Making of Icehotel

Tractor inside Icehotel 29

The build begins

When winter is at its darkest and coldest hour, artists from all over the world arrive to the village of Jukkasjärvi. With only a few hours of daylight during this period of polar night the sky shifts in various colours. From the most concentrated blue to the brightest purple, before it settles again a few hours after noon. These artists come to take part in the shaping of the art exhibition in snow, ice and light that constitutes Icehotel.

The makers? Well, it changes from year to year but graphic designers, architects, industrial engineers, artists – the list goes on. The principal aim for the creative team at Icehotel is to seek out truly original ideas for new suites and art work for each reincarnation of the hotel.

Worker outside the build of Icehotel 29
Luc Voisin outside Icehotel 29 during the build

Every year Icehotel goes out with an open call for new ideas. Since the hotel provides instructors and tools for the actual sculpting, there are no prerequisites for applying – all that matters is your idea, and that you’re able to join the symposium to create the suite in person. A panel of artists and ice experts evaluates the applications based on originality of ideas and with the overall composition of exhibition – looking for breadth and interesting contrasts between different contributors’ concepts ideas. Between 15-20 applications are accepted and invited to come to Jukkasjärvi in November to build their design. 

About half of them have participated in the past, but half of them are new to experience – most of whom are new to  sculpting in ice and snow and some are new to  snow and colder climes all together. Assisting in their creations, a team of experienced artists acts  as support throughout the construction process. In addition to the art suite designers, a number of experienced ice artists with documented skill and technical knowledge are given the honorary assignments to design the public areas of the hotel, including the main hall, the church, luxury suites  and the bar. The final touch is the light design – as most of the art work is transparent, light adds an important dimension to the end result. A team of light  designers work closely with the creators of each  room in the hotel to ensure the lightning interprets and enhances the art work in the best way possible. 

Worker in front of Icehotel 365
Worker on top of Icehotel during the build

When the hotel melts in the gazing spring sun, the ice turns into water and returns to the Torne River again. What’s left is the twenty suites made of ice and snow inside the permanent part of Icehotel, which can be experienced all year round.

“We appreciate each hotel in its own way, but at the same time, knowing that you can try out a new idea next year is very liberating – it has an interesting effect on creativity.”


Arne Bergh outside Icehotel 29 during the build