Every spring, the village people cut huge blocks of ice from a nearby river and store them in a special building through the summer and fall. When the weather turns bitterly cold again, artists from all over the world come to the village. The blocks of ice come out of the storehouse and are used with snow to build the walls and framework of a hotel. Then the artists get to work. Each one crafts a different room, using ice and snow as their only building materials. When each beautiful room is done, a bed of ice is installed and covered with reindeer hides. A church and a bar, both made of ice, are also built. Finally the ice hotel is opened to the public.
Visitors to the hotel can go on a tour of the icy rooms, join in wintry activities such as dog sledding, ice carving, and skiing, see the northern lights, and eat at the ice hotel's restaurant and bar (even the glasses in the bar are made of ice). Couples can get married in the ice church. Guests are given the choice of sleeping in a room carved of ice, or a warm room in a Swiss cabin. If they choose to sleep in the ice hotel, they are given a warm sleeping bag, and off they go to their room. Though some guests describe the experience as magical, others find it hard to go to sleep - they're too warm with the sleeping bag, and much too cold without it!