'Ice Artisans' and Natural Glaciers Stand Out in Canada

Published January 14th, 2019 - 11:47 GMT
Frozen castles in William Hawrelak Park in Edmonton (J.Chowacki/Twitter)
Frozen castles in William Hawrelak Park in Edmonton (J.Chowacki/Twitter)

'Ice artisans' have created incredible ice structures which stand at more than 40ft-tall.

The frozen castles in William Hawrelak Park in Edmonton, Canada look like natural glaciers but are made by hand from thousands of individual icicles.

The structures took up to 30 builders around 10,000 man-hours to create - and even have slides, thrones, fire pits, dancing LED lights and water fountains built into them.

They were painstakingly made icicle by icicle and some of the mammoth strictures were formed from up to 10,000 of the ice spikes.

The icicles are grown on racks which are sprayed throughout the night and left to freeze in a process which starts in October and lasts until late November.


Builders then place the icicle-like building blocks until the structure is around 40ft tall.

Next they shape and form the castles.

Ice Castles, the company which build the structures then open to the public in January through to March, at which point they are bulldozed and left to melt.

The beautiful images of the towering ice fortresses were captured by photographer Joe Chowaniec who said temperatures can drop to around -15 degrees Celsius.

The 50 year old, who lives in the local area, said: 'The day I took the photos it was around seven degrees Celsius, but ideal temperatures for building are around -8C to -15C.

'Each location has a crew of approximately 20 to 30 builders who put in a combined 4,000 to 10,000 man-hours over a period of four to six weeks constructing the ice castles.

'We call them crew ice artisans because they are truly making a work of art from ice.

'At the end of the season in March, they bulldoze it down and let it melt.

'They rebuild it each year from scratch so each castle is completely different.

'They start in October by getting the groundwork ready and by late November they start the icicle building process again.

'It is truly something to see - you can go multiple times, different times of the day in different weather conditions and experience something completely different each time.

'My favourite time to visit is about an hour before sunset and watching it light up as the sun rises.'

Crew members often refer to themselves as icicle farmers or ice builders.

Icicles are grown on racks, sprayed with water overnight then harvested each morning.

Up to 10,000 icicles are harvested and hand-placed using a patented process to build the castles.

The hand-placed icicles are then sprayed with water before the process is repeated over and over again until the ice reaches a height of around 20ft to 40ft.

Throughout the season, the ice artisans continue to build the castles and maintain the integrity of the ice structures.

Daily tasks include grooming the castle's floor, which is made up of crushed ice and snow.

Crawl spaces are carved out for guests to move around the castles and this process also ensures the slides and throne are maintained.

This often requires additional chiselling or carving throughout the season.

At night fire dances are held within the structures.

Hundreds of thousands of visitors come to the six different locations throughout North America where Icy Castles make the structures including Colorado and New Hampshire.


This article has been adapted from its original source.

© Associated Newspapers Ltd.

You may also like