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  • The Ice Sculpture Festival: An Interview with the Organization

    Starting from the 10th of December 2016, the Dutch Ice Sculpture Festival has opened its doors to the public in Amsterdam. The AmsterDO team dared to experience some real -10°C winter and walked through the winter wonderland with over 100 ice sculptures. Inspired by that cold beauty, we talked to one of the people behind the festival – Kirsten den Hertog.

    Keep reading as we are going to tell you how to win a couple of free tickets to the festival.


    Tell us a little bit about the history of the Ice Sculpture Festival.

    The festival has been held annually for 8 years already, but it was only held in Zwolle before. We could see that the event was attracting more and more people (last year we hit the number of 100,000 visitors!), so we decided to go bigger this time and moved the festival to Amsterdam. Of course, the public is different here compared to Zwolle due to a huge number of tourists visiting the capital. Everything’s bigger here, and we are very excited about it!

    How many artists do you have, and how do you usually work with them?

    This year we have 42 artists who come from all over the world: Canada, the UK, Russia, other countries. As we have a different theme every year (in 2016, it’s music), we usually have some ideas for how everything should look like and communicate them to the artists. However, we never give them strict requirements, so they have enough space for creativity and work on their sculptures with enthusiasm.

    Could you share something about the process of ice carving?

    It’s always different as every artist has their own style. Some of them just grab a chainsaw and get to work. Others start by making marks on the ice cube and only after that, very carefully, start cutting. Besides, it depends on the sculpture itself. Some of them might be huge but easy to make, and others, even the little ones, might have so many details that it takes weeks to finish them. Of course, every sculpture used to be just a block of ice or snow in the beginning. We usually try to carve a sculpture in a single piece as otherwise you can clearly see the lines where it was glued.

    Where do you get the ice from?

    We transport it from the south of France as they can provide the quality we need: crystal clear and solid ice without any bubbles or other defects in it. Of course, getting the ice from there is quite expensive, hard and time-consuming (just imagine how long it takes to transport 275,000 kilos of ice!), but the quality is well worth it. The catch is you need really good ice to carve sculptures from it; otherwise, it will break. As for the snow, we can make it here. This year, we have 275,000 kilos of snow.


    What do you do with the sculptures after the festival ends?

    Believe it or not, we used to drop them in the canals. Lots of people came to watch it and helped us too, so it became some kind of a show. However, we are not able to do it this time. We are planning to put it on Marktplaats so if people need some ice they can get it. Otherwise, we have to melt it and make sure that water’s going somewhere.

    Could you tell us some anecdotes or weird stories about the festival?

    Well, we do have quite a couple of those. As an example, we mention on the website that dogs are allowed here as long as they don’t pee in the hall with ice sculptures because that happened. Also, people like touching sculptures, which can be crucial. We once had a sculpture of a woman and noticed that her breasts were getting smaller and smaller. Turned out, that was because people were touching them over and over again and they melted. The lesson here – ice sculptures are not for touching!

    What are your plans for the future of the Ice Sculpture Festival?

    We are planning on coming back next year with even more entertainment. Right now, we have some games for kids inside and outside of the hall with ice sculptures, as well as the slides inside it. Next year, we’re planning on adding an ice skate rink and a Christmas market. We want to make a real winter wonderland out of it!

    What tips would you give to the visitors?

    First of all, put on some warm clothes (lots of layers, preferably) and don’t forget about a scarf and mittens or gloves. It’s -10°C inside the hall, so it’s also a good idea not to spend a lot of time there. I’d recommend to go in for about half an hour and then leave to warm yourself up with a cup of hot chocolate. With your ticket, you get a stamp on your hand and can re-enter the place easily.

    That is the place where you can have a warm drink or grab a bite after visiting the hall with ice sculptures:


    Visit the official website of the Dutch Ice Sculpture Festival for more information, opening times and tickets. AmsterDO is giving away 2 tickets to the Ice Sculpture Festival on Facebook and 2 more – on Instagram. Follow a couple of simple instructions and find out how lucky you are! We’re announcing the winner on Tuesday, the 10th of January.


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