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South Tyrol

The South Tyrol Ice Sculpture Festival is the perfect excuse for a January ski holiday

05 January 2023

3 minutes

The 32nd International Ice Sculpture Festival in the South Tyrolean resorts of San Candido and San Vigilio di Marebbe is an original way to enjoy the beauty of winter. These are veritable open-air art galleries, where you can admire imaginative shapes carved out of ice. 

What to do in San Vigilio di Marebbe in winter: art, sport and culture

winter san virgilio

As World Snow Day approaches, which in 2023 falls on Sunday 15 January, the International Festival of Ice Sculptures returns to the picturesque San Vigilio di Marebbe. The event has reached its 32nd year: scheduled to take place from 11 to 13 January, it will see 30 artists from all over the world compete to the sound of barbed wire, saws, shovels and, of course, lots of snow. In the most picturesque parts of the South Tyrolean resort, at an altitude of 1285 metres with freezing temperatures ranging from 0° to -8° at this time of year, you can admire enormous cubes of snow pressed and frozen with water, on which the 10 groups of participants will create truly unique sculptures.

In addition, the proximity to the Plan de Corones ski resort makes this the perfect destination for sports enthusiasts, with over 100 km of slopes for hours of pure fun. Thanks to the ski schools, beginners are supported in taking their first steps, while more experienced skiers are guided to improve their technique. Each school will tailor its offerings to suit your needs, from alpine skiing to snowboarding, tobogganing, telemark and cross-country skiing.

If, on the other hand, you prefer other experiences, you can try your hand at relaxing walks in the snow or wonderful snowshoeing along the paths of the Fanes-Senes-Braies nature park.

The characteristic old town with its traditional Ladin houses is also worth a visit. Don't miss the cathedral, with its Baroque façade, Gothic bell tower and Renaissance wood-carved high altar; and Ras Castle, where the original battlements are still visible in the attic. In short, in San Vigilio di Marebbe you can leave the hustle and bustle of the city behind and treat yourself to a wonderful holiday.

The ice sculptures in San Candido: fun, movement and a magical atmosphere

fun motorbike atmosphere san candido

Ice is also the main element in San Candido, which hosts the International Ice Sculpture Festival just a few days later than in San Vigilio, from 16 to 18 January to be exact. You can also admire the artists' works at night, thanks to the specially designed lighting system, and until spring, when the weather will melt the sculptures.

In the heart of Alta Pusteria, at an altitude of 1175 metres, the enchanting South Tyrolean town is around 20 km from Lake Braies: a must-see if you are in the area.

San Candido lends itself perfectly to a skiing holiday, thanks to the 3 Cime Dolomiti ski area and its 115 km of slopes for all levels of ability. You can choose to ski down the slopes or whizz down the toboggan runs, all in a UNESCO World Heritage natural landscape. Take advantage of the convenient lift facilities, which include a modern 10-seater gondola lift, and keep the kids happy with the many attractions in the area, including the gnome village on Monte Baranci.

Drop by the magical Christmas Market, full of local handicrafts and gastronomic specialities. Breathe in the festive atmosphere among the churches and monuments, decorated with lights and decorations.

Finally, treat yourself to a pleasant bike ride from San Candido to Lienz, along one of South Tyrol's most popular trails: the Drava Cycle Path. It's a 44 km well-marked and undemanding trail, also suitable for families, for a wonderful excursion on two wheels. An experience to be enjoyed, in spring or summer, to explore two towns through the meadows and forests that lead from South Tyrol to the heart of East Tyrol.

Winter in San Vigilio di Marebbe and San Candido, amidst romantic snowflakes, pleasant hikes and dynamic slopes, is the perfect choice for a holiday filled with fun and relaxation. You will be immersed in an enchanted landscape, where you can take a break from your daily routine, perhaps sipping a cup of tea or hot chocolate in a characteristic mountain hut.

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