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Winter 2016

Polar Opposites

While we shiver in the northern hemisphere during our winter months, much of the southern hemisphere is a summery paradise. However, there is one temperature both hemispheres have in common: the heat of competition. Snow and sand art competitions are some of the biggest attractions worldwide, but be warned: These aren’t your typical sandbox creations.

New Brighton, New Zealand
The creators of the Annual NZ Sandcastle Competition want a “BIG, FUN, HAPPY DAY” for families. And they certainly create an atmosphere for their wish to come true. With competition categories for families and kids, the sand creations range from classic sandcastles to large, intricate sand sculptures. The competition includes bounce houses and food, drink, and entertainment stalls. Individuals and families are sure to leave the event with cherished memories.

Surfers Paradise, Australia
This historic Australian beach, located on the Gold Coast among many heritage sites, has become a sand sculpture paradise. A unique trait of the competition here is that some of the massive sand sculptures are set up in cities along the Gold Coast, so the sand art can be enjoyed as visitors travel to other cities in the area, like Robina and Helensvale.

Mysore, India
While not a competition, this sand attraction draws thousands of visitors each year. The Sand Museum features the art of Gowri, a talented Indian sand sculptor. These massive sculptures feature thousands of images, but, if closely examined, the detail the artist uses is truly breathtaking.

Hout Bay, South Africa
If looking for a sandcastle competition with a heart, the annual sandcastle competition is a place for fun and service. Money raised from this charity event helps children at Valley Pre-Primary School and Houtbay Educare Centre stay in school, and the money also improves the schools’ facilities. While the competition doesn’t feature giant masterpieces, the sandcastles built have now given Hout Bay Beach a new meaning.

Bruges, Belgium
A popular event in Europe, this snow and ice festival called “Ice Magic” has drawn approximately two million visitors over the span of two decades. With such a history under its belt, it is no wonder that this festival is highly anticipated, and some of the best sculptors come to work their magic on expansive, detailed exhibits. With family-friendly themes like Frozen and The Lord of the Rings, the show can be enjoyed by everyone.

Perm, Russia
Few people might think that traveling to Russia in the winter is a good idea, but for temporary art enthusiasts, the Russian Cup in Snow and Ice Sculpture is worth braving the cold. This competition brings some of the best ice and snow sculptors from around the world, and each piece, usually large and imposing, is also exquisitely carved. Because the focus in this competition is more on artistry than on size, visitors can appreciate the artists’ attention to detail.

Harbin, China
Somewhat ironically, Harbin hosts its international ice and snow sculpting competitions on Sun Island. Rather than a collection of random art pieces, Sun Island transforms into a city made entirely of ice. During the day, the beauty and intricacy of the sculpted ice and snow takes tourists’ breath away; at night, the entire ice city comes alive with brilliant neon colors. The island is an incredible sight for those who love Christmas lights.

Sapporo, Japan
In its forty-third year, the Sapporo International Snow Sculpture Contest is one that encourages friendships and cultural exchange among its competitors. Many of the large and elaborate sculptures reflect the competitors’ native countries. There are three different locations to enjoy the art and spend time sledding, snow rafting, and enjoying other winter activities with your loved ones.

 —Sam Lund
Featured photo by Ram Kumar.