Winter drapes Canada in a beautiful white canvas of snow and ice. However, every canvas needs an artist, and that’s what Ice Magic is all about. This annual 12-day ice carving exhibition, turns the frozen town of Lake Louise into a winter wonderland, where ice is carved, shaved and shaped into some of the most beautiful sculptures. Ice carvers from around the globe reach the alpine town of Lake Louise to compete at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise Hotel, which is right at the shore of the frozen Lake Louise.
The 2020 festival will run from 15th January to 26th January, and there are activities and events to be enjoyed throughout the run of the festival. If you choose to make your trip during the first half of the festival, you have the advantage of watching ice carvers work their magic. If you’re curious about their work, this is the best time to ask them. Most of them will take a minute to answer any burning questions. Arriving early for the competition also means that you can attend the one-hour speed carving event and the final awards ceremony. If you happen to make a mid-week visit, you can take in the beauty of finished sculptures. It’s a gallery of ice artistry – and it’s yours to savour for free! What’s more, mid-week sees a dip in crowds, so you’ll have the sculptures, parking and all the photo and selfie opportunities for yourself. If you choose to make a visit after the sun sets, get ready for a completely different kind of beauty. At night, the glittering stars from above and the lights placed under the sculptures, illuminate them beautifully. Or, you could stay for the whole week and experience all of these advantages together – the choice is yours.
Note, that once the festival is over you still have a chance to view the sculptures – for as long as nature wants. They could melt, be damaged by weather conditions, or are taken down by the hotel. (It’s best not to risk it!)
This is an incredibly popular festival in the region and parking can become a nightmare, if you do decide to drive down. Luckily, there are free shuttles available from Samson Mall. You can park your car in the village and hop on to the shuttle to the Upper Lake Louise Area. Shuttles are between 10:30 AM to 6:00 PM and are usually the most crowded between 12:00 to 16:00 PM. Plan accordingly!
Winter has a second name, and that’s versatility. The snow and ice give you endless opportunities. You could go skiing or take a Gondola ride to the top of the mountains to admire the view. You and your family could take a guided snowshoe tour of the Lake Louise area, or take a cross-country ski trail near the Baker Creek Mountain Resort. Heat things up a bit, with some competitive tubing runs down the slopes with your friends.
If you’re on a budget, the Ice Magic festival allows visitors in for free from Monday-Friday and on the weekends, before 10:00 AM or after 5:30 PM.
During peak hours, you’ll need to buy tickets to visit the carving sites. Your access to the competition will depend on the kind of ticket you buy:
General Admission: $13
Seniors (55 years and above): $8
Youth (3-12 years): $6
Infants (under 2): Free
Family (2 adults and up to 4 kids): $35
If your accommodation is booked with Baker Creek Mountain Resorts, Castle Mountain Chalets, Deer Lodge, Emerald Lake Lodge and others, have free access to the competition at all times. (Check out the list of partner hotels on the official website).
Winters in Canada are beautiful, but bitterly cold. Dress in lots of warm layers and winter gloves, boots, coat and hats are a must!