UPDATE: For 2017 Ice Castles is moving to Stillwater, MN. Stay tuned for more info!
Not every place is lucky enough to have snow in the winter. Even fewer places have the conditions to host an ice castle. So when I had the chance to take our family to the Ice Castles Eden Prairie, I of course was super excited. We had such a mild start to winter that I wasn’t quite sure if the Ice Castle would happen or not. It is now here and officially opened up this weekend on Saturday Jan 23rd. They are hoping it will be open into March, but that depends on our slightly unpredictable weather.
Due to our schedules we decided to go today, in the daylight. I think it would be a great evening activity, especially for older kids or even a date night. There are two slides and our girls tried the slide that goes through a tunnel and you sit on a sled. We saw a lot of smiley kids laughing as they came out of the slide. A smaller slide is also available and that one does not go inside the ice, however it is still made of ice.
Visitors can expect a completely unique kind of ice structure—different than traditional ice palaces that are constructed of blocks. Instead the Ice Castle begins construction with the placement of a single icicle that gets watered and molded to other icicles until the massive structure takes shape. What results are organic formations similar to those found in nature, like waterfalls, glaciers and ice caves. With the help of a team of 10-20 ice artists, the ice is fashioned into towers, archways, tunnels, slot canyons, stalactites, slides and thrones.
One of the most popular features of the Ice Castle is the evening light show. Thousands of LED lights embedded in the ice coordinate with stirring instrumental music to transport guests into a fantastical wonderland. Visitors can also enjoy squeezing, squishing and crawling through parts of the stunning, Narnia-like display.
A few suggestions from my family to all of you that have yet to experience this magical place:
- Wear winter boots or hiking shoes. We saw a few people that were expecting different conditions and wore other foot wear. They wished they hadn’t. It was cold enough to not be slushy when we went, but the snow was not packed and winter boots or hiking footwear are quite helpful to get around and keep your feet warm.
- If you have younger kids, I would suggest either wearing them on you if you have an infant, or some families brought toddler sleds and pulled toddlers around. The website says strollers are not allowed, and understandably it would be difficult to get around in there with one.
- Check out the schedule as there are plans to have entertainment, including princesses as well as fire performances.
- The only restrooms are the port a potty kind, so be aware of that in advance.
- It will save time and is slightly cheaper if you purchase tickets in advance.
- Dress warm, have fun, take photos and look around 🙂
Ice Castles are the brainchild of Utah-based ice artist Brent Christensen, who invented the process used to create Ice Castles in his backyard in 2008 while making an ice cave for his young daughter. This winter, his stunning creations will be found in Eden Prairie, MN; Lincoln, NH; Midway, UT; and Edmonton, Alberta.
“All of our Ice Castles share the same ingredients and process for construction,” said Christensen. “But what’s so cool is that each castle is unique because of Mother Nature’s role in constantly melting, freezing and reshaping the ice. Even within each location, every day provides a new experience.”
Reader Giveaway: One lucky Thrifty Minnesota reader will win codes for 4 free tickets to Ice Castles Eden Prairie. To enter, just complete the form below by 11:59pm ET on 2/8/16. Good luck!