Winter means different things to different people. For some, it is the chance to cozy up to a warm fire, for others, a time to frolic in the snow. Then there are those that head to the Takhini Hot Springs in Yukon, Canada to participate in the wacky and hilarious International Hair Freezing Contest.
As the name indicates, the event requires contestants to come up with the most creative frozen hairdo possible. For best results, the hot springs officials suggest starting with the basic requirement — hair! The more there is, the better the chances of success. They then recommend arriving at the resort when it’s really cold ideally, below 4°F (-20°C). Though hair will freeze at temperatures above that, it will take a lot longer. To enable people to select the perfect day, the contest is open for the entire month of February, which is traditionally the coldest time of the year for this remote Canadian region.
After checking in, participants are led to the natural hot springs, which boast a temperature of 104°F (40°C). Thanks to the frigid external temperature, a simple duck underwater is enough to freeze hair. Participants can then sculpt and forge it into frozen masterpieces and take a few photos to hand over to the hot springs officials. Another quick dip into the warm water will restore the hair back to its original glory. However, contestants are warned that all hair — facial, eyebrows, and even eyelashes — will need thawing.
In addition to bragging rights, the contest also offers some lucrative prizes. This year’s winner, announced in mid-March, will be awarded $750 CAD and a 30 soak membership at the hot springs. The runner-up will receive $200 CAD and a 12 soak pass, while the third-place winner will go home with $100 CAD and a 3-day soak pass. Past winners have included standing hairstyles, iced beards, maniac mohawks, and Medusa-inspired updos. Takhini Hot Springs owner Andrew Umbrich says one of the most unusual photos submitted this year is a joint hairdo by a woman with dreadlocks and a man with long hair.
The lodge officials say the contest, started as a lark in 2011 by a former manager, originally attracted just 10 to 15 contestants. However, thanks to some frozen hair photos that went viral in 2015, it has become hugely popular and now draws scores of people from all over the globe.