If you ever thought it'd be cool to step into the world of Disney's Frozen, I have some exciting news. The Ice Castles Exhibition may be coming to a city near you this winter!
For those of you who haven't heard about Ice Castles, it's an incredible must-see winter exhibition where you can wander around in and out of enormous structures made out of hundreds of thousands of carefully hand-placed icicles. (The Artists guesstimate that they use roughly 20 million pounds of icicles in total!)
Winter can be long and tedious if you’re not into skiing or skating, but the Ice Castles will probably make you change your mind about the cold, if only for a day.
There are currently 4 locations where you can explore this gorgeous winter wonderland:
- Lincoln, New Hampshire
- Lake Geneva, Wisconsin
- Dillon, Colorado
- Midway, Utah
Opening dates and times vary by location, as well as pricing so make sure to check out the Ice Castles website before you go.
We’ve visited the Ice Castles every single year since 2015 which not only tells you how much we absolutely love the experience but I’d venture as far as to say it’s a highlight of our winter season and it will definitely become a family tradition when we have kids.
Know Before You Go
There are a few things you should know about visiting the Ice Castles in order to maximize your experience. We’ve made note of a few tips and tricks over the years that we’d love to share with you here.
While the Ice Castles are one of the most fantastic places we’ve ever taken photos, make sure you’re dressed for the weather - including footwear. You’ll be walking around on snow and ice and for that reason, we highly recommend ice spikes/crampons or at the very least, winter boots with good traction.
We’ve witnessed numerous photoshoots on our visits where couples might be dressed in their wedding or engagement outfits and while they look fantastic, they usually don’t last very long out there!
The essentials to pack with you:
- Warm hat and gloves/mittens
- Snow pants for kids if they’re wanting to use the ice slides
- Warm winter jacket
- Boots with grip
- A camera
Extras to pack:
- Extra socks
- Ice spikes/crampons
- Heat packs for mittens
- Thermos with hot tea/coffee/hot chocolate
We are huge fans of the little hand warmers you can buy at most outdoor stores. Stuff them in your mitts and you should be able to keep your fingers pretty toasty while you wander around.
Tip for photographers: bring extra batteries. It’s happened a few times where it was so cold, our camera died after just a few shots.
Plan your trip in advance
Depending on the location, you may have to book your time slot in advance and it’s good to think about how different the experience can be in the day time vs the night.
Usually an hour is more than enough to see everything.
The benefits of going in the day time:
- It’s usually less cold and you’ll have the sunshine on your side
- If you’re going on a weekday, it can be much less busy
The benefits of going at night time:
- The castles are lit up with thousands of gorgeous, twinkling lights. It gives them a very soft, magical glow (photos for reference).
- You don’t need to worry about “bad weather” (read: the sky being too bright or too grey) ruining your photos
There’s more than just Ice Castles!
The Ice Castles are very family friendly and have much more to offer than just a beautiful photo opp. Kids absolutely love the numerous ice slides, mazes, fire pits and fountains made entirely out of ice that shoot water into the air.
Trust me when I say there’s magic around every corner!
Depending on the location, there are food stands that offer hot chocolate and other warm snacks if you’re feeling a little peckish. Or pack a hot thermos to enjoy on the ride home afterward! (They usually don’t allow outside food or drink inside the Castles, as they’d like them to remain as pristine as possible.)
Try and Go Earlier in the Season
This is an important point to note: The Ice Castles will close once the weather starts to warm up. The reason being that they are only technically safe if the weather stays below freezing. The closing date is therefore always open-ended and impossible to guess, but the Ice Engineers and Artists do keep a close eye on the weather as well as the structural integrity of the ice and won’t risk staying open past a certain temperature.
I have seen people book tickets for later in the season who have had to cancel their plans because the Ice Castles needed to close. Everyone who is unable to make it, receives a full refund, but it is definitely a disappointment for those who were looking forward to witnessing the event.
On the other end of the spectrum, watch for extreme cold weather warnings as well. I have seen Ice Castles shut down for a few days because it’s just not safe to be outside for an extended period of time, literally touching ice, in the middle of an extreme cold snap.
All that being said…
If you live near to any of the Ice Castles locations, I would highly recommend you check them out this winter! It’s a fun and totally unique experience for the entire family and we commend the team at Ice Castles for finding such a beautiful way to bring magic into people’s lives every winter.