Some years back when I was living the high life in that there London, I was taken to Sweden’s Ice Hotel in the Arctic Circle. Temperatures were routinely minus 15° Celsius and one night was spent in the sprawling igloo itself. It was an experience never to be forgotten, not least because I spent most of the early hours warming up in the toilets – the only heated room. 

Of all the memories from that glorious weekend, the 45-foot ICEBAR is one that stands out. An ice bar within an ice hotel where, you guessed it, the drinks are served in receptacles made from ice. We availed ourselves of so many vodka shots that the heat from our lips melted the glasses. 

And so it was with a certain degree of chutzpah that I shepherded members of the Northern Soul team into Manchester’s Ice Village which this year includes the Ice Tiki Bar. Kept at a bracing minus 10° Celsius, this new attraction marries the South Pacific with the frozen North (no, I don’t why either). And, you’ve guessed it, the cocktails are served in ice glasses.

As it turns out, hanging around a Lapland ice bar dressed in expensive thermals isn’t quite the same as propping up the bar in Manchester with only a Primark hat and a scarf knitted by your mum for protection against the cold. I can see the novelty appeal (and it was fun) but if you’re planning on braving the below-freezing temperatures I’d avail yourselves of the cloaks offered at the door.

More diverting and, for that matter, proper impressive, is the adjoining Ice Cavern. It’s just as chilly but instead of alcohol to stop your teeth chattering, there’s an array of finely crafted and beautifully lit ice sculptures. From unicorns and dragons to princess carriages and snails, this is a must-see, if only to numb your bum on the ice slide. And, unlike its Scandinavian counterpart, there’s no naked Eastern European nutter encouraging you to jump in a frozen lake. 

By Helen Nugent, Editor of Northern Soul

Photos by Gary Brown

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