Back to Ice Alaska

Back to Ice Alaska

I was surprised to realize I hadn’t attended the World Ice Art Championship in Fairbanks, Alaska, since 2012. On second thought, I might have gone in 2013 as well, but without taking any photos. Interestingly, Cat had never experienced it. Last night, we decided to visit, marking my first time at their new venue at the Tanana Valley Fairgrounds. With snow forecasted for this week, we knew the sculptures might lose some of their sparkle once covered. The multi-block and double-block sculptures were already complete, and we witnessed the artists adding final touches to their single-block sculptures. The atmosphere buzzed with the vibrant sounds of chainsaws and chisels.

“Killing Time” Artists: Chris Foltz, Ryan Anderson (Double-block)

The World Ice Art Championship has experienced several venue changes over its history. For many years, it was hosted on a site leased from the Alaska Railroad through 2011, off Philips Field Road. Following this period, the championship moved just down the road to the George Horner Ice Art Park. This change came before a dramatic moment in December 2016 when a fire devastated the main lodge, resulting in taking a year off and, eventually, another venue change to the Tanana Valley Fairgrounds.

“Important Thing” Artists: Hiroaki Kimura, Yoshiaki Kobayashi, Mio Takami, Takeshi Wada—I think this was my favorite multi-block sculpture (3rd Place), but unfortunately, it didn’t have any lighting, so I had to take a long exposure.

My feelings about the new venue are mixed, though mostly positive. The fairgrounds offered a more festive atmosphere but didn’t showcase the sculptures as effectively. While single-block artists were at work during our visit, viewing the completed multi-block and double-block sculptures was challenging. The crowded layout, akin to navigating a dense city of sculptures, provided a unique ambiance. However, the conflicting lighting somewhat detracted from the artwork.

“Frozen Tears” Artist: Anton Lazukin – Some of my favorite sculptures are the simple geometric ones with crystal clear ice. The best-lit pieces here were the ones with nothing behind them.

Despite these issues, the venue allowed for viewing sculptures from multiple angles, unlike the previous setup, where sculptures were simply lined up against a fence or trees. This aspect was a definite plus. While not as vibrant or colorful as in past visits, the lighting likely suffered due to the ongoing work. I’m eager to return later this week to see the fully revealed single-block sculptures, hoping for a better illumination that truly brings out their beauty.

“King of the Reef” Artists: Christopher Lantz and Brian Carter – Stunning detail in the ice!
“Run for your Life” Artists: Angelito Baban, Shannon Gerasimchik, Fermin Gomez, Louis Medlock (multi-block)

The festival runs until March 31, with the single-block competition awards happening tonight, March 4. The event also offers plenty of activities, including a beautifully lit ice park with games and slides carved from ice.

“Afternoon Snack” Artists: Isaac Rodrigues and Jack Volpe (double-block)
“Walk the Edge” Artist: Brian Carter (single-block in progress)
Cat playing ping-pong on the ice table

For more information about the festival or to plan a visit, check out Ice Alaska’s official website.

To see my photos from last night, visit my gallery at


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