Feb 282016

The Great Ice Show

A winter experience at The Great Ice Show in Winnipeg, Manitoba
with snow and ice sculptures, tobogganing and more

The Great Ice Show at The Forks Historic Site was a new winter experience in Winnipeg, Manitoba in 2016. The display which opened January 25, 2016 was inspired by a winter festival in China. Fifty specially trained Chinese ice artisans arrived Christmas Day to begin sculpting, shaving, and chain-sawing. The show was not repeated in 2017 and there are currently no plans for a future show.

The Great Ice Show

The Great Ice Show snow sculpture

The show featured a collection of snow and ice sculptures, an ice slide, several tobogganing runs, bumper cars, and special activities, with clowns and face painting on the weekends. Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to see any of the ice sculpting workshops. Music played (country music when I was there). There was an ice bar and a heated food tent offering non-alcoholic drinks and food (crepes, soup, and chile) from Mon Ami Louis restaurant. The sculptures were lit up at night with LED lights in the sculptures and with flood lights. I arrived in the late afternoon in order to see the show in the last bits of daylight and as dusk settled in.

The Great Ice Show horse and cart

The Great Ice Show horse and cart

A toboggan slide at the Great Ice Show

Toboggan run with view of Canadian Museum for Human Rights in the background

The setting at The Forks offered views of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights on one side and views across the river to St. Boniface, Winnipeg’s French Quarter, on the other.

Manitoba Legislature replica at The Great Ice Show

40-foot replica of The Manitoba Legislature 

Up to the Manitoba Legislature slide at The Great Ice Show

People climbing ice stairs to the Legislature ice slide

The Great Ice Show in Winnipeg

Bumper cars in front of the 250 foot ice slide from the Manitoba Legislature replica with a view toward St. Boniface in the background

Sled at Great Ice Show

I posed for this photo but didn’t actually go down a toboggan run

The initial plan was to harvest ice for the sculptures from the Red River adjacent to The Forks site. Winnipeg’s El Nino’s winter had a late start and this wasn’t possible. A lagoon was created for ice-making. Winter did arrive to keep the show going. Nine artists continued to do work and repairs on the sculptures as needed throughout the festival. The organizers said that as long as temperatures stay below -5 Celsius (23 Fahrenheit) the sculptures won’t melt. I visited near the end of February. We’d had a number of days of mild temperatures over the past week, getting up to 0 Celsius. I could see some melting around the edges of some sculptures but most of the sculptures retained their shape.

elephant at The Great Ice Show

The Great Ice Show sculptures

The Great Ice Show

The Great Ice Show ice bar

Ice bar

The Great Ice Show

A trio of different shaped ice frames offered photo ops

The Great Ice Show

The Great Ice Show

The Great Ice Show


  28 Responses to “The Great Ice Show”

  1. Donna, how could you resist going down the toboggan run? Ha ha … I have not visited the ice show, but I walk/run by it often. Do you get the sense it has done well?

    • Deb, I wasn’t dressed appropriately for sliding – it would have been fun. I didn’t get any sense for whether the show has done well or not. I visited on a Monday and there weren’t a lot of other people there. I think it is most popular on weekends. It would be a fun visit with a family, but it isn’t cheap.

  2. What a shock to go from the heat in Panama to the cold in Canada but it looks like you’re holding up to the temperature extremes. Love your photos of Winnipeg’s Ice Show and it looks like it would be a great annual event for the area as long as the weather cooperates. My favorite sculpture is of the elephant but they’re all so creative! Anita

    • Anita, this is the first year this has been done in Winnipeg. I don’t know whether it will become an annual event – I imagine that depends on how financially successful it was. The day I visited the Ice Show was mild, but when we first returned from Panama, Winnipeg was in a deep freeze and it was a shock. My husband insists he is not spending any time in Winnipeg next winter. (If I feel a need to fly back from wherever we are and experience it, he’s fine with that, but he’s not coming with.)

  3. I love this! This is really the first Ice Show in Winnipeg?! It seems a natural for Winnipeg winters, although they did have some challenges with El Nino winter this year. Thanks for posting so many pictures – the show is wonderful, it really is a Great Ice Show!

    • Susan, it is the first time there has been an ice show like this in Winnipeg. You can find snow sculptures here and there through the city and an international snow sculpting symposium is part of Festival du Voyageur which occurs in mid February.

  4. Wow, well coming from 40 deg heat in Australia, this was a nice cool reading relief! The winter Ice Show in Winnipeg looks like a whole lot of fun. The sculptures and wintery colours are gorgeous.

    • Jo, it’s amazing what the sculptors can create out of ice. The lights make the sculptures really enchanting at night.

  5. OMG I am just going to miss it! I will arrive in Calgary on March 12! Too bad. I had long wanted to go to the China Ice Festival and here it would have been so accessible for me. I should have planned my trip a week earlier!

  6. The Great Ice Show is so reminiscent of the ice sculpture events at the St. Paul Winter Carnival which we enjoyed very much. I am amazed by the talent these sculptors display. It’s such a fun way to enliven short and dreary winter days.

  7. Oh this looks so enchanting! I remember the St Paul festival from my brief time living in Minneapolis as a kid, but this looks even more spectacular! I’m always bowled over by such talent!

  8. If you have to endure a Winnipeg winter, this Ice Show would almost make it tolerable. I hope it was financially successful enough for them to do it again, so maybe I can pay a quick visit some time. Your photos do the displays justice. Really nice.

    • Thanks Suzanne. I haven’t heard or read anything yet about whether this will be done again next year.

  9. Hi Donna. This is so cool! Yes the pun was intended. Lol. Reminded me of a hotel I’d read about awhile back, I think in Norway, where the whole thing was made of ice. Even the beds! Brrr. Fun to see though.

    • Susan, there is also an ice hotel in Quebec City, Canada. I’ve not seen it. I enjoyed seeing these sculptures, but the idea of staying in an ice hotel does not appeal to me. Even if the bed is warm, looking at the ice walls would make me feel cold.

  10. Looks like Winterpeg is giving Quebec a run for its money with this festival! Nice to see more of Canada embracing the cold – we’ve been called winter wussies of late!

  11. Donna, you’ve captured this so well with your photos that I felt like I was with you in a frozen fairyland!

  12. Lovely shots, Donna. I’ve seen a smaller scale ice carving competition at the Red Lodge, Montana Winter Festival. It was always/is always a shock to see the amazing art that gets constructed. These buildings are astounding.

    • Rose Mary, it is amazing to see the intricacies of these sculptures. And to think all that work goes into something that is only temporary.

  13. These pictures and sculptures are so gorgeous – thanks so much for sharing! You’ve really given me a whole new level of appreciation of Manitoba and an interest in visiting.

  14. The Great Ice show looks, well, great. The sculptures look amazing. You definitely have the climate for it. They tried it in Santa Fe but our winter weather is so unreliable it didn’t take off.

    • Billie, a lot of up and down in temperatures, going back and forth from melting or almost melting to deep freeze distorts the sculptures. Winnipeg’s winters usually don’t have much of that up and down. It is amazing what these sculptors can do with snow and ice.

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