What is Stockholm’s ICEBAR like? Well, as you’d expect, it’s like walking into a giant freezer. A freezer with a bar, that is. A freezer full of animals elaborately carved into huge blocks of glistening ice. A freezer where people wander around in foil capes.
So, not really like a freezer at all. Except that it’s cold, which is really where that simile was going.
Having lived in Sweden for three winters I am familiar with just how cold Stockholm gets, so in comparison with -28°c February days ICEBAR’s regulated -5°c is actually pretty mild. However, on a warm July evening when you have no coat and open shoes it sure feels a helluva lot colder.
Thank goodness for those arctic robes you’re given when you arrive!
Visiting ICEBAR was the first thing I did when I came to Stockholm to attend TBEX this summer. A few days earlier, I responded to a Facebook post suggesting a group visit, which a few people had signed up to. Since this year’s conference was my first ever TBEX, I was nervous at the prospect of meeting so many of my travel blogging peers – many of whom I have admired since their early days, and I thought it would be good to meet a few people before the event.
Feeling a little lost, I loitered near the entrance for a few moments.
“Are you with TBEX?” a voice said behind me. I turned to see a friendly-featured fellow smiling at me.
“Yes. It’s my first one, I’m really nervous”, I blurted.
Damn, not the cool and collected entrance I was hoping for.
Before long, more people had gathered and we were handed the signature blue capes with the (faux) fur-lined hoods and gloves. Finally, we were ushered inside; a bunch of excited bloggers with the place almost to ourselves.
ICEBAR: a Winter Wonderland
It’s a cliché to say it, but ICEBAR really is a winter wonderland – it’s designed to be magical. This year’s theme is ‘Wild Encounters’, so the ice is carved with all sorts of elaborate Scandinavian animal carvings. A bear towers in one corner, whilst a deer peeps out cautiously from behind a crystal wall. Neon lights scatter colour in every direction as it bounces off the ice. It truly is spectacular.
When you book to visit ICEBAR (you should book ahead as it is really popular), you are allocated a 40-minute slot. With your ticket you receive a complimentary shot poured into a shot-glass made entirely of ice. All the shots are named after animals, I had the ‘Gray Wolf’, which was vodka mixed with lingonberry and lime. The thick gloves make it possible to hold your drink, but if you keep taking your gloves off to take pictures, as I did, your hands will feel the cold very quickly.
It’s easy enough to keep warm though, as you are too busy moving around the bar to see all the decorations before it’s time to leave. The only problem I had was trying to find somewhere to put down my drink, as the flat surfaces had become so worn and smooth that the glass started to slide off!
Taking its inspiration from the Ice Hotel in Jukkasjärvi, Stockholm created the world’s first permanent ice bar and many more have opened up around the world since. Given the incredible amount of time, work and talent that goes into designing and carving the interior, I think the entrance fee ($22 online/$24 at the door) is very reasonable – especially as you get a drink included. You can find out more at their website here: http://www.icebarstockholm.se/en/
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