you to reenter as many times as you want on the same day. So if you want to get something to drink and after that visit the statues again, you can! At the door they let a group of around 20 people in at the same time before closing the door again. This is to keep the cold in and control the amount of people inside. Once you are inside you can roam around at your own pace. There is a set route that will guide you through it all, guaranteed you will not get lost. At the end you can exit the tent and walk straight to the restaurant. Ready for round two? Get in the line at the entrance of the tent and show your stamp.
Tips and tricks
- Buy your ticket online. It is almost always cheaper than at the counter.
- Visit the website (Dutch version has more information) to see if there are other activities or events you can visit, sometimes even with a discount.
- The waiting line can be long on weekends or holidays. If you can, visit on a weekday
- It is cold! So gloves hats and scarfs are a must. Do not forget extra thick socks! Your toes will thank you for it.
- You will want to take pictures, but mind the cold. Batteries will get exhausted much faster and be aware of lenses fogging up when going outside.
- The restaurant is nice but pricey. If you can and like; bring your own drinks and snacks. They cannot be eaten in the restaurant, but there is also a common area outside.
Ijsbeelden festival Zwolle