A Brief History of the World Ice Art Championships

A Brief History of the World Ice Art Championships

The 2018 World Ice Championships are sadly canceled.  The group that runs the world’s biggest ice sculpture competition just announced that this year’s event will not be held as planned from February 26 through March 17.  Due to a fire, the competition has been cancelled for 2018. Despite the fact that the competition venue, the George Horner Park has planned to rebuild by mid-February, Ice Alaska, the non-profit organization that arranges the event, decided to cancel and return all donated money. The organization is diligently working to make sure the 2019 World Ice Art Championship goes on.

Here is a brief history of The World Ice Art Championships.


Ice Alaska began organizing an Ice Art competition where teams from around the world could create sculptures out of pure Alaskan ice. The first championship was held in 1991 and attracted a lot of attention. Sixteen teams competed that first winter and the event lasted one week. The Ice Art Championship has grown and now lasts a month each winter. Teams have grown and the event has attracted a growing international crowd. What began with sixteen teams of sculptors has grown to over seventy-five teams. Since 2012 the event has been held at George Horner Park in Fairbanks, Alaska. The ice blocks used for sculptures are harvested from the 80 foot deep O’Grady Pond. the ice is so clear, people call it Arctic Diamond.


The World International Ice Art Championship consists of three main competitions. Each of The three is divided into 2 subcategories, abstract and realistic. The first competition is The largest and is called The Single Block Contest. Two-person teams work with a 5 feet x 8 feet x 3 feet Ice block weighing over 7800 pounds. Each team has 2 days to complete their sculpture without use of any heavy machinery. Conoco Phillips sponsors this event.  The second competition is called The Multi-Block Classic.  teams of four work with twelve blocks measuring 4 feet x 4 feet x 3 feet. Heavy equipment can be used to create sculptures up to 20 tons and over 25 feet high.  The event is sponsored by British Petroleum.  The final competition is The Fairbanks Open. This third event is not judged but allows amateur Ice sculptors to work along famous artists.  The Championship has expanded to include youth competitors.

Things to do

Over the last 25 years, the World Ice Art Championship has grown into an international winter festival. Competitors and spectators not only enjoy viewing the ice sculptures but also many other events in the park and in and around Fairbanks. The festival has grown to include more than 100 sculptors from 30 countries and 50,000 spectators. George Horner Park includes a Kids’ Park each year. It includes slides, a maze, a skating rink and spinning cups all carved from Alaska ice. The park is built on 20 acres which includes the Alaska Railroad. Visitors can enjoy a tour of the park and surrounding beauty of Alaska on the Alaska Railroad Scenic Tour. There is also a nearby riverboat tour and ATV tours. Fairbanks has many interesting museums. Visitors can enjoy museums, shopping, dining and nightlife nearby the Ice Arts Festival.

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