Jukkasjärvi, innorthern Sweden, is home to the world’s largest Ice and Snow Hotel. Each winter, some 50 000 visitors travel to the ICEHOTEL which is located just 200 km from the Arctic Circle. The hotel is constructed from 2,000 tonnes of Torne River ice and 30,000 tonnes of snice, a mixture of snow and ice that strengthens the structure. Some 100 people are involved in the construction of ICEHOTEL, half of which are artists especially invited to design particular areas of the hotel.
ICEHOTEL is open to the public as an art exhibition. Those who wish can join on a guided tour of the Main Hall, Art Suites and Ice Rooms. ICEHOTEL 2012/2013 will have 65 guest rooms and will be open from 7 December. They close in mid-April, when ICEHOTEL slowly begins to melt and becomes the world’s most modern ruin. http://icehotel.com/
The History of ICEHOTEL
During the 1980s the company Jukkas, now ICEHOTEL, conducted tourism activities during the summer months and became, as an innovator and leader in its niche, the first tourism operator in Europe to offer organized whitewater rafting. Business was quiet during the winter months, however, and no one thought it could be otherwise. “Who would want to travel here to the cold, snow and darkness?” locals reasoned. But Yngve Bergqvist, founder of ICEHOTEL, had a different idea.
Inspired by Japanese ice sculpture, he invited artists from Norrbotten to participate in a workshop in 1989. Two sculptors from Hokkaido, Japan, were instructors and the first ice sculptures were created on the shore of the Torne River in Jukkasjärvi. An igloo, built using a mould-forming technique, was the first specially designed ice-and-snow structure to be erected here. The 60-square-metre igloo was named ARTic Hall, and many curious visitors came to Jukkasjärvi to see art exhibited in the igloo. The following year, the technique was refined and the new version of ARTic Hall covered 250 square metres. The construction technique was patented in both Sweden and Norway.
Next, Yngve Bergqvist and his associates held evening church services, showed films, opened a bar and even tried sleeping in subzero temperatures inside the igloo. Needless to say, the igloo attracted considerable attention. Sweden’s king first visited the igloo in March 1992. Since then, he and the royal family have guested ICEHOTEL several times.
The first party of overnight guests to stay at ICEHOTEL was a Swedish Armed Forces survival group. The first conference group came from Vesatel, an international space satellite company. Lars Byström and 15 guests slept in sleeping bags on reindeer hides. The indoor temperature was minus five Celsius, and they awoke thrilled and exhilarated. ICEHOTEL was born. –