Dazzling winter pictures show world's first ice hotel as it reopens in Swedish Lapland

Travellers can wander in a frozen Japanese garden, sleep under supersized iced mushrooms and cosy up in an igloo-style dome at Icehotel 33

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After six weeks sculpting more than 500 tonnes of snow and creating more than 200 handmade frozen crystals, the world's first ice hotel has reopened for the winter season.

Icehotel 33 opened this weekend in Swedish Lapland, combining the work of 24 artists with thousands of blocks of ice harvested from the nearby River Torne.

The icy hotel suites, which are 200 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle in Jukkasjarvi, Sweden, are now open for overnight stays and will be for the next five months, until the ice melts and flows back into the river.

The MushRoom suite by Chris Pancoe and Peter Hargraves is one of 12 ice suites where travellers can spend the night in a unique world of frozen art. Photo: Asaf Kliger

More than 30,000 cubic metres — enough to fill 10 Olympic-sized swimming pools — worth of snow and ice mix were used to create this year's hotel which features an ice dome, a Japanese-style garden, supersized mushrooms and a folkloric maiden perched on an icy throne.

Brimming with fantastic art and sculptures all of which are made entirely of ice and snow, Icehotel 33 has 12 seasonal art suites, designed by artists from around the world, including Germany, the UK, Spain, Chile, Singapore, Japan, Canada and Mongolia. Chainsaws, hammers, chisels and carving blocks have been in high demand at the site over the last few weeks as the artists worked to create unique worlds of frozen art for hotel guests to enjoy.

The private suites have never been created before, nor will they exist again, come April, when spring arrives and the ice returns to its origins.

The only year-round ice hotel in the world relies on constant sub-zero conditions during construction and when operating. Although the art suites will melt and subside, there are also 24 ice rooms at the hotel, available to book year-round. Travellers can also enjoy a sub-zero spa and sauna, an ice-cold cocktail bar, a frozen movie theatre and a grand ceremony hall, where winter weddings are held each season.

'The hotel is sinking'

A dazzling icicle-laden chandelier welcomes guests inside Icehotel 33, leading to the sparkling ceremony hall. This year, the event space has been transformed by artists Wouter Biegelaar from the Netherlands and Viktor Tsarski from Bulgaria. Entitled Embrace, it features leaf-adorned arches and glass-like columns that create an intimate ceremony setting. The design also reflects the ever-changing characteristics of the hotel, says Luca Roncoroni, creative director at Icehotel.

“The whole Icehotel is changing all the time, it is moving, the Icehotel is sinking, it is deforming and those columns will bend out more and more, almost like flowers changing,” he said during a video preview tour of the hotel.

The brainchild of engineer and entrepreneur Yngve Bergqvist, the hotel of ice and snow has been operating since 1989 and has become a must-visit Swedish landmark for travellers.

Ice sculpting in action as Icehotel 33 takes shape in Swedish Lapland's sub-zero temperatures. AFP

“Yet another Icehotel is completed, and yet another unique experience is ready for our guests. This winter wedding couples will literally be embraced in the Ceremony Hall, and it'll also be possible to sleep in an ice dome, a Japanese garden, under supersized mushrooms, among flowers and much more. Maybe it will even be possible to experience an ancient legend,” said Roncoroni.

“Every year I’m amazed of what this incredible team can achieve; talented international artists, flanked by a team of ice professionals, can really create magic. Welcome to Icehotel 33!”

More than 70 artists, production teams, builders and light designers worked on the 33rd recreation of the hotel. Another 150 staff will ensure rooms, corridors and hallways remain in pristine condition throughout the season, as well as being on hand to welcome guests checking in and visitors exploring the unique world of art.

Overnight rates in the ice suites start from 6,995 Swedish krona ($674), including breakfast. Travellers visiting the region that don't want to splurge on a night at the hotel — or can't imagine sleeping on ice — can buy a day pass to see and experience the hotel's ice art.

Updated: December 19, 2022, 1:26 PM