Forget the Melodifestivalen – the student town of Uppsala in eastern Sweden has been hit by the Isfestivalen (Ice Festival) which opened its gates to the public on Saturday morning.
“Well, what can you say about a festival below the castle?” Sten Bernhardsson, Uppsala’s Cultural Director, said in a statement.
“It may be terribly cold and icy, but it’s simply wonderful.”
In the City Park and in select locations around the town itself, enormous blocks of ice taken from the Torne River in far northern Sweden have been shaped by artists into everything from abstract shapes to one that appears to be a saber-toothed tiger.
Each sculpture is even individually lit up at night for ice-enthusiasts to enjoy around the clock.
For the youngsters, there’s an ice park, and the Swan Pond by the iconic pink Uppsala Castle is once again open for free ice skating, restoring a tradition from the nineteenth century.
Adult spectators, while frozen, have also lapped up the show.
“My fingers are too cold to take pictures but it was definitely worth coming down here,” one woman told The Local whilst warming her hands at a nearby fire.
While the majority of the sculptors themselves are Swedish, some have come from as far as Bulgaria, Holland and the UK to chip away at their trade.
Sunday also played host to the Viking Run (vikingarännet) – an annual 80 kilometre marathon on ice skates which follows a thousand-year-old transportation route from Viking times.
Around 3,000 racers dashed across the frozen waters linking Uppsala and Stockholm this year, with the winner crossing the finishing line in a record 2 hours 35 minutes.
But while the temperatures are predicted to keep below freezing in eastern Sweden for at least the next week, don’t delay in getting to the festival – the statues will be removed on Sunday.