A shotgun start on Jan. 22, 2013, will signal the start of the annual International Snow Sculpture Championships in Breckenridge, Colorado. Sixteen snow-carving teams from around the world will create works of art from frozen blocks of snow, to be on display from Jan. 27 through Feb. 3, weather permitting.

The teams of four hail from such countries as Australia, Austria, Canada, China, Germany, Mexico, the Netherlands, Sweden and the United States. The home teams include two from Colorado (from Breckenridge and Loveland), as well as Alaska, Vermont and Wisconsin.

Each snow sculpting team has 65 hours to carve their creation out of a 20-ton block of snow.

One Breckenridge team is the original group that founded the International Snow Sculpture Championships in 1990. Now, it is a fun, free event that includes four days of sculpting, awards ceremony and weeklong viewing, attracting 30,000 people.

“The Breckenridge International Snow Sculpture Championships offers the opportunity to witness living sculptures, fleeting works of art that don’t stick around,” said Rob Neyland, one of the event’s founders. “That’s the joy of it. It’s the transitory nature of the art form that makes this event so special.”

Breckenridge’s snow-carving tradition originally happened during the town’s Ullr Fest, dedicated to the Viking god of winter. This year’s Ullr festival will be held Jan. 6-12, 2013, cuing up the snow sculpture carving activities.

Each team is assigned a 12-foot-tall, 20-ton block of machine-made snow. Artists have a mere 65 hours to finish their carvings, using only hand tools, ingenuity and intense effort to form their creations.

Once the competition is over, the fruits of their labor go on display. Breckenridge adds a little extra for those viewing the amazing creations, with an eco-friendly LED lighting system that washes the white sculptures with colored hues.


Breckenridge’s Ullr Fest is a winter celebration originally dedicated to the Viking god of winter.

If You Go

International Snow Sculpture Championships and Viewing WeekThis free event will be held at the Riverwalk Center, 150 W. Adams Ave. Visitors can watch the sculptures take shape during the International Snow Sculpture Championships – Jan. 22-26 – or check out the finished pieces during viewing week – Jan. 27 through Feb. 3.

For more information, visit: www.townofbreckenridge.com

Ullr FestFor more winter fun, check out the Ullr Fest – Breckenridge’s other snow tradition – where skiers and boarders wear Viking hats (horns and all), competitors fling frying pans for the Ullympic contest and the Ullr Parade prances down Main Street. www.gobreck.com/events/town-events/ullr-fest