How willing are you to put up with frigid temperatures for the sake of art? Because Elsa’s got nothing on the teams of snow sculptors who’ll be ‘letting it go’ and venturing ‘into the unknown’ (artistically speaking) up in Breckenridge at the end of January. And if you think that’s too many ‘Frozen’ references for one blog post, then I’m afraid you’ve come to the wrong place, because I have more.

But even if ‘Frozen’ isn’t your forte, you won’t want to miss the 30th Anniversary International Snow Sculpture Championship (ISSC). From Jan. 20 to Jan. 24, 16 teams of sculptors will travel to the picturesque town of Breckenridge to create their masterpieces, which will be shown from Jan. 24-Jan. 29. Any team can apply to enter, although registration for 2020 has closed (I thought about entering to recreate my ‘Snowman in D-Minor,' but I wanted to give all those professional artists a fair chance).


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This year, we’ll have teams from Alaska, Argentina, Breckenridge (no surprise there), China, Ecuador, France, Germany, Great Britain, India, Mexico, Minnesota, Mongolia, Switzerland, Turkey, Wisconsin and Vermont competing. Each team will be given a 20-ton block of snow and may rely only on hand tools to work their magic, beginning with the sound of a cannon at 11 a.m. on Monday, Jan. 20. After that, the teams will have five days (which comes to about 96 hours) to cast their creations, and visitors will be able to watch the creative process every step of the way.

During both Sculpting Week and Viewing Week, visitors can watch the artists work and take breaks to warm up inside the Warming Hut Exhibit, which details the 30-year history of the ISSC. The Warming Hut will be open from 12-8 p.m. throughout the contest and include a shop for souvenirs. As an insider’s hint, if you’d like to see the artists in action, Breckenridge suggests that you visit on Jan. 23, just before the sculpting period ends. Apparently, that’s when the artists are preparing to pull an all-nighter to finish up their last bits of detail work, and if you stay until the next day, you’ll get to see the awards as well.

 

 

 

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However, you won’t just get to watch the competition, you can participate in it as well. There are three different categories that the artists will be vying for: The overall competition itself, the People’s Choice award, and the Artist’s Choice award. If you’d like to take part in selecting the People’s Choice winner, you can submit your vote via text from Wednesday, Jan. 22 at noon to Saturday, Jan. 25 at 2 p.m. There’ll be phone numbers for you to message next to each sculpture, should one catch your eye and your vote.

Otherwise, judging for the official contest begins at 9 a.m. on Jan. 24, and all of the pieces will be lit with fantastic, ever-changing colors at 7:30 p.m. After the awards are given out, the sculptures will remain for one more week (Jan. 25-Jan. 29), where they’ll be open for daily viewing and a nightly light show that lasts from dusk to dawn. The sculptures will finally come down at 7 p.m. on Jan. 29, just before we head into a new month.

Last year, Team Mexico won Gold with their arboreal piece ‘Cenote Garden.’ Team Germany-Shurtzmann came next with their surrealist, modern sculpture ‘Walls with Holes,’ and Team Great Britain brought up the rear with their piece ‘Hippo Ballet Dancers.’ Team Ecuador won the Artists’ Choice award with their clean-lined sculpture‘Organic Geometry’ while Team Breckenridge won the People’s Choice with the seemingly Norse-inspired ‘Let it Snow.’ Many of these teams are returning in 2020, so it’s sure to make for a good time.

 

 

 

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This year might be an especially good time to see the competition, because according to the Denver Post’s ‘The Know Outdoors’, next year the contest will be following an entirely different format. Due to the temporary closure of an important parking lot, which will have a heavy impact on traffic and parking, the Breckenridge Events Committee proposed that the 2021 competition feature only 1 sculpture. This sculpture, tentatively called ‘World Piece’ would be a collaborative effort shared between the previous year’s winning teams and would be kept in a different location. Although the committee fully intends to return to the normal event format for 2022, they’re considering adding the collaborative piece as a regular tradition, too.

Oh, and as a frozen cherry on this snow-cicle cake, the entire event is completely free, as is parking and public transportation if you happen to be in town already. You’ll be able to find the display around the Riverwalk Center, which is located on South Park Ave. between Washing St. and Adams Ave.

So, even if ‘Frozen’ isn’t your favorite musical or movie, you can trust me that going to see the ISSC is definitely… ‘the next right thing’ to do.