See Fire and Ice Festival return to Durham with Game of Thrones sculptors - despite mild half-term weather

The weather isn’t the only thing heating up this weekend as a popular Fire & Ice Festival makes its return.

Friday, 22nd February 2019, 5:00 am
Mat Chaloner of Glacial Art, at work on a ice sculpture at Durham Cathedral

Despite temperatures being unseasonably mild, sculptors from Fire & Ice InDurham say the ice sculpture trail around Durham City will still make an impact.

This year’s festival will have a Heroes and Villains theme and sculptors from Glacial Art have spent the past month crafting frosty figures from six tonnes of ice including Batman, Darth Vader, a firefighter complete with hose and running water, Wonder Woman, Grace Darling and Ant and Dec, who won a local heroes people’s vote to be depicted in ice.

Mat Chaloner of Glacial Art, at work on a ice sculpture at Durham Cathedral

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Mat Chaloner, who founded Glacial Art with fellow Sunderland University graduate Mat Foster, has crafted pieces for high-profile shows such as Game of Thrones and brands including Rolex and Gucci. But he says coming back to the North East is always a highlight of their year.

“We do a lot of these festivals but the Durham one is one of the biggest we do and it’s always great to come back. The sculptures get such a great response, especially from the kids,” he said.

The sculpture trail, which is lit by flames, will be in place from 10am today and tomorrow and is free to attend.

Mat added: “The sculptures will slowly melt during the course of the day and part of the beauty of working with ice is seeing it change shape. The sculptures will be outside for around 12 hours in total, and they’ll be absolutely fine, despite the mild weather.

The sculpture of a minotaur takes shape

“The Wonder Woman sculpture is quite delicate so by the end of the day she’ll have more of a general female shape. The Grace Darling statue, however, is larger and should keep her detail quite well.”

Now in its fourth year, the festival is organised by Durham BID and is aimed at driving footfall in the city.

Adam Deathe, business engagement manager at Durham BID, said: “Fire & Ice InDurham has proved to be a hugely popular event on the calendar and last year it was the second busiest weekend in Durham, which is a huge achievement. Some businesses said it had been their busiest trading day ever.

“The whole point in the event is to encourage people to explore Durham and for quite a lot of people the trail takes them to places in the city they haven’t been to before.”

Asked about whether he was concerned about the rise in temperature, he said: “Many of these kind of sculptures are used at weddings and functions where they are inside and under lights all day so it’s no problem for them to be outside on a February afternoon.”