Chances are that as winter arrives you’ll spot colorful winter wonderland photos straight out of a fairy tale come across your social media feed. These magical twinkling castles built of ice are Ice Castles imagined and created by Brent Christensen. In 2022 these magical Ice Castles can be found in five locations — Utah, Minnesota, Wisconsin, New Hampshire and New York.
There are so many fun ways to enjoy winter weather. You can book a ski trip. Or head to a local snow tubing hill. But if you’d like a truly magical winter experience, head to one of the US Ice Castles. Every Ice Castle is different and the locations change from year to year. Sadly, the Colorado Ice Castles are on a hiatus for this winter. Read on for more in our essential guide to visiting Ice Castles in 2022.
The date that each Ice Castle location opens each winter is weather dependent. The Castles remain open as long as the weather is cold enough, typically until mid-February to early March. Check IceCastles.com website for updates and specific dates.
While each castle has a unique design, all of them will have key features that visitors can expect to enjoy, including ice slides, tunnels, caverns, crawl spaces, archways and even thrones. This winter all locations will also offer concessions, merchandise and souvenir photography.
How are the Ice Castles Built?
Though these castles seem like something that Elsa may have magically conjured, they are actually built from icicles on approximately one acre of space outdoors in cold climates. Crews “grow” and then “harvest” the icicles. The icicles are placed throughout the Ice Castle and eventually become a part of the one structure. The castle and caverns have a blue glow, except where shimmering LED lights change the color.
Tips for Visiting Ice Castles
1. Plan and purchase tickets early.
The longevity of the Ice Castles is weather dependent. Thus planning your visit and purchasing tickets early is important. Tickets are for a half hour time slot. You need to arrive during this time slot and stay as long as you like. There is no re-entry once you leave. We typically spend about an hour or so of fun at the Colorado Ice Castle before calling it a night.
We like to book a 4:30 – 5:30 p.m. time slot to catch the sunset and the shimmery ice lights as day turns to dusk. It is a bit warmer than after sunset too. But on the weekends there are shows such as fire performances during later time frames. The castles are less busy during the week, and the ticket prices are a bit lower.
2. Dress warmly.
The more warmly you dress, the longer you will be able to enjoy the Ice Castles. Once you enter you can stay until close. But realistically your visit will probably be around an hour or so. Wear snow pants, gloves, hat, warm coat, scarf or neck gator, warm socks and snow boots with good grip. You will be walking or running on snow, or sliding on ice for the duration of your visit. Kids in particular will want snow pants to stay warm while sledding on their bottoms on the ice slides. For more ideas on proper dress see our ski packing guide
3. Bring a camera.
A cell phone with a good camera works fine though a better camera may capture the magical light. You will want to capture the wintry beauty of these castles. But don’t forget to have fun while you are busy capturing the moment on camera. Our kids barely slowed down enough to snap a photo.
Ice Castles in Minnesota
Located in Long Lake Regional Park, in New Brighton, the Minnesota Ice Castles will debut ice sculpture gardens this winter that will feature a variety of world-class ice carvings. The sculpture gardens are included with Ice Castle admission.
Be sure to wander the Mystic Light Grove Trail that connects the sculpture garden to the ice castle.
Ice Castles in New Hampshire
Returning to North Woodstock, the New Hampshire Ice Castles offer horse-drawn sleigh rides that guests can add on to their ticket purchase.
This winter will debut ice sculpture gardens this winter featuring a variety of world-class ice carvings created by ice artists. The sculpture gardens are included with Ice Castles admission.
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Mystic Forest Light Walk and a snow tubing hill that will both return this season for the second year.
Be sure to check out these tips for visiting the New Hampshire Ice Castles!
Ice Castles in New York
The Ice Castles will debut a new location this winter at Charles R. Wood Park in Lake George, New York.
There will be no shortage of fun winter activities in the area as this winter is also the 60th anniversary of the Lake George Winter Carnival.
Ice Castles in Utah
The Ice Castes in Midway, Utah are changing locations this winter from the Homestead Resort in Midway to Soldier Hollow Nordic Center. In addition guests can add on horse-drawn sleigh rides to their ticket purchase.
Ice Castles in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin
Located in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, these Ice Castles are adjacent to Destination Geneva National, a resort with a variety of lodging accommodations and other amenities. This makes it an ideal tourist attraction.
This winter the attraction will also offer horse-drawn sleigh rides that guests can add on to their Ice Castles ticket purchase.
And, there are plenty of other fun winter activities located on the property such as ice skating and sledding.
Have you visited one of the Ice Castles or experienced anything similar? Please share your experience with us below!