World Record Ice Carousel & Ice Festival on Lake Lappajärvi

Episode 49

On Saturday 27th February 2021, myself and Glenn Murray, The Nordic Tourist, were invited to a special event on Lake Lappajärvi in Etelä-Pohjanmaa, to witness an attempt at the world record biggest ice carousel. What is that? Read on and I’ll explain all…

Guest: Janne Käpylehto, Inventor and Ice Carousel World Record ‘competitor’

Show Notes & Links

Attending the Ice Carousel World Record Attempt

On Saturday 27th February 2021, myself and Glenn Murray, The Nordic Tourist, were invited to a special event on Lake Lappajärvi in Etelä-Pohjanmaa, or South Ostrobothnia. We had been told that an intriguing world record attempt was to be made and would we like to cover it? Once it had been explained to us what, exactly, an ice carousel is we jumped at the chance. Thank you to the Mayors of the three local towns who invited us, Vesa Koivunen (Alajärvi), Sam Leijonanmieli (Vimpeli) and Sami Alasara (Lappajärvi).

To prepare us for the main event, we spoke with inventor and ice carousel aficionado, Janne Käpylehto, the very man that was about to make the world record attempt. He explained how he came to be in the business of making ice carousels and how you do it. ‘For a small ice carousel,’ Janne said ‘it is possible to mark out a circle with a peg and some long pieces of wood. Then you just use a chainsaw to cut through the ice all the way round. We use an outboard motor from a boat to make the carousel turn.’

For the world record attempt, however, things would need to be bigger; lasers to mark-out the circumference of the circle, a home-made device called the ‘Red Devil’ to make the first cut, then longer chainsaws to cut the carousel ‘free’. Janne explained that he would have a team of 10 people, all armed with a chainsaw to cut his ice carousel and that the work would take six days of preparation before the world record attempt on the Saturday.

Janne also told us about his position as the Chair of the World Ice Carousel Association, the body that promotes the activity worldwide and archives the various records, such as, the largest Ice carousel, the fastest Ice carousel, the thickest Ice Carousel, etc. Finally, he explained what we could expect to see on the Saturday, ‘the party day’! Depending on COVID restrictions, there were plans for an ice sauna and hot tub, an ice sculpting competition and a game of Finnish Baseball, called Pesäpallo – it’s quite different to the American sport!

On the day itself, we made our way to the Kivitippu Spa Hotel, situated on a picturesque peninsula in Lappajärvi, at the northern tip of the lake. The weather was beautiful; blue sky plus temperature (just about) and sunny all day. This also made things very challenging. The preceding week had seen very heavy snowfall, so the ice carousel area was covered in 60cm (2 feet) of soft, powdery snow. Not only did this make the cutting difficult, it also meant the surface under our feet was treacherous; a hard but brittle surface, with slushy snow or water underneath.

When we arrived, it became clear that the work on the ice carousel was progressing slower than planned. Glenn and I took the time to explore the carousel, speak with those taking part and even interview the three Mayors who had been integral to this event. The previous day, they had skied the 80km around Lake Lappajärvi then slept in a tent on the lake. They explained the motivation behind this event and their hopes for developing this into an annual Winter Festival, starting with a larger venture in early-2022.

It transpired that the world record could not be achieved… on the Saturday. However, on Monday 1.8.2021, Janne and his team smashed the previous record of 228.58m diameter, by an incredible 80m! The official size of Janne’s 2021 world record was 308.78m diameter (approx 1000m circumference.

You can hear my interview with Janne and my conversation with the Mayors, on the ice, in the Explore Finland radio Show podcast.

You can see how our day went on the frozen Lake Lappajärvi in The Nordic Tourist’s YouTube video (below).

Watch & Listen To This Episode


Watch the Nordic Tourist video –
World Record Ice Carousel: The Wild West of Finland Part 2

Finnish Words

Useful Links

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