Sweden’s Icehotel Celebrates its 30th Year With 15 Glittering New Art Suites

In the incredibly Northern village of Jukkasjärvi in Swedish Lapland, the striking beauty of the surrounding landscape almost takes a back seat to the architectural feat that is the Icehotel. Originally a summer destination for tourists looking to enjoy all-day sunshine and luxurious swims in the river, the area now draws crowds by the thousands each year—even during the coldest months. (The figures are even more staggering when you consider that the municipality only counts 548 inhabitants, as of a 2010 survey.)

The draw? Yngve Bergqvist’s vision of a hotel built entirely of snow and ice. The vision came to fruition 30 years ago, and it now draws visitors from every corner of the globe.

Malmö-based design duo Kauppi & Kauppi were tapped to design the main ceremony hall of Icehotel #30. The chapel-like room is adorned with images of ginkgo leaves—a symbol of love and longevity. The 30 pinpoints of light on the ceiling represent each year of Icehotel’s history.

Another view of the Gingko Ceremony Hall. Each ice block in the ginkgo design weighs 40 kilos. Reindeer skin–covered benches allow visitors to sit in quiet contemplation for extended periods of time.

2016 marked the opening of Icehotel 365—a permanent Texture Spray Machine retreat where travelers can sleep in hotel rooms made entirely of ice and snow all year round. However, every December Icehotel builds a new crop of ice rooms to entice guests. These special suites last until spring, when the ice melts away and the cycle begins again.

The opening ceremony for Icehotel #30 featured singing, candles, and goodwill.

The Warm Up room by Aleksandra Pasek and Tomasz Czajkowski only looks cozy—you’ll still need your snowsuit and sleeping bag to stay overnight.

This winter, 33 artists from 16 countries (together with Icehotel’s incredible build, ice production, creative support, and lighting design teams) spent two intensive weeks building the 30th reincarnation of the hotel’s annual art exhibition—including 15 art suites, hallways, and a ceremony hall made entirely of snow and ice from the nearby Torne River. The hotel also debuted a new outdoor installation featuring a 13-foot-tall tower, two new Icehotel 365 suites, and an amusement park–themed ice bar called “Torneland.”

A Night at the Theatre was designed by Jonathan Paul Green and Marnie Green.

Feline Lair was designed by Brian Alvin McArthur and Dawn Marie Detarand.

“We have planned Icehotel #30 since early spring, when the Icehotel jury decided which art suites would become reality,” says Luca Roncoroni, the creative director at Icehotel. “Luckily, the Arctic weather greeted us with perfect conditions for the construction period. There is something special about creating art and design in collaboration with the river, the sky, and the air.”

Crescents was designed by Elin Julin and Ida Mangsbo.

White Santorini, by Haemee Han and Jae Yual Lee, brings the easygoing, warm architecture of Greece to the frozen landscape.

“It’s been a fantastic journey with a lot of pride and joy—and the reason for this is the employees throughout the years who’ve really made an effort to give the guests, coming from all over the world, life-enriching moments during their stay.” —Yngve Bergqvist, founder of Icehotel

Ruossut was designed by Anna Öhlund and John Pettersson.

Designed by Jens Thoms Ivarsson and Mats Nilsson, the blocky sculpture outside of Icehotel #30 echoes brutalist architecture.

Construction of the winter portion of Icehotel took nearly two weeks.

Directly adjacent to the winter hall lies Icehotel 365, which allows guests to experience frozen accommodations all year round.

Here’s a look at this year’s Icehotel by the numbers:

  • The total amount of ice used to create the hotel amounts to ten seconds of water flow in the Torne River.
  • The hotel’s chandeliers contain 1,000 ice crystals sculpted by hand.
  • The hotel’s floors, ceilings, and walls are composed of 30,000 cubic meters—the equivalent of 110 million ice cream servings—of snow mixed with ice (aka “snice”).
  • This year’s hotel offers 55 cold rooms (including 15 art suites and 20 ice suites in Icehotel #30, and nine deluxe suites and 11 art suites in Icehotel 365). In addition to cold rooms, Icehotel also offers warm accommodation, cabins, and hotel rooms.
Just inside the lobby of Icehotel 365 sits Torneland, a carnival-themed bar that serves champagne in ice goblets by night and offers ice sculpting classes by day. Designed by Luc Voisin and Mathieu Brison, the frozen funhouse won’t melt in spring—it’ll be open to guests for the next several years.

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