Ice Castles are magical in every way. They evoke scenes of wintery fun and mystery. I guess Christmas cartoons have done this. I also think of winter in the Alps with snow everywhere and mountains as far as the eye can see.
While these images are great they are also hard for the average person to get to. So, ‘Ice Castles’ has made it easier for us non-magical folks to play in their ice castles right here in the United States. How lucky are we?
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What is Ice Castles anyway?
Ice Castles is a man-made winter wonderland that professional ice sculptures make for us to play in. They use icicles, thousands upon thousands of them to make the structure. They also add LED lights for added fun. You will also find frozen thrones, ice-carved tunnels, slides, fountains, and other things for you to explore.
According to Ice Castles, their primary goal is:
to make people smile.
The whole concept for ice castles started out as a father’s way to get his kids outside playing in the snow. One year he made an ice cave in their yard and his kids loved it. Not only did his kids play in the ice cave but so did the neighborhood kids. The kids are the ones who came up with the name “ice castles” and it stuck. From that one year the founder, Brent Christensen has now made this wonderful outdoor experience for everyone to enjoy.
Some fun facts about Ice Castles:
- Each ice castle is over 20 million pounds! That’s more than 4 times as heavy as the State of Liberty!
- 12,000 icicles are grown every day!
Now I hope this has you excited to explore the ice castle location closest to you.
Where are the Ice Castles?
Ice Castles are located in five northern states, New Hampshire, New York, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Utah. While each location has all the same features the layouts are different for each state. This makes it all the more fun.
New Hampshire’s Ice Castles are in Franconia right off Route 93. This is where we visited and had an absolute blast last winter.
New York’s Ice Castles are in Lake George off of West Brook Road. This location is new this year and I’m sure it will be a huge hit.
The Wisconsin Ice Castles are on Lake Geneva. This is also convenient for those who live around Chicago as it’s only an hour and a half away.
The Ice Castles in Minnesota are located at Long Lake Regional Park, 1500 Old Highway 8, New Brighton. This is only 15 minutes north of Minneapolis.
Utah’s ice castles are in Midway at the Soldier Hollow Nordic Center, 2002 Olympic Drive, which is just outside of Salt Lake City.
What to Expect
On their website, ice castles have directions and locations of where to park which makes getting there very easy. We found the directions very easy to follow and parking was a breeze.
The cost of tickets depends on location and day so check your location for availability and pricing. But the average ranges from $11 for under 12 midweek with adults being around $20 midweek. For Friday and Saturday, the tickets increase by approximately $5.00- $7.00.
When buying tickets make sure you know when you want to go. Tickets are for a specific time slot. This is the same as when we went last year. Your time slot is only for 2 hours. Since they are keeping numbers down this year, they might ask people to leave. However, I’ll admit after 2 hours I was getting a little cold.
This year they do have some safety changes due to Covid. Tickets are for a specific time and if you miss your slot you may need to reschedule since they are trying to keep the numbers lower than in previous years.
Workers will wear face masks and guests should do the same. Please keep a 6ft distance between your party and others. There will be hand sanitizer at concession stands, entrances, and exits, and restrooms. Mats for slides will be cleaned frequently. Tunnels, crawl spaces, and slot canyons will all adhere to one-way traffic.
When my family visited last year it was a crazy evening. Like I mentioned the tickets are for a specific time slot. We weren’t sure if we would be able to get in since we arrived late.
So upon arrival, we were greeted by a staff member who was directing the cars where to park. Knowing our ticket time had passed we ‘fibbed’ and said our ticket time was coming up. We parked and went to the ticket booth to explain why we were late. Luckily for us, they were completely understanding and reticketed us for the next time slot. We were so grateful.
If you are anything like my family when you see the ice castle for the first time you will be amazed. Of course, I started taking pictures right away. The structure is constantly changing because of the lights. One minute it is bright and light and the next it is dark and colorful. It is just super fun.
After taking pictures at the entrance we walked through a tall tunnel to the center. Here we saw all sorts of structured and tunnels and fountains. It will take a few minutes for you to actually see everything and decide where to go first.
My kids couldn’t wait to get into the tunnels. Crawling along these tunnels is every kid’s dream fantasy. As an adult just know you may have to slither like a snake since the roof isn’t high at all.
Mom tip: Make sure everyone is wearing snow pants.
We couldn’t believe it when the girls found their way to a balcony above the main courtyard. It was super fun to see all the activities and fun from up above the action.
I think my kid’s favorite activity here is the ice tunnels. This is where you sit on a mat and slide down a psychedelic tunnel to music and lights flashing. It is a ton of fun and if the line wasn’t long we would have gone again.
I highly recommend going on the slide during your visit. Not only is it great fun but you will have a good laugh as well.
If you like winter, I’m sure you will really like exploring the prettiest winter towns in New England as well. We really love these towns and all their winter activities. There are so many to choose from.
If you are looking for some more adventure in New Hampshire how about a horsedrawn sleigh ride which is very close by at the Omni Resort at Mount Washington.
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Final Thoughts on Ice Castles
I don’t think it’s a surprise that my family is in love with Ice Castles. Therefore if we get up to New Hampshire this winter we might have to go again. I know the first area we are going to will be the slides. They are super fun and well worth any wait.
Have you been to any of the Ice Castles? If so let me know which one you visited and what was your favorite part.