A candy shop filled with giant sweets, a swimming ice woman with a love for cold baths, an aquarium and a flock of Arctic terns – the suites of the 29th annual ICEHOTEL have officially reopened to the public. ICEHOTEL is the first and largest hotel built of snow and ice and is reborn in a new guise every winter. In total, 34 artists from 13 countries have spent an intense couple of weeks in Jukkasjärvi, Sweden, to create the 29th annual incarnation of the ephemeral hotel that is entirely made out of ice and snow from the free-flowing Arctic river Torne.
A great deal of this year’s art is inspired by nature. In “Spruce Woods” by Christopher Pancoe and Jennie O’Keefe from Canada, the guests can sit down around the fire (of ice) in a camping site in the forest. Jonathan Green from England creates “The Living Ocean Suite” together with his daughter Marnie Green, an underwater world filled with corals, shells, and fish to marvel at. “The suite is inspired by the climate changes and the overfishing that affects our oceans,” says Jonathan Paul Green. “I also thought the idea of using frozen water from a river in northern Sweden to create an ocean with shells, fish, and corals is exciting.”
Jonas Johansson, Jordi Claramunt and Lukas Petko from Sweden, Spain and Slovakia create the suite “Haven” in which a magical portal of ice is being guarded by the Clever Fox and the Fiery Fenix. The legend says only the pure-hearted may enter a room where time is infinite and life eternal. “We are inspired by the meeting of people and want to create an experience that invites curiosity, creativity, and collaboration,” says Jonas Johansson. “It feels like a dream to get to work with ice that allows our love for light, shine, and reflection to wander free from thought to creation.”
Building the seasonal hotel demands a large amount of work, beginning in March when 2500 tons of ice is harvested from the Torne River. The ice is then stored cold until October when the building of ICEHOTEL starts. A portion of the ice is ear-marked for making glasses, plates and bowls as well as international commissions for events and pop-up ice experiences. A couple of weeks before the opening, 34 artists from 13 different countries arrive in Jukkasjärvi to sculpt 15 unique suites of ice and snow, one ice ceremony hall for weddings and ceremonies and the main hall, featuring the iconic columns and chandeliers that have become synonymous with the hotel. A building team, the ice production, art support and lighting designers work together with the artists in the building of ICEHOTEL, and create an additional 20 ice rooms.
Each year, ICEHOTEL is visited by around 70,000 guests from all over the world, about 50 wedding couples get married in the sparkling ceremony hall. Most visitors stay three nights (only one in an ice suite and the rest the warm rooms that the hotel also offers) and the bucket list experiences to be checked off the list include northern lights, snowmobiling and dog sledding, ice sculpting and of course tasting the bespoke ice menu at ICEHOTEL Restaurant, – a five-course festive dinner on plates made out of ice, straight from Torne River. Since 2017, a permanent ice and snow experience with 20 rooms and ice bar is available in Jukkasjärvi. Inside ICEHOTEL 365, the design also changes every year and runs on solar power in the summer months.