Winter Carousels: Circular Spinning Ice Islands Carved with Chainsaws

ice carousels

Ice fishing huts and art shanties allow people to enjoy peaceful winters and creative expression on frozen lakes, but for those with something more dynamic in mind: rotating DIY islands of ice are also an option.


Ice circles have been known to form naturally, particularly in streams where a current can round the edges of a free-floating chunk and keep it spinning. The ice circle below captured by Kaylyn Messer is one such example, found this winter in the Snoqualmie River near Seattle, Washington.

ice circle

These kinds of formations happen on their own at times in Scandinavian and American rivers, water currents slowly shaping the ice. Lakes with fully-frozen surfaces are another matter — creating ice islands on their surface requires a bit more ingenuity (or at least: labor and machinery).

winter spinning ice

Once created, these may or may not move on their own, depending on currents below the surface — in some cases they have to be helped along by an outboard motor. Seating and shelters can be brought out to make them more homey (small fires can even be lit if the intended use is temporary).

Fair warning, though: if you plan to light your ice circle on fire at the end of a festival or gathering, be sure to stay far back from the flames and warming ice.

The best part is that there is no waste in the making of these things nor assembly required. And if your first attempt fails (assuming you don’t go down with the island), you can always carve out more.