Magical places and pixie dust do exist outside of the realm of Disney Imagineering. Step inside one of Brent Christensen's awe-inspiring Ice Castles and you'll believe that you've been transported to an enchanted Frozen-esque winter fairy tale. A breathtaking encounter for any child or grown-up who can belt out Let It Go by heart, the Ice Castles aren't just a Frozen fan fest.

Widely described as an experience of a lifetime, the Ice Castles are an adventure unlike any other. Immerse yourself in a fairytale world of beauty, where twinkling ice caves, tunnels, and thrilling frosted ice slides come to be in a larger-than-life display. This winter, treat your family to a trip to a magical must-see cold-weather attraction and explore these majestic frigid palaces at any one of the four locales across the country.

Where Are The Ice Castles Located?

ice castles

You can find this one-of-a-kind family-friendly attraction in four select locations across North America during the 2020-2021 winter season, each with enhanced safety measures in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Explore the Ice Castles in the following areas:

  • North Woodstock, New Hampshire
  • Dillon, Colorado
  • Midway, Utah
  • Lake Geneva, Wisconsin

Although the first ice castle location in Utah was where founder Brent Christensen developed the concept for this extraordinary wintery attraction, the ice castles in the northeast, North Woodstock/Lincoln, New Hampshire, remain a family favorite. Thanks to its close proximity to New York City and Boston, the New Hampshire Ice Castles is the coolest place to be during the winter season. The Lincoln Woodstock ice castles are also very close to popular skiing destinations such as Loon and Cannon mountains where you can brush up on your skiing or snowboarding skills.

Each Ice Castle attraction features unique color-changing LED-lit sculptures set to a musical soundtrack, various frozen thrones fit for an ice queen or king, magical ice-carved tunnels, impressive fountains, and icy slides. Yet, this awe-inspiring, must-see phenomenon will be entirely new and unique each year, with a distinctly different design that always leaves guests breathless.

How The Ice Castles Are Made Each Year

ice castles

How can they build a new attraction each year? Simple—these impressive icy structures are built out of ice—so when spring arrives, the castles melt into obscurity, leaving nothing of the magic at the end of the season, ready for a fresh start next winter.

Initially, Christensen had come up with the concept of the Ice Castles for his kids. After building an ice rink, he constructed a wooden structure frame and began using his hose to coat it with water, which would freeze into ice. Brent was even able to create slides for his children to enjoy. Later, he discovered that the frame wasn't necessary. Now each ice castle starts in the same way. They build towering icicles to serve as a giant canvas for the attraction. After a substantial amount of ice has been developed, they use water to carve out the rest of the Ice Castle's features such as slides, caves, and more.

Mother nature also has a hand in the design concept. Starting with around 5,000 icicles, the team begins building the ice up. However, natural factors such as wind, precipitation, and change in temperature also shape the Ice Castles in unique ways. This is what makes visiting the Ice Castles year after year so fun and intriguing. If you've always wanted to visit the stunning glacial caves in Iceland, but it was a little outside your budget, a trip to the Ice Castles is the next best thing.

How Long Does It Take To Visit The Ice Castles

people in coats outdoors ice castle fountain geyser

Depending on whether you have a family or not, or what you plan to accomplish at the Ice Castles can change how much time you should expect to spend there.

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, pre-purchasing an "arrival window" (half-hour time slot) was required. Once inside, you're permitted to stay as long as you wish. Typically, guests stay between 30 minutes to an hour exploring the frozen wonderland. Those with kids or who are looking to capture the perfect Instagrammable moment may find themselves staying longer while kids play on the slides or you wait for the right light.

The Ice Castles has a no re-entry policy. So once you leave, you may not re-enter again (unless you purchased another entry slot, of course).

What To Expect Inside The Ice Castles

ice castles at night

This marvel of natural engineering also makes the perfect setting for many occasions. Couples seeking a romantic getaway will surely find love in this wintery oasis. The Ice Castles will also serve as the ideal destination for wintery engagement photoshoots, as well as a dreamy winter backdrop for a breathtakingly iconic marriage proposal that will be unforgettable.

Parents can surprise their little princess with a special Frozen birthday party celebration. An enchanting visit to "Elsa's ice palace" would be a birthday wish come true for any Frozen fan!

Before you snap a photo of your frozen fairy-tale, make sure everything is picture-perfect ready. Check out images of Ice Castles in your location for inspiration, and bring along a selfie stick, so you're better able to capture the ice castles' spectacular size. If you're pumped about the color-changing LED-lights, we suggest you plan your visit for later in the evening when it's dark.

There are a few things you should expect and plan for when visiting the Ice Castles.

It's going to be cold. In ancient times, people stored their food in sheds filled with ice to help preserve them. You're essentially walking into a larger than life icebox in the middle of winter. Towering icy walls also prevent a meaningful amount of sunlight from getting in and providing comfort, especially during the extra beautiful nighttime and sunset time slots. Dress warm, in your best winter gear, and dress for the amount of time you plan on spending inside.

Multiple slides. There are usually a couple of different ice slides to enjoy. There's a long ice slide for adults and older kids and a smaller slide for toddlers. Be prepared to wait in a line for the more exciting slide as it's a top attraction inside if you're interested in any kind of thrill.

Stunning nighttime splendor. One of the coolest things about visiting the Ice Castles is the views at night. It's just the stars and massive glowing ice structures. They don't just shine colored lights on the outside of the ice at the Ice Castles in New Hampshire. Instead, they place the lights and build ice around them. How many engineers does it take to replace a light bulb embedded in up to 20 million pounds of ice? Probably too many.

All said and done, the Ice Castles are a truly wonderful winter destination to visit this year, whether you attend the New Hampshire location or any of the other three in Colorado, Utah, or Wisconsin. You deserve to have this kind of experience at least once in life. You're sure to be blown away by the grandeur and majestic beauty found inside. As long as you remember to plan accordingly, you can accomplish all you wanted to and more inside the Ice Castles.

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