From Snow White to White Walkers - what to expect from Durham’s Fire & Ice Festival

From The Gruffalo carved from a tonne of ice to a frosty incarnation of William Shakespeare, this year’s Fire & Ice Festival is set to be a cool event.

Tasked with creating the striking literary-themed sculptures, which will form a flame-lit trail in Durham City this weekend, are the team from ice sculpting company Glacial Art.

Ice Sculptor Matt Chaloner at Durham Cathedral

Ice Sculptor Matt Chaloner at Durham Cathedral

They’re no strangers to crafting awe-inspiring ice spectacles after working on an ice stone circle for season 4 of Game of Thrones, as well as working on press days for the TV phenomenon.

Leader of the White Walkers, The Night’s King, will join other characters on the free trail, which also includes Paddington Bear, Mr Earthworm from James and the Giant Peach, Snow White, Gandalf from Lord of the Rings and more.

Each piece will take around a day to complete, with new sculptures put in place each morning of the event, which runs this Friday and Saturday from 10am.

Ice sculptor Matt Chaloner provided a flavour of the festival by creating a Merlin sculpture at a preview event at Durham Cathedral.

Ice Sculptor Matt Chaloner at Durham Cathedral

Ice Sculptor Matt Chaloner at Durham Cathedral

Speaking about his favourite creations, he said: “The Gruffalo has been great fun to do as I’ve read that story a million times with my children. That’s one of the great things about this festival: seeing the children’s faces when they see the sculptures.

“We also run a competition with local kids where we carve their designs and it’s always great to see what they come up with.”

He added: “It’s the perfect forecast next weekend for the event as it’s going to be cold. We make the sculptures chunky so they keep their features when they melt, but they are organic, they melt as the day goes on. So it being cold is the perfect weather to keep them looking their best.”

Adam Deathe, from Fire & Ice InDurham organisers Durham BID, said: “This is our third year and we chose the theme of literary characters because it’s such a broad spectrum that’s open to all walks of life, from book characters to meaningful scriptures.

Ice Sculptor Matt Chaloner at Durham Cathedral

Ice Sculptor Matt Chaloner at Durham Cathedral

“There’ll be something for everyone on the trail, as well as places where people can have a go themselves in Market Place and Millennium Place. The footfall for the event increases every year and it’s great because restaurants get involved, as well as the shops who do themed displays.

“Cities are evolving and they can’t just rely on a retail offer anymore. Durham has a lot to offer visitors, it already has a strong cultural offering, but it’s also increasing its retail and leisure offering, so people can spend the whole day here.”

Ice Sculptor Matt Chaloner at Durham Cathedral

Ice Sculptor Matt Chaloner at Durham Cathedral

Ice Sculptor Matt Chaloner at Durham Cathedral

Ice Sculptor Matt Chaloner at Durham Cathedral

Ice Sculptor Matt Chaloner at Durham Cathedral

Ice Sculptor Matt Chaloner at Durham Cathedral

Ice Sculptor Matt Chaloner at Durham Cathedral

Ice Sculptor Matt Chaloner at Durham Cathedral