A winter experience at The Great Ice Show in Winnipeg, Manitoba
with snow and ice sculptures, tobogganing and more
The Great Ice Show at The Forks Historic Site was a new winter experience in Winnipeg, Manitoba in 2016. The display which opened January 25, 2016 was inspired by a winter festival in China. Fifty specially trained Chinese ice artisans arrived Christmas Day to begin sculpting, shaving, and chain-sawing. The show was not repeated in 2017 and there are currently no plans for a future show.
The show featured a collection of snow and ice sculptures, an ice slide, several tobogganing runs, bumper cars, and special activities, with clowns and face painting on the weekends. Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to see any of the ice sculpting workshops. Music played (country music when I was there). There was an ice bar and a heated food tent offering non-alcoholic drinks and food (crepes, soup, and chile) from Mon Ami Louis restaurant. The sculptures were lit up at night with LED lights in the sculptures and with flood lights. I arrived in the late afternoon in order to see the show in the last bits of daylight and as dusk settled in.
The initial plan was to harvest ice for the sculptures from the Red River adjacent to The Forks site. Winnipeg’s El Nino’s winter had a late start and this wasn’t possible. A lagoon was created for ice-making. Winter did arrive to keep the show going. Nine artists continued to do work and repairs on the sculptures as needed throughout the festival. The organizers said that as long as temperatures stay below -5 Celsius (23 Fahrenheit) the sculptures won’t melt. I visited near the end of February. We’d had a number of days of mild temperatures over the past week, getting up to 0 Celsius. I could see some melting around the edges of some sculptures but most of the sculptures retained their shape.