The Jerusalem Ice Festival

I’ve never been to an ice festival before – and actually never considered going to one – until I learned about Jerusalem’s Ice Festival from my friend Ayelet from All Colores. Unlike many other events in my life, this one was perfectly timed, as I am in Israel currently and planned a trip to Jerusalem for a few days in April, when the ice festival was in swing. Let’s do it, I said to Ayelet.

And so we did.

I apologize for the quality of these photos. The temperature at the festival was -10 Celcius, or 14 Fahrenheit, which caused my camera shoot in hues of red and blue. Although I have edited the photos, I assure you the sculptures at the ice festival look much better than you’ll see here.

Ice Castle at Jerusalem Ice Fest

Artists from China flew to Jerusalem to participate in the festival and help the Israeli artists hone their craft, which resulted in a distinctly Chinese flavour to much of the festival.

Mao-Tse tung at the Jerusalem Ice Festival

Unlike myself who would rather be disintegrating from the heat in the Persian Gulf than wandering around a frozen building anywhere, Ayelet is a huge fan of unbearably frigid weather, and this is as good as it gets in Israel. I don’t know when the last time was that I saw someone this happy.

Ayelet Weisz from All Colores

I, on the other hand, was grinning, bearing it and wistfully remembering what heat felt like.

Me at the Jerusalem Ice Festival

Where did we get those wonderful, warm coats? They have tables full of them at the ice festival entrance. You absolutely have to wear one if you are going to survive inside. I was aided in staying warm by a very kind man at my hostel, who loaned me his down jacket, hat and gloves. Without them I would have lasted only 15 minutes.

I thought this little scene inside an igloo was just charming and my favorite part of the display.

Aquatic Interior of Igloo

In addition to China, sea life was another theme at the Jerusalem Ice Festival. I wonder how they color the ice.

Aquatic scene at the Jerusalem Ice Festival

Underwater life at the Jerusalem Ice Festival

The Jurassic Period was also featured at the Jerusalem Ice Festival, including this dinosaur eating its prey.

Dinosaur made of ice eating its prey

Another favorite of mine was this waterfall near the exit, with colorful lights flashing to indicate moving water. Because, of course, real water would have frozen.

Waterfall of ice at the Jerusalem Ice Festival

The most surprising piece of art at this exhibit was undoubtedly the tribute to President Obama. I was here when he visited the country last month for the first time in his four-year presidency and saw how much it meant to Israelis. This piece of ice art helps show their appreciation as well their hope that President Obama is indeed united with Israel.

Israel welcomes President Obama

The Jerusalem Ice Festival runs for approximately ten weeks each year. This year’s exhibit is from February 20 to April 30. There is also an acrobatic ice show and 450-metre ice skating rink. Tickets to the ice festival or the acrobatic show are 70 Shekels, or approximately 19 USD.

9 Comments Post a Comment
  1. You got a much better angle of the first sculpture than I did, and I laughed out loud when I read your descriptions of our reactions to the freezing temperatures. I could so live there!

    I think it’s really important to emphasize (hmm!) that the coats they give you there are great, but anything except sufficient. Like you said, you need extra warm clothes, and if you’re not used the cold – several layers and even thermal clothes.

    I had such a great time with you, Sabina, I hope we can do it again :)
    Ayelet – All Colores recently posted..The Surprising Walk to the Devil’s ThroatMy Profile

  2. Sabina says:

    Hi Ayelet – yes, you definitely need warm clothes underneath the warm winter coat passed out at the ice festival. I wouldn’t have made it without a hat and gloves. Fortunately, the festival takes place in the winter and spring, so probably people traveling here during that time will have warm clothes with them. This is not something you can undertake unprepared.

  3. Shalu Sharma says:

    Wow, looks fabulous. I am sure my kids would love it. Never been to an ice festival before. Would love to go there some day. Love the pictures.
    Shalu Sharma recently posted..Dilli Haat – The open air food and craft bazaar of DelhiMy Profile

  4. Heather says:

    I would LOVE to see that festival! As a Canadian, I try to pride myself by being tough in the cold, but I must admit I can be kind of a wussy when it comes to below zero. Especially if I’m used to some hot climates. Ice sculptures are always fun to see, and there are some great creative ones in your photos. :)
    Heather recently posted..Why I Won’t Visit a Salon in Calgary AgainMy Profile

  5. Sabina says:

    Thanks, Shalu. I have nothing to compare it to since this was my first ice festival, but I thought it was very impressive, especially taking place in the hot hot Middle East.

  6. Sabina says:

    Hi Heather – I’m a New Englander and am tough in the cold too, but I never would have made it through this festival without winter gear. It was frozen solid. This was indeed a very creative festival, with a very surprising Obama sculpture at the exit.

  7. Krista says:

    This is such a cool event to attend! :-) I loved hearing about it from Ayelet, and now I get your perspective as well. :-) I can only imagine how much work went into making these gorgeous sculptures. They must have been amazing in real life. :-)
    Krista recently posted..Viking Tea, Hungarian Beads, and A Medieval BreakfastMy Profile

  8. Sabina says:

    Hi, Krista – yes, I imagine a great deal of work went into the sculptures. If you ever get a chance to go to an ice festival, you should do it :)

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