Snow Time Like the Present…Snow Sculpting and Other Winter Amusements

Snow Sculpting Champions

Snow sculptors are a different breed of artist.

They typically practice their craft outdoors, often in full view of spectators. They’re really a type of performance artist.

Their sculptures are usually carved out of a single block of densely packed snow, ranging in height from six to 15 feet on each side. Each block can weigh about 20 to 30 tons.

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They create their masterpieces using a variety of tools: shovels, hatchets, saws, chisels and drills. And they’re passionate about their art.

Championship Material

In the United States alone, there are several national and international snow sculpting displays and championships held each year. Here are just a few of them:

St. Paul Winter Carnival

The St. Paul (Minn.) Winter Carnival is the country’s oldest and largest winter festival. It all began in 1885, when a New York Times reporter suggested that St. Paul was “another Siberia, unfit for human habitation.” To prove him wrong, the city held its first festival the following year.

The carnival is best known for its immense ice palace, but also features other snow and ice sculpting competitions.

In addition to snow and ice sculpting, the St. Paul carnival also features a winter run, snow plow competition and disc golf “Ice Bowl.” This year’s carnival runs from January 25 through February 10.

MTU Winter Carnival

Michigan Technological University’s Annual Winter Carnival has been a tradition since 1922. Each year’s carnival has a set theme, and the sculptures are created within that theme. Student groups compete against each other in different divisions.

Here’s a clip of last year’s winners:




Instead of being carved from a single block, MTU’s snow sculptures use many blocks that are made over the course of a month. As a result, the finished product is usually quite large — up to 28 feet tall and about 123 feet long.

The 2018 MTU Winter Carnival runs from February 7 to 10.


Every year, Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, plays host to the U.S. National Snow Sculpting Competition during its annual Winterfest.

Teams of three are comprised of snow sculptors from all over the country, and winners are selected by the teams themselves, but teams cannot vote for their own work.

Sculptures are judged according to creativity, technique and message. In addition to gold, silver and bronze winners, there are two other categories.

Previous winners are invited to pick their favorites, and Winterfest attendees select a “People’s Champion.”

This year’s festival runs from January 27 through February 4.

Breckenridge International Snow Sculpture Championship

Want something a bit closer to home? Look no further than Breckenridge, Colorado. Begun in 1990 by a team of local snow sculptors, the Breckenridge International Snow Sculpture Championship features sculptors from across the globe.

Last year’s competition included entrants from Mongolia, Sweden, China, India, Turkey, Mexico, Iceland, Finland, Italy and all over the U.S.  Though no prize money is awarded, all teams receive travel stipends, meals and lodging.

Recognized as one of the world’s most prestigious snow sculpting events, these international teams are known for taking risks and coming together in the spirit of global competition and camaraderie.

Take a look:




St. Paul Festival and Heritage Foundation

Michigan Technological University



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