The Icehotel as it is now known grew out of an ice sculpting workshop held in Jukkasjärviin 1989. A 60-sq m (646-sq ft) igloo created as a result the following year marked the beginning of the annual creation of a habitable structure. Only recently, it was announced that a permanent, solar-powered hotel was being planned for the site, to join the yearly Icehotels.
Jukkasjärvi is located 200 km (124) north of the Arctic Circle. During the summer, the sun doesn't set and in winter it never rises. The ice required for the construction of the hotel begins being harvested in 2-ton (1.8-tonne) blocks from the Torne River in March. It is kept in cold storage during the summer months, before construction begins in October or November.
This year, the hotel features 50 rooms and 19 individually themed and hand-crafted art suites. A "tranquil" and "peaceful" ice church designed by Edith Van Der Wetering and Wilfred Stijgerand is intended to be a place to "contemplate the greatness of the universe" and there's an ice bar called "Tribute," as a celebration of artists, actors, musicians, creatives and builders around the world.
Around 200 artists apply to work on the Icehotel every year and 130 submissions for artworks were received following this year's call-out in April. In addition to various works dotted around the building, examples of whole art suites include the Elephant in the Room by AnnaSofia Mååg, with a 3-m (9.8-ft) tall sculpted African elephant overlooking an ice-framed bed, the Flying Buttress by AnnaKatrin Kraus and Hans Aescht, which is an intimate ice cave with Gothic-like ice pillars, and Luc Voisin and Mathieu Brison's 1970s fashion, design and disco-inspired Love Capsule.
Beyond the spectacular creations, guests will be able to enjoy a winter menu with reinvented local delicacies including spruce shoots, cloudberries and sea buckthorn created by Michelin-trained head chef Alexander Meier. It will also be possible for guests to experience a Swedish sauna ritual (including an ice plunge and thermal starlit bath), to receive a Northern lights wake-up calls straight to their smartphones and to undergo an Arctic wilderness survival beginners' course.
The 26th icehotel opened on December 11, 2015 and will remain open until mid-April. Around 50,000 people are expected to visit the hotel this year, up from 35,000 last year. Rooms start from SEK 2,500 (US$295) per night based on two people sharing.
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