Come chill at Ice Fest, Ithaca’s coolest festival!

12th Annual Downtown Ithaca Ice Fest is Thursday, December 6 – Saturday, December 8, 2018.

Ice Fest is an annual tradition in Downtown Ithaca and no holiday season would be complete without a celebration of cold weather and cold weather sports…like Ice Carving!

Witness the nation’s finest ice carvers as they compete in 3 rounds of breathtaking competition.

Our 3 day festival features impressive display sculptures, a silent disco, fire dancing demonstrations, the ever-popular Ice Bar: an outdoor bar made entirely of ice, serving Bacchus Beer, Treleaven wine, and hot cocoa, and of course, the annual Chowder Cook-off on Saturday of Ice Fest.

2018 Ice Fest Sponsors


3 Days of Spectacular Celebration

Day I: Thursday evening
Ice Bar Opens & Silent Disco!

Visit the opening day of the outdoor Ice Bar. Bring the whole family and enjoy the winter weather with a glass of Bacchus beer, Treleaven wine, or non alcoholic cocoa while taking in fire fueled entertainment at this frosty extravaganza 5pm-9pm!

DJ ha-MEEN will be spinning tunes at the Silent Disco on the Bernie Milton Pavilion all evening so warm up with some winter dancing!

Nate the Great will demonstrate his incredible juggling and fire skills at 7 and 8 pm.

Day II: Friday evening
Speed Carving Competition

The opening competition of Ice Festival! From 5-9pm, watch these talented carvers test their speed and skill in this one-block, speed-carve, single elimination competition. DJ Gourd will provide the soundtrack. Each participant will have approximately 20 minutes to create a complete sculpture so the competition will run the duration of the event.

Ice Bar

Open and serving delicious hot and cold beverages from 5-9pm!

Thank you Tompkins Connect for bartending at the Ice Bar all weekend long!

Day III: Saturday, all day

A full day of excitement for everyone!

Main Event: Two-Block Showpiece Challenge

9am-5pm- This final round is the ultimate test of these carver’s abilities! Competitors will work throughout the day to produce a dramatic and impressive sculpture using 2 large blocks of ice. Carvers will not only compete with each other for points, but also with the elements, rain, extreme cold, or unseasonal heat. In early December, one never knows what the weather will be, making the competition that much more exciting. The winners will be announced at 5 pm on the Bernie Milton Pavilion!

Ice Bar

Open 12-5pm for warm or frosty beverages all day!


12-2pm Carolers from Flight Performing Arts will sing holiday songs throughout the Commons

2-2:30pm Civic Ensemble presents A Taste of Commedia Del’Arte on the Bernie Milton Pavilion

2-4 pm Meet the Snow-Mane Sled Dog Team – outside Center Ithaca on the Commons

3 pm Hanukkah Celebration on the Bernie Milton Pavilion

5pm Ice Sculptor Awards on the Bernie Milton Pavilion

Head inside Center Ithaca between 10am-2pm for the Habitat for Humanity Cookie Walk!


9th Annual Chowder Cook-Off!

Saturday, December 8, 12-5pm

Click on map to download a copy of the Chowder Cook-Off map and Ice Festival activities on Saturday.

The winners are in!

Best Seafood Chowder:
2nd place: Taverna Banfi
3rd place: Ithaca Bakery
Best Meat Chowder:
1st place: Max’s American Grill at The Hotel Ithaca
2nd place: Ithaca Bakery
3rd place: Eat the Foood
Best Veggie Chowder:
2nd place: Lou’s Covert Country Kitchen
3rd place: Viva Taqueria
Best Traditional (New England or Manhattan) Clam Chowder:
2nd place: Taverna Banfi

Thank you to all of our participants, and to all who attended and voted on your favorite chowders!

The Chowder Cook-off heats up on the Commons and surrounding streets including Aurora, Cayuga and Dewitt Mall! Ice Festival-goers can stay warm by sampling over 20 different traditional, exotic, and gourmet chowders from local restaurants competing to be crowned our next Chowder Cup Champions!

Chowder sampling tickets are one sale now in the Downtown Visitor Center located inside Center Ithaca.  Tickets will also be available at the event all day inside the Downtown Visitor Center & the Main Ticket/Info Booth outside on the Ithaca Commons on Saturday.


Directions & Parking

Attendees can park in the Green, Seneca, and Cayuga Street garages and walk to the Ice Festival and Chowder Cook-Off. The garages are equipped with accessible parking and elevators. Street parking is also available. 

For additional downtown parking information, click here. 

Don’t want to drive? See TCAT bus routes and schedules here. 


Event forms

Do you own a business in Downtown Ithaca?  Why not become part of the show! Order an ice sculpture to be delivered to your storefront for the duration of the festival! Custom sculptures available!

Does your restaurant, brewery, winery, or farm want to sign up to participate in the Chowder Cook-off? Sign up with the form below!