Find yourself in a frozen wonderland of icicles, ice slides, professional ice artists and more when you visit Ice Castles throughout the US and Canada. A family travel review.
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About Ice Castles
Each winter the Ice Castles franchise picks six different places to create a large castle made out of only ice. There are interior and exterior walls, ice slides, tunnels, ice sculptures and more. In this post I’ll tell you everything you need to know about visiting the Ice Castles!
In the day, most Ice Castles have gorgeous views of the surrounding mountains and plains. At night, the Ice Castles are wired to light up and become a colorful light display straight out of a Disney movie.
Some locations hire fire dancers, ice artists or bring in Anna and Elsa fro Frozen to entertain guests. For a cool look at how Ice Castles are made, check out this time-lapse video:
There are Ice Castles in the following locations:
- Dillon, Colorado
- Hawrelak, Alberta Canada
- New Brighton, Minnesota
- Woodstock, New Hampshire
- Midway, Utah
- Lake Geneva, Wisconsin
Best Time To Visit
Obviously, the Ice Castles are only open when it’s super cold- it would be awful if they wanted to melt with people inside. So the annual opening and closing of the Ice Castles is super weather dependent.
The Ice Castles are open both during weekdays and on the weekends, from about noon to midnight, depending on which location you are visiting.
There are pros and cons to visiting during the day or ay night. During the day, there tends to be fewer people, so the lines for the slides are shorter. You can also experience more of the ambiance with fewer people, and the daytime temps are a bit warmer. You can’t see the lights, however.
At night, you can see the light display. If your location has hired fire dancers, they perform at night. However, tickets for the nighttime sell out fast, so you need to plan ahead. Also- it can get really cold at night so people don’t tend to stay as long.
The best time to visit, in my opinion, is about 45 minutes before sunset. You can spend time in the day, and get great photos at sunset, and then see the castles light up at night too. Just get tickets early- everyone loves to see the sunset at the castles.
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You must buy a timed ticket online for each person that will visit the castles. The rates are different for weekdays and weekends. When you arrive, you’ll be asked to confirm the names of the people in your party, and each person will have to sign a waiver.
There is an option to buy tickets on-site, but you will pay more, and there may not be space. I think it’s better to just purchase the tickets ahead of time on the Ice Castles website.
What To Wear
I cannot say it enough- you need to dress warm for the Ice Castles. Like, really warm. Here’s what you need:
We put the kids in these Taival Merino wool baselayers from Reima (our new favorite kids’ outdoor wear company from Finland). They were super warm, wicked away sweat, and the girls refused to take them off for 72 hours. I highly recommend them -and they are 20% off right now, plus you can get an extra 10% off when you sign up for their newsletter. I got them a size big so they can wear them for two seasons.
My husband and I wore our super old baselayers that I’ve had since college. (No, really.)
You need these to slide down the slides. It was hilarious watching people try to slide down in jeans- they would just get stuck halfway and have to try to push themselves down. Plus- so cold.
Wear the warmest one you have. It’s cold!
We also tested out the wool hats from Reima and the kids loved them because they are so warm. I love them because they come in different sizes which avoided that horrible tendency of hats to slide down kid’s faces when they are active. We tested a Sneeuw beanie and a Rinne beanie– I think I liked the Rinne better because of the flap that folds up to give extra ear protection.
I swear by Smartwool socks for warmth, and we all wore them.
You must have snow boots for the Ice Castles. The ground is like a mix between loose snow and ice, and it is ankle deep. Watching people wade through the entrance in tennis shoes makes me so sad- it’s so so so freezing. Plus, it’s super slick.
Our whole family rocked super warm boots from Keen- the HooDoo series is waterproof, and have a thermal insole to keep the sole of your foot warm. (We lasted 90 minutes at the Ice Castles!). These boots are warm up to -25 degrees Fahrenheit! check them out on the Keen website– they have kids, men’s and women’s styles.
How long can I expect to stay at Ice Castles? – I would say between 1-2 hours. It’s not super big, but if you go when it’s busy you might spend time standing in line for the slides so that would take longer.
When does Ice Castles Colorado open? – Totally weather dependent. Visit their website for info on your specific location.
What should I bring? – There aren’t bathrooms or concessions or anything at Ice Castles. Make sure to bring water and if you need a snack do that too!
We love Ice Castles and hope you will too! Make sure to visit one in your area this winter!