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The Nativity on Ice in Austria

Artist creates giant ice sculpture of Jesus’ birth scene

The Nativity on Ice in Austria

It’s a chilly piece of art with a heart-thawing message. A well-known Austrian artist has carved a life-size manger scene out of ice.

Since 1996, Hoedl and his international team have created a giant ice sculpture Nativity scene in Graz, Austria, displayed throughout the Advent season, The Huffington Post reported.

"People from the tourist office asked me if I have an idea for an attraction in the Advent season, because the Advent season is a highlight in whole Europe. And then I was thinking, I have to do an ice-scape in ice,” Hoedl said in a Nov. 27 video clip on Norwegian news agency scanpix ( “You get it in chocolate, you get it marzipan, you get it in wood, but it was never done in ice,” he said.

“So we started to make the first ice-scape, as I said, in 1996. Since then, it was a real success. Every year the Advent season is growing with the visitors, and every year around 600 to 700 thousand people come to look at the ice-scape."

This year, the team used ice blocks, chainsaws and chisels to create the figures out of 54 tons of ice. The scene includes all the crèche figures – Jesus, Mary and Joseph, along with angels, the Magi and a star. The team – Graz and two artists from Finland, two from Latvia and two from Austria – began work on the sculpture Nov. 25 and worked for two days to complete the icy project.

Hoedl has been creating sculptures out of ice for the past two decades, according to his website, He enjoys working with ice because, he remarks on the site, “this world of frozen water, whatever its size, is not more than an expression of nature – its destruction is inevitable, it will melt.” In 2002, the city of Graz asked Hoedl to create the National Ice Carving Association Ice Art World Championship.

The scene will be displayed until Jan. 7, a day after Epiphany, in the Landhaus courtyard.


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