On first hearing of an outdoor festival in London at this time of year, my first instinct is to stay indoors. However, when it comes to the London Ice Sculpting Festival, a freezing weekend in January proved the perfect conditions for such a spectacle. Although a week earlier the temperatures were quite mild and pleasant, it was just as well they plummeted to a few degrees over freezing in time for a festival of this type. I journeyed to Canary Wharf – admittedly a strange place to be on a weekend – for the final day of the free, three-day festival. I was astounded by how popular it was – the cold clearly hadn’t put off hundreds, if not thousands of people, including lots of families, keen to see these temporary art structures. The festival proved such a draw there was a long queue of people waiting to get on to Wood Wharf, where the centre of the festival was taking place.
Given the lack of snow we have in London, most of my encounters with ice sculptures have been just a solitary one in a nightclub as some kind of promotion or quirky shot dispenser so it was interesting to see such a variety on show. Sculptors from the UK, USA, France, Hungary, Bulgaria, Spain, Sweden, Netherlands, Latvia, Belgium and Portugal were competing in different contests, including Doubles, Freestyle and Singles. As well as getting the chance to watch the ice sculptors in action and see their stunning work, there was also the opportunity for visitors to try their hand at sculpting with the Ice Graffiti Wall or take a masterclass. When it got too cold – and it was freezing on Sunday – there were plenty of food and drink stands to help warm up.