Magical Ice Castles In The U.S. And Canada
USA Travel

ice castles
Photo Credit: AJ Mellor

Do you think winter isn’t so much “cold” as it is “cool”? If you’re the type of person to truly embrace the ice and snow of winter, or perpetually have all the songs from Disney’s famous films Frozen and Frozen 2 memorized and stuck in your head like an icy audio earworm then read on, fellow travelers. Learn about the amazing ice castles.  


Ice Castles 

Ice Castles is an American company founded in 2011. This interesting enterprise is dedicated to the creation of a truly unique winter wonderland like no other. They offer visitors a must-see, inspiring, winter phenomenon.  

According to the official Ice Castles company website, Ice Castles’ primary goal “is to make people smile.” Their award-winning, frigid ice attraction is created “with hundreds of thousands of icicles” that are actually “hand-placed by professional ice artists” thus making frozen fantasies a reality. . . if only while the cold weather lasts. Touted as “winter’s most magical attraction,” each artistic ice structure is said to weigh approximately 25 million pounds. They include lovely LED lights, fountains, ice-carved slides, thrones, and tunnels.  

The people at Ice Castles have multiple seasonal locations. Each location has its own icy, individualistic features and designs. Every year since the company’s founding, Ice Castles reportedly strives to bring “fairy tales to life “for hundreds of thousands of families” all over the continent of North America.


The full story behind Ice Castles

Since the enterprise’s inception, this venture has been “dedicated to creating an experience that will live on long after the ice melts.” The company hopes that every guest who walks through their “icicle-adorned archways” finds the experience a real source of both “joy and inspiration.” Interestingly enough, after relocating from California to Utah, Brent Christensen, the founder of Ice Castles, built his first ice creation in his own front yard simply to make his six kids happy.

His original ice cave was the perfect cure for their snowy, stir-crazy cabin fever. Ah, but his cool creation was more than a hit with his own family. The neighborhood kids loved it as well.


The name

People from all over town got wind of his icy invention. Soon they were all bundling up, braving the winter weather, and coming to experience his first fun, frozen fortification. The children were soon referring to Christensen’s seasonal playground as the “ice castle.”  

The name stuck and thus all the new wintry wonderlands and today the company is known as Ice Castles. As noted on the website, even though “Ice Castles has grown significantly” since its official launching, “ our mission remains the same – to create happiness, laughter, and unforgettable winter memories.” Ice Castles has even helped adults rediscover the fun inherent in ice and snow and to remember that winter can be more than chains and snow tires, shoveling sidewalks, and salting icy walkways.  

At every location, people will discover light shows, one-of-a-kind mazes, special events, and more. Each individual construct has its own identity due to the individual local climates. Ryan Davis, a board member, once told NBC: “Mother Nature is our primary architect, and we are always amazed by what she allows us to create each season.” He added the company’s crews work hard to layout each “castle’s design so [they] can build a unique, winter experience that is fun for people of all ages.” 


Do you want to build an Ice Castle?

Photo Credit: AJ Mellor

Ice Castle reports that each ice castle is handmade entirely out of ice. It requires a team of between 20 and 40 ice artisans putting in “thousands of man-hours” to complete each construct. On a normal workday, the construction process includes creating between 5,000 and 12,000 icicles that workers then harvest by hand and individually sculpt into formation.

Once the icicles are put into place, they are soaked with water. The combination of wind, water volume, temperatures, and specific icicle placement lead to an ever-changing, amazing assortment of individual ice formations. Each of these towering castles takes two months to erect and spans an area of roughly one acre.  

The LED lights used to light the castles are frozen inside the structures. They are timed to “twinkle to music” to add “a magical ambiance” to these icy interactive sculptures. Each ice castle must be built by a natural source of water. This way, in spring the water will return to the environment to be once more used by people, plants, and wildlife.   


Locations, hours, and other info

The ice castles are open to visitors of all ages. In the US, they are usually found in Dillon, Colorado; North Woodstock, New Hampshire; New Brighton, Minnesota; Midway, Utah; and Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. There is also one in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Open dates are dependent on the local weather. In general, they open in either late December or early January and are available to the public until some time in early March. The ticket prices vary per location.

Ice Castle fans can catch a preview of what’s to come for each winter by visiting Ice Castle’s official Instagram account. Interested parties can also visit the official Ice Castles website where they can sign up for special alerts that will notify them of when a new ice castle will be opening near them.


What do visitors think?

Photo Credit: AJ Mellor

On the well-known Yelp! Customer review website several reviewers remind visitors to wear waterproof or ski pants so they will not only stay dry but go faster on the slides. Karen B. of Alberta Beach, Canada was but one of many people to recently praise the seasonal attraction. She said:

“I have to say, the Ice Castles never fail to amaze me! The gorgeous ice formations and colour-changing lights are magical! The snow Buffalo was really cool (pun totally intended), as were the rest of the ice sculptures! I really loved the ice thrones too, perfect for pics.”

She added that the ice slides were “a must-try regardless of your age. The ice tunnels and igloos are fun. She concluded that ice castles are a “fun night for all.”

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