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UPPSALA

Frozen art hits Uppsala in Ice Festival display

A park in Uppsala has been transformed into a winter wonderland for a week-long ice festival, with sculptors flocking from around the world to put their frozen art on display for chilly spectators.

Frozen art hits Uppsala in Ice Festival display

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 PICTURES: Take a stroll through Uppsala City Park and admire the ice sculptures by night

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.

IN PICTURES: Take to the ice and see the competitors in action

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.

Oliver Gee

Follow Oliver on Twitter here

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UNIVERSITY

Three Swedish universities earn spots in top 100

Three Swedish universities made it into the top 100 in an annual ranking of the world's best schools on Tuesday, but some of the country's higher education seats dropped from last year.

Three Swedish universities earn spots in top 100
Students at Lund University. Photo: Aline Lessner/imagebank.sweden.se

Lund in southern Sweden was again picked as Sweden's top university and came 73rd in the QS World University Rankings, but dropped three ranks on last year (and down from 60 in 2014).

Eight Swedish universities feature in the QS rankings, and all but three fell in the global list.

The ancient Uppsala University climbed back to the top 100, landing a spot in 98th place. Further down the list, Linköping and Umeå Universities both edged up to 282nd and 294th place, up from 286th and 319th, respectively.

The Royal Institute of Technology (Kungliga Tekniska Högskolan, KTH) dropped from 92nd to 97th place. Gothenburg-based Chalmers University of Technology fell from number 132 to 139 (which is still an improvement on its 175th place in the 2014 QS World University Rankings).

Lund was given a five-star ranking in addition to its place in the list. “Lund is Sweden's most attractive study destination. The compact university campus encourages networking and creates the conditions for scientific breakthroughs and innovations,” read the QS description.

“The university has a clear international profile, with partner universities in over 70 countries. Funding of more than 5 billion kronor a year goes to research at eight faculties, which gives Lund one of Sweden's strongest and broadest ranges of research activity.”

THE LOCAL SWITZERLAND: ETH Zurich best in continental Europe

Now in their 13th year, the annual rankings are compiled by global higher education analysts Quacquerelli Symonds (QS), and rank 916 institutions according to four key pillars: research, teaching employability and internationalization.

For the first time in more than a decade US universities took all three top spots, with MIT placing first for the fifth successive year ahead of Stanford and Harvard, knocking Britain's Cambridge to fourth.

Tuesday's list comes less than a month after the Shanghai Rankings, which picked the Karolinska Institute as the best university in Sweden.