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Chilling out in the coolest ice bars

Over the last 25 years Icebox has designed and built in excess of 300 ice bars. Out of these 300, over 20 of these have been a semi-permanent or ‘pop –up’ inside freezer rooms. The idea of why people visit these type of ice bars, what they experience and some background as to how we create these impressive installations we thought may be worth sharing.

For the standalone event; a sponsor supporting the opening of an ice rink, like Fortnum & Mason’s 4m branded ice bar at Somerset House; Seabourn Yachts entertaining clients at their newest luxury cruise ship launch party on the river Thames, a Coca Cola sponsored VIP bar experience at the Jingle Bell Ball or as part of the ultimate chill out lounge at a spectacular wedding in India, ice bars have a unique, allure and style. Not the ‘cheesy’ association with swans and dolphins, more a practical statement to enhance a message, branding or really make the event memorable for the guests attending.

We’ve watched guests double take as the mixologists serve their incredible cocktails, the chefs carve the salmon, roll the sushi or serve the oysters and caviar from the ice bar – “it really is ice!” We can do almost anything to make them a practical and stunning event feature; bespoke in design or finish, inside or outside, summer or winter, they are incredibly versatile and great value.

The more impressive and challenging reference to an Ice Bar is the semi-permanent Ice Bar. Built inside a freezer room, either as part of a broader nightclub or bar offer, or the increasingly popular pop-up Ice Bar project. The experience of going into these types of beautiful ice rooms or ice caves, is almost the surreal feeling of going into the cold, enjoying the novel atmosphere, artistic and clever artwork in ice, sculptures and designs and usually drinking from ice glasses! It is a slightly alpine, après ski, feeling the cold and having fun in a creative icy environment.

The seasonal pop-up ice bars that we have been involved in designing and creating year on year are enhanced with an original and often quite quirky theme which runs throughout the bar experience – our favourite of which was the Illusion/Houdini theme. These projects are architectural and have to be designed to hold their structural integrity during the run of the installation, sometimes this can be for six to nine months. They take months of planning, design and the pre-production and installation can take up to eight weeks.

The fascination that everyone has is the combination of the unusual setting and experience, with the combined opportunity to see a collection of clever and original art and sculptures inside the ice bar. It is ‘out of place’ – a juxtaposition maybe and totally unique.

The ice installations have also worked very effectively for brands, linking them to live events or specific campaigns. A couple of years ago we created two pop up ice bars for Coors Light in London and Manchester. These were very interactive, sell out sessions with DJ competitions and live performances by bands and DJ’s such as Rudimental. The Coors Light Bars, showed how this fantastic ‘ultimate cool’ and chilled experience was an effective live brand engagement, perfectly linking it to a wider campaign.

So, the world of ice bars, for one event or longer term is very much part of what we do and what we do really well, world leaders and world beating. We’re always working up new ideas in this area so watch this space!