Alberta’s Enchanting Ice Magic Festival


One of the highlights for those visiting Alberta during the winter season is its annual Ice Magic Festival. For three days in January, ice carvers from around the world travel to Lake Louise in Banff National Park to create ornate works of art out of large blocks of ice. With brute strength and precision, these “ice magicians” spend hours in the cold taking chainsaws, chisels, and ice chippers to chunks of ice to form frozen masterpieces to wow judges and spectators alike.

In addition to being artistically gifted, the competitors must understand the science behind working with this frozen medium. Multiple blocks of ice are given to these carvers who are then responsible for cutting and refreezing it to suit their finished product. Unlike the ice you’d find in a cocktail, the water that’s used to form this competition-grade ice is created in a special freezer and frozen from the bottom up. This ensures that there will be no impurities, like air bubbles. When these artists are finished carving, the sculptures can weigh several thousand pounds!

If you can see the Ice Magic Festival at night, we suggest making it out one evening to do just that. Once the sun goes down, the sculptures are lit up, making the scene that much more spectacular. Though the beauty of these statues is ephemeral ­– remaining in place as long as the weather permits – it is still an unforgettable display of art. It helps that it’s in an unbelievable setting, too. With our Canada’s Winter Wonderland tour, this is just one of the magical experiences you’ll get to enjoy.

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