One of the tourist spots at the top of my list was ICE Alaska, a month long ice sculpture competition in Fairbanks. Photos of previous years showed giant, intricate sculptures that looked unreal.
On our first day in Fairbanks, we drove over to this off-the-beaten-path spot. It’s a big muddy parking lot by late March, due to the warming weather.
The first thing we see?
A giant ice throne with a polar bear.
Nothing makes you feel like an Ice Queen like sitting in a throne with a pet polar bear.
Inside the complex there are over 50 different ice sculptures. The first area is an interactive one, with sculptures that you can sit on or slide down, meant for taking photos with and having fun.
The next area is a loop where the intricate competition pieces are displayed, with ribbons on the winning art. Some of the sculptures were truly amazing, in their detail or size. Unfortunately, as we came on the final weekend of display, many of the sculptures had already fallen or were quickly melting, so it wasn’t as magnificent as when they were originally carved.
Still, I was very impressed. There are small igloos and houses made of ice, plus, a set of 5 large slides that kids race down on sleds. We didn’t have any plastic sleds with us (you have to bring your own), but a kind mother nearby overheard that we were visiting from Texas and let us borrow one of their spare sleds to try out the slides.
They are incredibly fast! It feels a little crazy and dangerous, but that’s exactly why all the kids were screaming and having a blast.
There is even an area where an ice sculptor works all day, to show you how they carve and answer questions you might have about the process.
At night, there are lights to intensify the display, making the entire show feel even more magical.
ICE Alaska was well worth the admission – ours was discounted due to the exhibits melting, but I’d have gladly paid full price.
Unfortunately, ICE Alaska will not be showing in 2018 due to a fire that affected their funding and property; but they have plans to return in 2019.