A holy city made of ice
Jerusalem's International Ice Festival features colorful animals made with dyed ice. (Brad Cohen)
Even though freezing temperatures don’t usually reach Jerusalem, this year the Middle Eastern city decided to import the cold by hosting its first International Ice Festival, taking place through 30 April.
The festival — located at the Old Train Station Plaza in David Remez Square, about a mile southwest of the Old City — is essentially a smaller version of the spectacular Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival, which has been bringing visitors to the north of China for 27 years. Thirty five artists from Harbin even flew in to build Jerusalem’s ice city, which is the latest of Harbin’s exports to pop up as a temporary tourist attraction. Macau also received a Harbin clone, and the annual festival in Bruges has enlisted the help of Chinese artists.
The temperature at the 1,500sqm complex is set to a cool -10C and contains an ice-skating rink, live entertainment and a holy city built entirely of ice. Enter through a frozen replica of the Jaffa Gate, pass by the Tower of David and slip down an icy version of Jerusalem’s famous Mifletzet slide. Sculptures based on fictional tales — such as Cinderella and the Wizard of Oz — are sculpted alongside Noah’s Ark and a pack of colorful animals, made with dyed ice.
Winter coats are on loan with the hefty 65 shekel cost of admission, and the ice bar serves a full selection of liquor to provide a little liquid warmth.