Snow sculpture is a sculpture form comparable to sand sculpture or ice sculpture in that most of it is now practiced outdoors, and often in full view of spectators, thus giving it kindship to performance art in the eyes of some. The materials and the tools differ widely,but often include hand tools such as shovels, hatchets, and saws.
Snow sculptures are usually carved out of a single block of snow about 6 to 15 feet on each side and weighing about 20 - 30 tons. The snow is densely packed into a form after having been produced by artificial means or collected from the ground after a snowfall.
Since 1973 there has been an international snow sculpture contest during the Quebec City Winter Carnival and more recently the Winterlude celebrations have had snow sculpture events.
Many U.S. states hold their own competitions with a national event being held in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin each year. Perm, Russia; Breckenridge, Colorado; Sapporo, Japan; Frankenmuth, Michigan, and the Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival also host snow sculpting events.
The Saint Paul Winter Carnival which hosts snow and ice carving competitions is the oldest annual winter carnival in the world, with the first one being held in 1886, creating amateur snow sculptures is a popular pastime in some areas.
They are the prominent feature at the annual Winter Carnival at Michigan Technological University which has been a tradition since 1928.
These sculptures are not carved from a single block, but rather many blocks made over a month.
For this reason, they can grow quite large (Up to the regulated 28 feet tall and sometimes over 40-60 feet long).
Each year a theme is given for the winter carnival and the statues are created in the set theme. Student groups compete against each other in different divisions.