Experiencing the Ice Art Championships in Fairbanks

a sign with lights on it

My trip to see the Iditorad and Northern Lights was perfectly timed as it also overlapped with the BP World Ice Art Championships taking place in Fairbanks. Now if you are as uninformed as I was, you might be thinking “hmmmm…”

It didn’t sound exciting and it was only luck that I didn’t miss out on this unique event. When figuring out what to see with our limited time, we had narrowed it down to the Fairbanks Ice Park or the Ice Bar at the Aurora Ice Museum. As tempting as sipping a signature apple martini out of a glass carved from ice was, the reviews suggested the cheesy appeal might not be worth the 3 hour round trip drive, especially with world class carvings only 10 minutes away.

a building with ice sculptures in front of it

I didn’t know what to expect really. I was impressed by the carvings driving in and a little nonplussed by view immediately past the ticket booth. I also was not particularly excited about an outside toilet, even if it was heated.

a yellow sign on a wooden fence

The first thing we saw was the Kids Ice Park which featured cleverly carved ice slides and even a little house complete with ice throne.

a group of people standing outside of a building

a woman sitting on a bench in an ice room

Definitely cute. But then we headed for the woods to the Single Block entries. And immediately I had my mind blown. I was used to the occasional ice sculpture at receptions. I had no idea they could be this detailed or this beautiful.

a sculpture of ice in the snow

a fish made of ice

a sculpture of a dragon in the snow

Or strange.

a ice sculpture of a shark teeth and a chain

After meandering through the wooded area we headed to the outskirts to watch some of the multi-block competitors in action.

people working on an ice sculpture

a man holding a chainsaw in front of a large block of ice

If you have access to a sled or cardboard, definitely bring it along as they also have a giant ice slide for all ages that looked like a lot of fun, but not something I was going to attempt without a raft of some kind.

After two hours we were freezing, so headed back to the condo for a few hours before we returned to take it all in at night. The $15 daily admission includes unlimited re-entries so if you have the time it’s definitely worth visiting in daylight and twilight.

a sign with lights on it

a group of ice sculptures in the snow

It is pretty spectacular at night with all the colored lights illuminating and reflecting off the sculptures.

a turtle made of ice

a woman posing in a snow sculpture
my personal plane
a person lying on a shoe made of ice
gotta pose in the big high heel!

And some of the single block carvings took on a whole new look in low light.

a ice sculpture of a cello a ice sculpture of a violin

a ice sculpture with lights

a statue of a man holding a ring in his hand

a ice sculpture of a man and a woman

a statue of a woman riding a swan

a structure made of ice and snow

One of my favorites was the free range chickens entry which were more likely to be found throughout the park than in their enclosure.

a chicken sculpture in the snow

Aaaand we got photo bombed by a little girl eager to ride the ice dogs when we tried posing in the sled.

a person standing in front of a large ice sculpture

But it was amazing, especially with the Northern Lights lighting up the horizon as we left. My pictures turned out pretty well but hardly do the sculptures justice.

An Ice Day was definitely had by all!

a woman in a puffy coat leaning on a wooden door

So glad we picked the Fairbanks Ice Park over the Ice Bar, though I’m sure I’ll check it out some day. I would say this is not to be missed if you’re in town. Just make sure you bundle up. Even at 20 degrees and bright sun, it was COLD!

More from this trip

The San Juan Airport Doesn’t Want You to Find the Hotel
Snow for the Iditarod
BBQ & Fat Birds in Anchorage

Seeing the Northern Lights in Alaska
Is Anchorage to Fairbanks One of the Most Scenic Flights Ever?


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