Frozen masterpieces

Enjoy art in the coolest way possible at the International Snow Sculpture Championships in Breckenridge


Each January, Breckenridge welcomes snow sculptors from across the globe to compete in the International Snow Sculpture Championships. Four teammates are allotted 94 hours to carve 20-ton blocks of ice, measuring 12 feet high, into frozen masterpieces. Each June, the festival committee sends out 250 invitations and a selection committee then decides which teams to invite. Teams are only able to use hand tools such as vegetable peelers, chicken wire, and small saws — no power tools allowed.

In 2022, nine teams competed, six from the United States, one from Ecuador, one from Mexico, and one from Germany. Gold, silver, and bronze medals are awarded to three winning teams. Two additional prizes are also granted, one for the People’s Choice Award and one for the Lothar Luboschik Artists’ Choice Award. There is no cash prize, only glory. 

Massive amounts of work go into creating the blocks. Breckenridge Resort makes the snow and the Town of Breckenridge Public Works hauls it to the event site via dump trucks. Once in the town, volunteers stomp the snow into condensed blocks. 

The ice festival returns to Breckenridge from Jan. 23-Feb. 1, 2023, but teams have yet to be announced.  Viewing is open from Jan. 27-Feb. 1.

To whet your whistle for this year’s 59th annual Snow Sculpture Championship, here are some photos from last year’s competition.  

Aaron Dodds The Boy Who Believed He Could Fly’ by Team Breckenridge. Inspiration: “The imagination of a child allows dreams to become real.” 
Aaron Dodds Team USA Wisconsin (Tomczak) took home the gold medal, for their sculpture, “The Digital Divide,” which depicts a human hand and a robotic hand, connected through a binary sequence of perforated zeros and ones. The team describes their design as, “Is it live? Is it digital? Can we really tell any longer?”
Aaron Dodds Team Mexico’s sculpture titled, “King of Thrones,” won the People’s Choice Award.


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