The POZnan Ice Festival: Poznan’s ice sculpture festival

The only thing that could be considered”Ice sculpture” that we had seen was some table decoration at some wedding. We had never seen Ice sculptures so big. And we had never considered how ice was sculpted. Have you ever wondered about it? So, when the possibility arose to attend the Poland’s largest ice sculpture festival –one of the most important in Europe–, the POZnan Ice Festival, we do not doubt it. In fact, despite the cold, because otherwise not, but the ice was beautifully preserved at zero degrees at night in Poznan, we came three days in a row to see the artists in full work.

Jumping in front of an ice sculpture in Poznan

From chainsaws to blowtorches and from small figures full of details to speed competitions in which to prove everything in half an hour. Without forgetting the main course, all the ice you need and almost a whole day to create the final piece. Along the way we find sculptures in other areas of the city. Do you want to ride an ice horse? In Poznan you can.

Put on your heaviest coat, the fattest socks, the warmest hat and forget about the cold for a while. Of course, gloves and cameras or mobiles do not get along. You will suffer a little if you want to take a souvenir to teach home.


Let it not be said that we are only going to make you cold in the city … Check out our essentials what to see in Poznan. And, since you will be going at that time, it will not be the only thing to enjoy in Poznan at Christmas.

The POZnan Ice Festival: one of the most important ice sculpture festivals in Europe

If you’ve never seen a Ice Sculpture Festivalthe POZnan Ice Festival It’s the perfect introduction. For three days, artists from all over the world gather in the Polish city, since the first edition in 2006, to show what they are capable of doing with something as “trivial” as frozen water. And, when we say everybody, we mean everybody. In the edition we saw there were Canadians, Mexicans, Spaniards, French, Germans, Filipinos… and, of course, Poles.

POZnan Ice Festival Logo
It could not be otherwise, the logo of the POZnan Ice Festival is carved in ice

This mixture of origins makes the Ice sculptures are of the most varied: from a Mexican Catrina to a Canadian Native American, through religious images, dragons, moons … Of course, although the final result is incredible, the most impressive thing is to see how they create them.

We have already said that we had never considered How ice is sculpted And we got a surprise when we saw them start the chainsaws and start cutting blocks. This is how they give the initial form. Then came the Chisels and the Hammers. The Milling machines And some left us with our mouths open by throwing fire with a blowtorch about his sculptures to give them more transparency.

Christmas Poznan Ice Festival Dragon
Fire is also used to make ice sculptures

To all this, the feet begin to lose sensitivity and the fingers of the hands take time to respond when taking the photo … But no one wants to walk away from that show. Neither did we, and there we stayed and came back and came back for the three days. Next to the stage is also placed a Christmas market in which to regain strength with typical Polish food or mulled wine.

Program and dates

The POZnan Ice Festival it was traditionally held in the Old Market Square. In 2021, when it was us, it went out of the center to the Hala Arena and in 2022 it will be in the area of the Poznan Expo. It takes place at Early December. The days vary a bit to fit the weekend, usually held Friday, Saturday and Sunday. In 2022 the dates will be December 9, 10 and 11. Three days, but each day a different “test” takes place.

The first, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., takes place on Single block competition. Each sculptor receives a block of ice of the same size and can create whatever he wants. That’s where creativity comes in and where everyone’s roots appear – the Catrina and the Native American, for example.

Christmas Poznan Ice Festival Catrina
A Mexican Catrina at the POZnan Ice Festival

The second is held on Speed Ice Carving. As its name suggests, here the thing is about speed. It is a test in which two sculptors face each other: same amount of ice, same design to create and same time to do it. At the end of the time, a jury decides which one goes to the next round.

On the third day comes the Main test. All the ice you need, all the creative freedom you want, and eight hours of time to take the idea design to the ice.

POZnan Ice Festival Dragon Goat
A dragon and a goat at the end of the single-block test

And the children? Well, in addition to having a lot of fun watching adults carve the ice, they also have their competition. On the third day, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., future generations of ice sculptors also shine at the POZnan Ice Festival.

You can see the full program in more detail in its Official website.

The competition with a block of ice

Our first contact with the POZnan Ice Festival It was on his first day and with his first “test”. We weren’t prepared to see how A rectangular block of ice turned into a dragon. Moreover, thanks to the fact that we were present throughout the process, because, otherwise, it would have seemed impossible for him to have left there. It was at that moment when we discovered the use of chainsaws, when we hallucinated with some artists who sculpted with their bare hands on the ice, when we were surprised by the originality of the designs or when we loved to see the good atmosphere among the competitors who lent themselves the tools without problem.

POZnan Ice Festival Chainsaw
Giving it your all with the chainsaw in the single-block test

Three hours to stay with our mouths open, feet numb, fingers icy… and looking forward to returning the next day.

The speed competition

If the first day we hallucinated with what they were capable of doing, the second it was difficult for us to accept that they were capable of doing it in only half an hour –Yes, only 30 minutes!– and starting from a design they did not know. We were caught by the dynamics of the test. Despite the cold, every time a round ended, we looked at each other and, without needing to say anything, decided to stay for the next one.

POZnan Ice Festival Speed Carving
Sculpting the elf with a chainsaw, 30 minutes do not give for frills

So until the final in which they had to sculpt a Goblin holding a ball. Crazy! 30 minutes to turn a block of ice into a goblin – with his pointed hat and all – holding a ball. And they did, and the ball was almost perfectly round and they even put a tassel on the tip of the cap.

The competition starts at 12 noon and ends at 6 p.m.. We arrived at about 16:00 – 16:30 to watch the final rounds.

The main competition: the great ice sculptures

We have to confess that we missed the end. We spent three days in Poznan, but the last one we had to continue our journey and we could only see the start of the work in the morning. We arrived at the time when They stacked the blocks of ice and joined them together. with water to form the complete piece with which to then work. Because on the third day there is no limit but imagination… well, and Eight hours of time. Although, after seeing what they were able to do in half an hour, eight hours is a lifetime.

  POZnan Ice Festival Final Test
Stacking the ice blocks for the final test

We didn’t see the final result, but we did see some greatdes ice sculptures placed in the city, like a horse at the nearby Ułan Browar brewery. The good thing about winter – actually, late autumn – in Poznan is that the ice sculptures don’t fall apart overnight…

Wear all the warm clothes you have, because you will not want to get away from the artists of the POZnan Ice Festival. The ice sculptures will catch you like we do.

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