After an 11 year hiatus, the Nuuk Snow Festival was back in 2019. I was lucky enough to be in town to enjoy this snow sculpting showcase by both local and international teams.
It was -25 degrees Celsius with the wind chill. Perfect conditions for polar bears and to prevent snow from melting, but positively painful for a human venturing out into it. You have to be quite hardy (and slightly insane) if you are going to participate in a snow festival!
Day 1 – the sculpting begins
On the Thursday morning, several 3m x 3m x 3m blocks of hard packed snow stood at the ready at Sikuki – Nuuk Harbour to be sculpted into … well, we had to wait and see. Several teams got underway immediately, making sure to use as much of their 3-day sculpting window as possible. Armed with ladders, ice saws, shovels, picks and an arsenal of other tools, they had made various levels of progress by the end of day 1.
Other blocks had yet to be touched (their teams delayed in Copenhagen due to bad weather), and there were even a few spares available for late registrations.
Lasse and I visited after work to see the progress and ran into Lasse’s friend David there. On the spur of the moment, the two of them decided to enter the festival. Team “Arctic Penguin” chose their block and brainstormed what they would sculpt as they dropped me home. Although they invited me to be part of it, I wasn’t sure my Australian fingers and toes would survive the bitterly cold temperatures, and decided to leave the Greenlanders to it.
Day 2 – Silent Disco and Light Show
Saturday evening it was time to head back in and check on progress. The bonus was a “light show and silent disco” at the sculpture site and slightly less frigid temperatures!
It was amazing to see how much progress had been made and most of the sculptures were heading rapidly towards their final touches! Some teams were even working through it!
The “disco” was more like “relaxation music” (at least while I was there, apparently it picked up a bit later), so I decided to just wander through and admire the sculptures without accompaniment.
It was a pretty good turnout with people coming and going throughout the evening.
Day 3 – Before and after at the 2019 Nuuk Snow Festival
It was tools down at 11am the next morning, so I did one last visit around midday to see the final products. They had each started out as a solid 3m x 3m x 3m cube of snow
But what they had been transformed into was incredible!
There was one interactive sculpture that the kids were having a ball playing on
and I thought team “Arctic Penguin” did an amazing job on the perfect symmetry of their “Drop”.
Winners of the 2019 Nuuk Snow Festival
In the end, Team Qinngorput won the non-figurative category with their Northern Lights sculpture “Light in Depth”
and Team Sisamaqqat the figurative category with “Transformation” (the walrus, seal, bear intermixed figures). This is perhaps not surprising when you look at the day-to-day carving work by one of the team members Kim Kleist-Eriksen.
But all of the sculptures were incredible, including the one done by the volunteers for the festival (which included several of my friends) – even though they somehow managed to leave Canada off their world map…
The Nuuk Snow Festival is a very cool idea (literally and figuratively) and I really hope they run it again next year. If they do (and if I’m in town), I may even brave the cold (Lasse assures me that it is actually quite hot work carving the snow) and enter next time! Better start thinking about what I might be able to carve!
Discover more about Greenland
The Ultimate Travel Guide to Nuuk provides a complete list of festivals that take place throughout the year in Greenland’s capital. It also has loads of practical information on how to get to Nuuk, how to get around, where to stay, where to eat, and what to do once you arrive.