Breckenridge snow sculpture

Every January, the ski town of Breckenridge, Colorado hosts the International Snow Sculpture Championships. For over twenty years, teams of snow artists from around the world come and ply their creative craft with the natural materials of the Rocky Mountains.

Each team begins with a twelve-foot block of snow along Breck’s Riverwalk. At the beginning of the week, movers bring in the snow blocks that weigh around twenty tons. Artists have four days to carve and shape, using only hand tools and their imagination, to create their masterpieces. The resulting creations are on view over a long weekend. Visitors can choose their favorite sculpture for a People’s Choice award, through online voting.


As I have most years, I came to admire their works of art, wandering between them in awe. It was Thursday afternoon, the last day of carving, so they were almost ready for the viewers that would arrive starting Friday morning. The artists, in their warm winter gear on this frigid day, could be seen climbing up scaffolds or sometimes laying on the ground making their finishing touches.

Sculptures sparkling in the sunlight, white and shadow, textured and sleek. Images of animals, sprites, humans, and flora, or non-representational modern art, or some combination of both. Signs in front of each announced the title, the origin of the team, a photo of a model or drawing, and often a brief description.

Distorted Reality, Germany
The Complexities of Life, Wisconsin, USA
Warming Clouds Intersect, Lithuania
Forest Jam, Wisconsin, USA
Harmony, Denmark
Emergence, Vermont, USA
Ullr, God of Snow, Breckenridge, USA
Sub-Zero Gravity, Bavaria, Germany
See you later alligator, in a while crocodile…
Great Britain
Allied, Switzerland
Inhabitants of the Sea, Italia
Burden of Socialization, Callisto, India
Kids try out sculpting the snow

I voted for the home-town boys from Breckenridge, a wonderful piece of work, although it was a close decision with Forest Jam. Which would you choose for your People’s Choice award?

Breckenridge is not one of my favorite mountain towns. Although it reveres its mining and old West history and there is a designated historic residential district, the downtown strip is peppered with modern malls of shops, shops, shops among the lovely little Victorian houses, turned shops, that remain along Main Street.

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Published by rkrontheroad

Writer, photographer, traveler

48 thoughts on “Breckenridge snow sculpture

  1. “Inhabitants of the Sea” caught my eye, including the depiction of water at the base, but “Forest Jam” strikes me as more of what viewers are looking for with something like snow sculpting. I wonder how the creations compare to Cripple Creek’s ice sculpting. I’m not surprised to read that Breckinridge isn’t your cup of tea, Ruth. Its historical roots are hit or miss amongst the shops and restaurants.

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  2. We went a couple years ago to this and really enjoyed it! It seems the sculptures are not as intricate this year as they were in 2021. But impressive nonetheless. I really like the Breckenridge one, but also the one called Harmony.

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  3. Very creative people at work here! I agree with your two choices but I think I’d choose Forest Jam over Ullr – but maybe I’d decide differently if I were to see them in their three dimensions?

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  4. I’m always in awe of these snow/ice festivals: it’s not easy making such large sculptures, let alone bearing with the extreme cold to carve them out…but the results are absolutely rewarding, that’s for sure! I’d definitely admire such works of art if I ever come to Breckenridge!

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  5. I love that there were two fellow Wisconsinites among the sculptors. I think I’d go with Forest Jam.
    I have so many questions about this: are the artists paid or do they have to pay to enter? Are the sculptures guarded at night while the sculptors sleep? Is this their job? Do they travel all over the world doing this? (I’m not asking you to answer these, Ruth. Just thinking out loud, so to speak.)

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    1. Good questions! I did some research – There is a committee that sends out invitations to artists. Artists must submit their plan in teams of 3 or 4, and only a small percentage are accepted. I didn’t see anything about an application fee, but they are responsible for their own lodging and meals all week, not cheap in Breck. Main sponsor is Toyota. The artists vote on the award, in addition to the People’s Award. I believe they can sculpt all night.

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  6. The Travel Architect sent me here after reading my post about the U.S. National Snow Sculpting Championship in Lake Geneva, WI this past weekend. So many talented snow sculptors! I saw some great designs too, but I don’t know if anything tops Burden of Socialization!

    Liked by 2 people

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