Jerusalem’s 2013 Ice City – The Frozen Far East

I’d been looking forward to this moment for a year. That moment when I would be all wrapped up with more layers than a body can bare in the budding Israeli summer, and I would move that heavy curtain and find myself in a frozen, dreamy world.

Having treasured Jerusalem’s first ice festival last year, having enjoyed the -10 degrees C (14F), the question that came to my mind as I walked in and saw the first three ice sculptures was not one I expected, or was happy to be asking myself:

Have I lost my mind?

I mean, the place was freezing!

I come from central Israel, where it’s hot and humid most year long. I had health issues the year before.

And I didn’t have my “Argentina pants” with me, the pants I bought in San Martin de Los Andes after freezing my way through Bariloche. The sales person in San Martin found it funny that I walked around wearing 5 layers of pants, and explained you simply need to know which pants to buy.

I bought the ones he recommended – and still walked around with 5 layers of clothing. I just froze a little less.

Now it’s been a while since I snow-hiked in San Martin, and looking for the pants that hold memories of that magic in the last minute didn’t help.

Fortunately, I was able to locate my thermal clothes and put on a few layers of warm clothes, that would be too warm for your everyday weather in Israel, even in winter.

Not that it doesn’t get cold here. It just doesn’t get THAT cold. I once tried wearing a very warm shirt to campus when it was cold, and my body went so crazy with how hot it got with that shirt, that I had to skip a fascinating class and take an hour’s commute back home to change.

I was not ready for the cold – yet my body surprised me once again. Unlike with the nonstop heat we have here in summers, I adjusted quickly.

Fortunately, by the time I passed an icy rickshaw, an icy bus, an ice elephant and an icy Taj Mahal – my body started enjoying the temperatures in which it was clearly meant to live.

I came to exhibition with Sabina of Solo Female Traveler and Traveling the Middle East. Together, we wondered through the sculptures that were created by Chinese and Israeli artists for what is nicknamed Ice City.

Together, we entered a colorful maze out of ice, climbed up two icy castles (OK, so they were only balconies of castles) and saw the Forbidden City – apparently the place with most palaces in the world – made of ice.

Undoubtedly, though, the most fun part about this section of the festival was the slides. Four slides made of ice were available in the first three room – down from the icy bus, down from the castles above the maze – and by two dragons, which represented the recently-ended Chinese Year of the Dragon.

After exploring these three rooms, we were sure it was all over. We saw no way to continue. I felt a bit relieved, as we had dinner reservations in another city and we were already risking being late, yet mostly – I felt disappointed. I did wait for this for a year. These were dream temperatures for me. I could live in Ice City forever.

I wanted more.

Fortunately, though, I noticed a sign above an icy palace’s gate. For some reason, the signs in Ice City were only in Hebrew. That was strange, as tourist attractions in Israel often have signs in Hebrew, English and Arabic. Yet fortunately for us, I know Hebrew, and I could read that it directed us to continue.

On we went, walking through a hallway made of ice. A whole new frozen world was about to reveal itself to us…


Have you ever been to an ice festival? Would you slide down icy slides?



  1. So fun!! It is officially winter here in Australia and I’m FREEZING so I totally need those pants of yours. 🙂 This looks like such a jolly outing – I’m so glad you had a good friend to go sledding with you. 🙂 Yes, I would totally do this and would LOVE the slides. 🙂

    • The slides were so much fun! 🙂 I’ll happily deliver the pants to you in a freezing country, since it’s officially hot and humid here again.

  2. I did not know that you briefly thought you’d lost your mind when we entered the ice festival. You certainly recovered quickly 🙂 You are absolutely right that you need a ton of winter gear to make it through. You know, if you hadn’t suggested this festival to me, I never would have gone, but am VERY happy I did. Your photos are really so good – way better than mine. I know what you’ll say – there’s always next year! Maybe, but I think a warmer solution would be to just buy a better camera for myself 😉

    • LOL, yeah, it was a bit embarrassing, given that I love winter so much. I did recover quickly, and I still miss those great freezing temperatures. Did I mention how hot it is here now? I am SO glad you got to come…. and that you got to wear warm clothes! A better camera is a great gift for yourself, though I do love the photos you took 🙂 And yes – let’s go again next year 🙂

  3. An ice exhibit is the last place I would put on my list but you’ve showed me that I definitely should! This is amazing. Have you ever visited an ice hotel? I know there is one in Canada and Sweden.

    • Annie, you made my day! Always glad to show how wonderful winter can be 🙂 Haven’t been to an ice hotel, only (metaphorically) drooled over photos. Definitely on my list!

  4. The name of the festival speaks for itself! haha! I am glad that you’re body adjusted to the temperature well! It looks like you really enjoyed the festival! 🙂

    • Thanks! Turns out it’s very easy for me to adjust to cold. I’m grateful for the air conditioner this summer!

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