Snow Castle in Kemi, Finland
Every year the city of Kemi, in Lapland in northern Finland, sees the building of the world's largest snow castle. Since the first massive snow construction in 1996, the SnowCastle has been built anew with different architecture.
It has to be built from scratch beginning each December when the temperature is a steady -8° C (17° F), when the weather conditions allow for making the snow. Variations of the castle have been as large as 20,000 square meters, with walls over 1000 m (3200 ft) long and towers over 20 m (65 ft) high; the castle has been three stories tall, and yet no support structures are used within the ice and snow.
The Snow Castle in Kemi is more than an enormous snow fort. Every year it also has a restaurant, the SnowRestaurant, where diners sit at tables of ice on benches covered with reindeer fur; another feature is the SnowChapel, which is ecumenical, open to all church groups, and consecrated every season.
Weddings have been held there, both church and civil, as have christenings, and a local Lutheran group holds regular services in its 100-seat space.
The SnowHotel is another popular feature every year. After the gates close for the night, overnight guests can go to rooms furnished entirely in sculpted snow and ice. Despite the steady below-freezing temperature, guests are advised that light underwear, socks, and a hat should suffice to keep them warm inside outer and inner sleeping bags that rest on lambskins.
Opening each year in January and closing in April before the warming sun can disfigure it too greatly, Kemi's snow castle is yearly a new marvel of snow architecture.
Light effects add to the displays of snow and ice sculpture, for which ice is taken from the Gulf of Bothnia. The SnowCastle has given Kemi, Finland well-deserved world attention.