In Jukkasjärvi, a tiny little town 200 km north of the Arctic Circle, the now iconic ICEHOTEL art project-come-hotel is more than two decades old. It may be madness, but it is unique, world-famous madness and totally inspiring venture.
How did it all start? … It’s 1989. There’s an ice and snow sculpture art course on in the village of Jukkasjärvi – pronounced ‘you-kas-yayr-vi’ (try saying that with a reindeer salami in your mouth). A snow house has been built as the art course venue. But there’s a sudden shortage of accommodation. What to do? Easy. Stick them in the snow house with the frozen art, of course: give them sleeping bags; survivalist advice; tips on toilet trip management on ice; and a sauna in the morning to burn off the frostbite … And the ICEHOTEL was born.
Now, every winter, ice is cut from the frozen Torne River in Jukkasjärvi. Builders and artists get to work with mammoth sized ice blocks and at the end of frenzied months of chopping, cutting, sculpting and probably a lot of schnapps drinking, you get one ICEHOTEL and an ICEBAR. And a lot of tendonitis injuries. Then to add insult to injury, it melts every spring! But that is the joy of the ICEHOTEL. You get a new hotel and art installation every year.
In town after the ICEHOTEL has melted? Worry not. There is an ABSOLUT ICEBAR in the Art Center at Jukkasjärvi if you want to take a break from the summer’s 100 days of Midnight Sun.