Snowy Art: The Breckenridge International Snow Sculpture Championships

Every January, dozens of people come to Breckenridge with cheese graters and wooden spoons in hand. This group of dedicated snow lovers are some of the best professional sculptors and snow artists in the world, and they descend on our mountain town to create the Breckenridge snow sculptures as part of the Breckenridge International Snow Sculpture Championships.

Hand-picked to spend 65 hours in a heated race, the 16 teams will work day and night to chip, carve and carefully sculpt the 12-foot-tall, 25-ton blocks of snow into an artistic wintry display.

Breckenridge Snow Sculptures Teams

The competition is comprised of 16 teams, typically announced by early November.

Each team includes four artists, many of whom are internationally-known snow artists with backgrounds in sand, snow, ice and rock sculpting, among many other credentials.

The 2018 teams: China, Argentina, USA-Colorado, India, Italy, Mexico, Mongolia (Erdene), Mongolia (Tserendash), Sweden, Turkey, USA-Breckenridge, USA-Vermont, USA-Wisconsin (Tomczak), USA-Wisconsin

About the Breckenridge International Snow Sculpture Championships

Aerial Shot of International Snow Sculpture Championships in Breckenridge. Breckenridge snow sculptures.
The International Snow Sculpture Championships is one of the most popular events of the year.

Snow carving in Breckenridge dates back to the late 1960s and early 1970s. Now in its 29th year, the sculptures have progressed. Throughout the five days (65 hours) of sculpting, teams create enormous works of art from 12-foot-tall, 25-ton blocks of machine-made Colorado snow.

Artists create their pieces without the use of power tools, internal support structures or colorants. Some teams, such as Team Mexico, prepare for the competition by practicing in sand. One of the unique aspects of this event is style. Some teams cultivate very abstract pieces, while others are very realistic. Other creations are inspired by the culture of their country or even have a social and political significance.

The free event gives rise to a temporary outdoor sculpture gallery in the center of downtown Breckenridge. At the close of the competition, judges award Gold, Silver and Bronze prizes, along with the Artists’ Choice award. Two categories are open to public voting: People’s Choice and Kids’ Choice. As the event progresses, keep an eye out on the @GoBreck social pages to vote for your favorites in the Social Media Award. Winners receive no money; instead, they receive recognition throughout the international snow sculpting community.

Schedule

The sculpting event takes place at the Riverwalk Center, located at 150 W. Adams Avenue.

Stomping Week: January 16-21, 2019
International Snow Sculpture Championships: January 22-26, 2019
Snow Sculpture Viewing Weekend (weather permitting): January 26-28, 2019

6 Fun Facts

  1. Teams use home-made tools, for example, a modified cheese grater from their kitchen cabinets
  2. The last 16 hours of the competition are spent carving through the night until the judging at 10 a.m. Saturday morning
  3. This is the 27th year of the Snow Sculpture Championships in Breckenridge
  4. In the past, Team Argentina was the only team with all female artists
  5. The blocks of snow are created by stomping the snow…by foot. We call it “Stomping Week”
  6. The sculptures are supported ONLY by snow. There are no internal supports allowed

By the Numbers

  • 4: artists per team
  • 12 feet: height of each blank block before sculpting begins
  • 65 hours: total time allowed for competitors to sculpt across the 5 days of competition
  • 250: teams are invited to compete; only 16 are selected
  • 400 tons: total amount of snow to create blocks for 16 teams
  • 1990: the first year of the Breckenridge International Snow Sculpture Championships
  • 50,000 pounds: weight of each block before sculpting begins

Fire Arts Festival

Started in 2015 by Breckenridge Creative Arts as a complement to snow sculpture’s 25th anniversary, the Fire Arts Festival this year runs Jan. 26-29. This fiery contrast of burning sculptures, pyrotechnical effects and other spark-filled attractions takes place throughout the Breckenridge Arts District in the heart of downtown. Visit BreckCreate.org for more information as it becomes available.

More information

As the event gets closer, visit the event page for more detailed information such as schedule, a program of this year’s teams, and more on the Breckenridge snow sculptures. To learn more about the arts and culture scene in Breckenridge, visit the Arts and Culture page.

By Breck Editorial

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