A sneak peek at the sculptures coming to Manchester’s Ice Village this Christmas

It’s almost time for you to dig out your Christmas jumper and start getting festive with those family members you only see twice a year. And what better event to sink your teeth into for some festive fun than Manchester’s Ice Village, Britain’s first ever dedicated ice attraction.

For two months over the festive season, Manchester’s Cathedral Gardens will become the backdrop for the ice extravaganza which will feature an Ice Sculpture Cavern, a fully equipped Ice Bar, an Ice Rink perfect for any skating fans, a Santa’s Grotto for the kids and a Woodland Market featuring traditional Christmas stalls, winter games, and live festive entertainment.

A specialist team of the world’s best ice artists have been working on hundreds of intricate sculptures since July.

Pic Hayley Gibbs

As the artists continue to work their magic to bring the Ice Village to life over the next few weeks, we were offered a sneak peek at some of the sculptures ahead of the grand opening in November.

The village’s jaw-dropping main feature is The Ice Cavern. Starting with a steam train carved entirely from ice – from its giant wheels to its tiny switches – the train alone is made up of hundreds of individually sculpted ice pieces.

And with a nod to suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst, accompanying the train is a female train driver brandishing a ‘Votes for Women’ badge. Could it get any more Manchester?

The stunning Santa ice sculpture on its own weighs a staggering 1.5 tonnes – the same weight as a hippo – so you can only imagine the sheer amount of work and effort put into the entire Ice Village.

And, of course Rudolph’s nose will be red – made of ice that’s been coloured using poster paint.

Sculpted in refrigerated shipping containers, the tools used by the artists to hand carve each block of ice combine the old and the new. Japanese Samurai chisels are used alongside modern day power tools and computer aided machinery to create the finished masterpieces.

Inside the Arctic Bar, guests will discover an Arctic explorers base camp full of lanterns, benches, barrel tables and lots more intricate features. And whether yours is a boozy festive hot toddy or you’re more of a hot choc and marshmallows kind of person, this bar has something for everyone.

Having fun at the Ice Village is of paramount importance to its creators so they have created a host of traditional winter games and activities for you to take part in.

Hook-an-iceberg is a bespoke Ice Village version of the classic hook-a-duck, as well as the traditional coconut shy with an ice village twist. And there will be lots of other little features throughout the village including funhouse style mirrors and other playful aspects.

And for those Christmas fanatics that just can’t wait until Father Christmas pays them a visit on the Christmas Day, why not go and see the man himself at the traditional Santa’s Grotto. His Christmasy log cabin is perfect for storytelling sessions and every child receives a gift to remember their visit.

Before the Ice Village’s official launch, a huge polar bear will be carved entirely onsite by ice sculptors Jack Hackney and Nick Smith. And in total, a mammoth 250 tonnes of ice will have been used to create the full ice-tastic attractions.

The Ice Village will also have special takeover days. Smooth Radio DJ’s will be hosting an event from 7pm on Friday 9th November – and the Canal Street LGBT takeover is set for 6pm on Friday 23rd November, so expect lots of ice queens and rainbows this Christmas.

Taking place between 9th November – 5th January 2019, tickets are on sale now. Make sure you see it before it melts away!


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