“Art is freedom. Being able to bend things most people see as a straight line. “
I feel most people work from their minds, but the artists work from their hearts. That’s what we experienced when we visited the Fire and Ice Festival in a small town of Lititz in Pensylvania, USA. Into its 13th year, this free event takes place every year on the President’s day weekend.
It begins on Friday evening with the artists carving the block of ice into a beautiful creation. It is fascinating to see how using tools like chisel and chainsaws, a block of ice turns lively.
There were about 60 sculptures displayed along the Broad Street, Main street and the Springs Park of the town adding to the charm of the town.
When I knew about the festival, I was intrigued by the name and kept wondering what would ‘fire’ refer to here. Fire refers to the chili cookoff that happens on Saturday, which is a ticketed event. Some chefs compete for the best-cooked chili, which adds to the fire and excitement of the event. There is so much fun in terms of kids carnival, music, games and activities planned to keep the kids also entertained. Streets become art gallery displaying the fine ice creations of some geniuses, admired by the patrons. The roads are closed for traffic on Saturday.
Sunday and Monday are days to walk around the streets to admire the sculptures with a cup of hot coffee.
We visited on Sunday, walked around and found some interesting and fun artwork- tractors, tow trucks, beautiful rose, hummingbird sipping nectar, flowers, dragons, musical instruments, work tools and so much more.
Kids found some interesting ways to enjoy the sculptures.
We realized that the weather is an important factor to have these pieces of art in perfect shape. Since a day prior it had snowed, it was accumulated at some pieces and sun on that day melting the ice.
The event is a great way to boost the economy of the small town and help the local businesses.
And when you are there don’t miss the local Wilbur chocolate factory store. They have been in business since 1884. With lots of variety of chocolates – milk and dark, chocolate covered pretzels, gold coins, their famous Wilbur buds, coffee and so much more. There were many patrons of these chocolates filling their bags and hearts. We found them a bit expensive, but worth checking out some fun candies and tasting the samples.
This was a perfect way to feed our creative souls, raising our spirits on a cold day and let the kids admire a new form of art.
“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time”. ~Thomas Merton.
- Use the map of the event and ice sculptures to walk around which is available on fire and ice festival
- Tickets for Chili cook-off are available at Stauffer’s of Kissel Hill (Lititz location only) Dosie Dough, Bomberger’s and Aaron’s Books. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for kids 12 and under. Do check the official website for prices and locations before going.
- Food trucks line up the streets on Friday and Saturday to enjoy the appetizing food.
- Parking available at Warwick High School or Lititz Elementary school. Street parking both metered and unmetered are also available around Main and Broad streets. On Sunday and Monday, parking is also available at Lititz Springs Park. We found free street parking next to the Main street as it was Sunday.
- Wear comfortable shoes and dress for the weather as most of it is outside and might be wet.
Where to eat:
If you happen to be visiting during Ice festival, there might be a lot of options on the food trucks available on Friday and Saturday. Otherwise, there are some great choices-
- Dosie Dough – a small famous bakery to grab bagels, sandwiches or a hot latte.
- Tomato pie cafe – A Victorian house, converted to a restaurant offers a wide variety of choices to satisfy.
Fun things to do for kids:
- Appreciating the fascinating Ice sculptures and letting the imagination run wild.
- Caboose museum – There is a caboose outside the Lititz Springs park that has been converted into a museum and has some models of trains and information about the history of rails in this region. Great way to spend 15 minutes.
- Wilbur chocolate factory store – a sweet treat for all right on the Broad Street. The factory opened doors way back in 1884. The enticing chocolate aroma fills up the air as you walk into the store. They are famous for their signature Wilbur buds for which you can get free samples.
- Julius Sturgis Pretzel Bakery. It is the place where pretzels were sold commercially in the US for the first time around 157 years back. Tours offered every day that talk about the history of pretzel making. The factory still uses the original method and recipe for making their pretzels even today. It is fascinating to see the old brick ovens used to bake the twisted treats. One can even try hands twisting their own pretzels. Tours tickets are $3.50 adults and $2.50 for kids.
- Feeding the ducks in Lititz Springs Park. Don’t forget to carry some quarters.
Fun facts about ice carving
- Ice carving, an art taught in culinary schools, meant to be a form of food decorations is a popular skill now practiced outside.
- Ice sculptures are a perishable form of art and depend upon the temperature for its life. The cooler the weather, longer the life. Just like the day we visited, it was sunny and temperatures touching 45F, and we could see some melting.
- Ice sculpting is a part of Winter Olympics, not as a sport though but Olympic art festival.
- There are many ice and Snow festivals and competitions all across the northern hemisphere. Some famous are –
- International Ice sculpture competition in Fairbanks, Alaska
- Harbin International Ice and sculpture festival, China
- Ice music festival, Norway where artists play musical instruments made from ice.
More to explore around Lititz
Lititz, known as the coolest small town of US is at a great location in Lancaster County. Besides to add to your list, you can explore the countryside life of the Amish people, go shopping, go on adventure rides or visit a Japanese Pagoda all within an hour.
- Lancaster – It is home to the oldest Amish community in the US. With traditional lifestyle, you still see them riding the horse buggies and not using the electricity. Doesn’t it sound like going back on time machine? The vast farmlands with lush green cornfields, cows grazing in the barn, farmer working are all that you see and experience in this Dutch country. Riding strong on their culture and holding the roots tight, it’s an opportunity not to be missed.
- Japanese pagoda – The 7 story pagoda is atop Mt Penn which is visible from the city of Reading. The pagoda is open only on Saturday and Sunday from 12-4 p.m. and is free to explore.
- Kitchen kettle village – If you want to experience shopping of local and handmade Amish food and craft, then this is the must visit. From jams and jellies, quilts, handmade fudge to Dutch furniture, can be shopped for. For the complete experience, read about in our post Kitchen Kettle.
- Dutch Wonderland – An amusement park for the kids with more than 35 rides, where you could spend the whole day enjoying. It has water play area which opens during summer. Do check the website for hours ad tickets. Best time to visit is during summer when you can enjoy the water park.
Have you been to Lititz or Lancaster County? Have you been to any Ice and snow festival? Did you admire a new form of art? Do share your experiences with us. We would love to hear your views.