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Icy dreams of childhood in Grindelwald

An Italian entry based on a previous year's theme, Visions

(Keystone)

Artists from around the world will be trying to turn their childhood dreams into icy reality at a sculpture competition, the World Snow Festival, in the Bernese Oberland resort of Grindelwald.

For six days from January 15, several teams of artists will try to transform three-metre high blocks of snow into ice sculptures based on this year's theme, "Childhood Dreams".

The annual event began back in 1983 as a Japanese promotion. The theme that year was "Heidi", a character more popular in Japan than anywhere else. The festival has since become a regular attraction, drawing teams from Europe, the Americas, Japan and China.

Over the years, the artists have wracked their brains and cooled their sculpting tools over such diverse themes as "Reconciliation of Technology with Nature", "Swiss Democracy", "Mountain and Man", "Optimism" and "Solidarity".

A German team won last year's competition with their interpretation of "Declaration of Love". The jury bases its decision on criteria such as originality, execution and artistic interpretation.

The public can admire the works in progress and even cast a vote for their favourite sculpture.

The sculptures will remain on display on the outdoor ice rink in Grindelwald through January and February - global warming permitting.

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