While many are praying for a reprieve from frozen temperatures, a frozen, hand-carved wonderland on ice could prove reason enough to bundle up and embrace a Whyte winter.

“It’s an extravaganza that’s so magical, it’s hard to describe sometimes,” Ice on Whyte coordinator Wanda Bornn said, moments before the seventh annual seasonal fest launched Thursday night.

Festival Park will play host to the frozen family-focused event until Jan. 24.

Ten teams of artists from around the globe are competing for minor fortune and modest glory, pitting their chiseled, chopped and molded works of art against one another.

“It’s hard to imagine that you can take a chainsaw to a block of ice and make all this magical, amazing stuff happen,” Bornn said.

Veteran painter, sculptor, glass-blower and musician Tom Billings applied creative craftsmanship to a block of ice for the first time at the festival this week, which slowly transformed into a Pegasus.

“It’s been totally awesome,” he said.

Warmer temps threatened over 72,000 kg of imported clear ice used to create the exhibits, though organizers breathed a sigh of relief when the mercury dropped before the weekend.

“We found tarps that cool the ice,” Bornn said. “If it’s bright and sunny, we’ll just deal with it.”

Admission is $2 per person, and includes access to events like karaoke, open mic night, and interactive exhibits including a massive ice slide and maze.

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