Thursday, December 4, 2014

Carved From Ice

Its beginning to feel a lot like Christmas here in Belgium. The weather has turned cold (by Belgian standards at least), the days are darker and festive holiday lights are beginning to shine. Its the season for festivals and Christmas markets and this past weekend we kicked it all off by heading to Bruge and attending the annual Ice Sculpture Festival.

The library

The ice sculpture festival has become an annual event in Bruge with each year featuring a different theme. This year's theme was The Land of the Hobs with each sculpture invoking images of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit. From the minute we walked in and caught our breaths in the icy cold (yes, it was that cold) we felt as though we were walking through an enchanted land filled with dwarfs and elves, giant spiders and dragons, and chapels, thrones and even a miniature library. No detail was left untouched and even for the non-Hobbit fans amongst us (namely me), it was an enchanting experience. It was pretty amazing to walk amongst the carved scenes where the longer you looked at a scene the more you saw. Just as it did when we visited the sand sculptures in Oostende earlier this year, I was reminded that carving, regardless of the medium, is a true form of art. And while most of the exhibit was (rightfully) hands off, the end brought an indoor castle and slide made completely of ice. Kids of all ages grabbed burlap sacks before climbing up the ice steps to the top of the caste then sliding down the twisty ice slide. And when we had had our fill of sliding and exploring the ice tunnels we could warm up at the ice bar which served hot cocoa, gluwein and other shots of other beverages that were intended to help take the chill off.

And down we go!

We made a day of it by taking the train, exploring the ice festival and then heading into Bruge to visit
their small Christmas market afterwards. Despite attending the festival in the middle of a beautiful Saturday afternoon, the crowds were sparse and there was no wait to get in. Few people made it ideal for actually looking at the sculptures and although it wasn't a concern for my group, it would have been quite easy to navigate with a baby buggy or wheel chair. But be forewarned, it is cold inside with the temperatures hovering around 23 degrees (F) / -6 degrees (C). So dress warmly (and warm yourself up with some gluwein).

It was the perfect way to kick off the holiday season. Cheers!

If you go:

Station Square, Bruge (immediately in front of the train station)
+32 050 20 04 65
Open daily from 10.00-18.00 from 21 November through 4 January
Adults 15 Euro, Seniors 13 Euro, Children between 3 - 11 11 Euro
Discounted tickets available online and at Belgian rail stations

1 comment:

  1. How amazing is this?! One of my only regrets having served in the CG (and married to a Coastie) was the very few opportunities to serve overseas, and those mostly limited to officers. It's a pleasure to read about your adventures!