As you don your orange jacket to enter Dubai Garden Glow’s latest attraction, the Ice Park, you are not at all prepared for what’s in store for you: a spectacular world of ice sculptures served up in a bone-chilling environment.
For people who have never been to a place where the mercury dips below zero degree Celsius, the Ice Park is a revelation. With temperatures touching -10 degrees Celsius, the cold pierces through your clothes. You wait for your body to get acclimatised to the conditions, but it never does and soon enough you resign yourself to losing fingers and toes to frostbite and start to focus on the beautiful works of art.
At first you are taken aback a little though, seeing the sights of the desert in an ice setting. Camels carved in ice rest alongside the entrance while Egyptian deities decorate the walls.
As you move along, your eyes fall upon the towering sculpture of the world’s tallest building, Burj Khalifa, dwarfing a children’s play area and dominating a section of the UAE’s architectural achievements. With true-to-life ice carvings, it’s not difficult to make out Abu Dhabi’s Shaikh Zayed Mosque jostling for space with Dubai’s Emirates Towers and Burj Al Arab standing tall to an Emirates airline with one of the terminals as a backdrop.
Once you take in the artistry, scale and detail involved in building these familiar icons, you walk down a bridge to an area that houses the unfamiliar for residents of the desert - penguins and polar bears, and a seat that’s shaped like a penguin throne, a popular spot for photos - that is if you can take your hands out of your pockets and work the camera with those numb digits.
Or you saunter down the tunnel, another selfie hotspot, to a space devoted to prehistoric and mythological creatures, with Deira’s magnificent Clock Tower acting as the centrepiece and an igloo, the snow house of the indigenous people of northern Canada, Inuit, lending support.
Children are taken in by the dinosaur section, where intricate carvings of triceratops, brontosaurus, tyrannosaurs and pterosaurs, complete with hatching eggs, give a glimpse of life during prehistoric times. Kids may be tempted to touch and feel, but they better keep their hands to themselves as the sculptures are delicate and break easily.
What’s more spellbinding is the exquisite sculpture of Pegasus pulling an ornate carriage, all chiselled out of a huge block of ice. Equally stunning is a highly detailed and scaly dragon with its wings spread out.
As you wander around the park, you cannot but marvel at the finesse and craftsmanship of the 150-odd artists who created these sculptures in biting cold. And it wouldn’t be a surprise if thoughts of coming back for another visit cross your mind. Just make sure you wear thermals this time around.
Tickets to Dubai Garden Glow cost Dh60 per head. Children under three go free. Entry fee to the Ice Park is Dh40. For more details, visit http://www.dubaigardenglow.com/