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Ice sculpture festival transforms Russian city into a winter wonderland

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The Crystal Tomsk ice sculptor festival saw 16 teams compete in the Russian city's annual competition
The Crystal Tomsk ice sculptor festival saw 16 teams compete in the Russian city's annual competition   -   Copyright  AP
By Theo Farrant  & AP

Festive illuminations are brightening up the central square of Tomsk, Russia, in an unusual way.

Alongside a New Year's tree, there are sixteen new ice sculptures decorating the site.

The artworks have been created as part of Crystal Tomsk, ice sculpture festivalstaged in the Siberian city.

Ice art inspired by Russian folktales and heritage

AP Photo
The event attracts thousands of visitors, keen to see the winter masterpiecesAP Photo

The theme for this year's competition was 'folk art and intangible heritage'.

Sculptors sourced inspiration from fairy tales, myths, epics, and proverbs for their frosty creations.

One small sculpture is produced during a 'blitz' tournament opens the week of festivities, with a larger, final submission required from each team to seal the deal.

Each team was given 8.5 ice blocks to craft their sculpture, every block weighs about 500 kilograms each.

Master ice sculptors worked on their designs for up to 12 hours, and some stayed overnight.

"The skill of the sculptors grows over the years, I do not know what it is, the tools are getting better or the talent, or the desire, but Tomsk is decorated enchantingly," says local Olga Vlasova.

But who won?

The event was attended by sixteen teams, which included 32 sculptors from ten different parts of Russia: Tomsk, Yakutsk, Khabarovsk, Irkutsk, Perm, Kyzyl, Seversk, Yekaterinburg, St. Petersburg, and Moscow.

First place – and a certificate for 100,000 Russian rubles (€1,200) – was awarded to sculptors from Yakutsk, the RoK team, who made the 'Heavenly Mare', a grand horse and chariot structure.

Each sculpture will stick around in the city square for the next three months.

"The event attracts tourists to our city, and I know very well that people from nearby cities come to us to look at the masterpieces that sculptors leave after their work," says Denis Shostak, head of the Department of Culture of the City Administration of Tomsk.

Check out the video above to see the ice sculptor masterpieces