Skiing at Lake Louise is always an amazing experience but when the Ice Magic Festival is in town, the experience becomes, well, magical.
Ice carvers from all around the world gather outside the beautiful Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise from Wednesday to Friday to create a stunning piece of ice art in approximately 34 hours (three days). When I say they come from around the world, I really mean it. I’ve seen ice carvers from Iraq, Mexico, Malaysia, Latvia, Russia, Canada, and the USA, just to name a few. They come all the way to Lake Louise, Alberta to show off their skills at turning blocks of ice into stunning masterpieces.
It’s a popular time to visit Lake Louise. Not only do you get the beauty of Lake Louise and the Rocky Mountains, but you get the additional beauty of the ice sculptures. The actual event where the carvers make their art takes place for only three days, but the festival continues for almost two weeks. If you can’t make it during the event though, they do leave the ice sculptures up until they are deemed unsafe.
Ice Magic Festival 2019
In 2019, which was also the 25th anniversary of the event, the winner of all the three categories was called Ice Queen Treasures and was made by a team from Latvia. This may just be the most beautiful ice sculpture I’ve ever seen at any of the Ice Magic Festivals in Lake Louise. But don’t take our word for it – watch the video above!
We always try to arrive at some point when the artists are stilling working on their sculptures and again when all are complete. It’s incredible to see the work that goes into it, not to mention the freezing temperatures they face all day long. With the average block of ice weighing in at 300 pounds, these artists have to balance physical exertion with artistic finesse. Add freezing cold temperature to the mix and you can imagine how dedicated these artists must be.
Other Things To Do in Lake Louise
There’s much more to Lake Louise than the ice sculptures too.
Sometimes we combine an amazing day of skiing while visiting the Ice Magic Festival. After all, world-class Lake Louise Ski Resort is right across the highway! We usually try to the Ice Magic Festival visit before we go skiing and again after we’re done skiing, when the daylight is gone and the sculptures are lit up.
On one morning during the festival, it was around 8:30 am and the sun was just breaking through the clouds. For the first time in my life, my wife and I had Lake Louise and the ice sculpture to ourselves. No one was around. The air was crisp and fresh. This is rare and very rewarding.
After gawking at the beautiful ice sculptures that were created over the weekend, we took advantage of a quick skate on Lake Louise, surrounded only by the mystical mountains and an ice castle that stands on the ice each and every winter.
We couldn’t hear anything but our blades carving the ice beneath us. It wasn’t long though before a tractor started up to clear the small amount of snow that formed on the ice overnight. The horse sleigh rolled up early, waiting for customers to wake from their slumbers. A couple of people showed up to see the ice sculptures.
After about an hour, we decided to take off the skates and head down to the ski resort to get a full day of skiing in. 20 minutes later, we were at the resort, looking up at the runs that we were about to ski down.
I love Lake Louise. The lake, the ski resort, the scenery – all of it is intense in beauty. In fact, Lake Louise Ski Resort is known as having the most beautiful scenery of any ski resort in the world. It’s also world-class with over 145 runs for skiers and boarders to delight in.
We jumped straight on the gondola to go to the top of the mountain. It was a gorgeous day with blue skies with a warm sun shining down. It was only -5 Celcius, which is very warm for a ski day in the Canadian Rockies.
I love getting off the gondola and standing on top of the mountain, looking down at all the glory surrounding me. Breathing in the fresh air. Anticipating the fast run I’m about to make to the bottom. Blue skies. Fluffy clouds. Everything is incredible.
As I take one last look at the incredible scenery in front of me, I nudge the ski just a little and gain speed down the mountain. Some people love skiing in-between trees. Some love moguls. I love going very, very fast and then making tight turns where I can touch the snow with my hand. It’s a rush. I love the feeling of speed and the tears that form in my eyes from the small amount of wind that goes through my ski mask.
Within 10 minutes, I’m back at the bottom. It was a long run but I felt like I flew down. Speed is my bliss. I get back on the gondola and make my way back to the top for another wonderful run to the bottom.
For those looking to travel to Alberta, Lake Louise is an absolute MUST DO. In my opinion, Banff and Lake Louise are one of the best things to do in Canada. Lake Louise is located approximately 40-minutes (driving) west of Banff, Alberta or about 2-2.5 hours west of Calgary. In the summer, you can enjoy watching grizzly bears from the Lake Louise chairlift and in the winter you can enjoy some of the worlds best skiing. You can’t lose. GO!
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(Note: This article was originally written in March, 2014, but updated in February 2019)
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