Brent Christensen, a Utah-based ice architect, had a thought when he began building an elaborate igloo with blocks of ice and a garden hose for his young daughter in his Alpine yard in 2008: Why not accelerate the growth by adding more snow and ice, fuse icicles and create a massive fairy tale-like castle handmade entirely of ice and bring it into public spaces where the weather is cold enough to keep it frozen?
To the delight of couples looking for romance, families looking for unique experiences and photographers looking for a muse, the following year, his company, Ice Castles LLC, brought its first large-scale ice castle to Midway’s Homestead Resort outside Heber, Utah. The enchanted forest of ice reflects the natural forms of glaciers with lofty ice towers, shimmering ice cave tunnels, narrow-slot ice canyons, roomy ice caverns and frozen thrones where, on weekends, ice princesses appear to the delight of children.
Since then, Christensen and his team have built Ice Castles—which have come and gone—in a number of cold weather locations and currently exist in Utah, New Hampshire, Colorado and Minnesota, as well as Winnipeg and Edmonton, both in Canada.
Hundreds of thousands of visitors have viewed, slid upon and crawled through the surreal space, which, on certain days, creates what Christensen refers to as “an interactive art exhibit”—a collage of sky, clouds, ice and a platform for light from both the moon and the Milky Way.
Ice Cave Slot Machine
“We set a stage for Mother Nature to create an amazing space where people can experience something they can’t otherwise, unless they are actually inside a glacier,” Christensen says. “It’s a constantly evolving experience as it melts and then we add back ice. After a warm spell, the ice will have more of a white ceramic texture as opposed to a cold spell when it appears more like crystal.”
In order to maintain the 10-inch-thick walls of ice, which weigh 25,000 pounds, the Ice Castle crew grows thousands of icicles every day, placing them throughout the castle to provide something for the water to freeze to. Over time, the icicles just get absorbed into the ice structure. During the day, the icicles appear icy blue as they glisten in the sunlight and, at night, they glow in magenta, blue and yellow technicolor from the thousands of LED lights embedded in the ice.
Building a Castle of Ice
Ice Caves Location
Ice Castles is an award-winning frozen attraction located in four cities across North America. The experience is built using hundreds of thousands of icicles hand-placed by professional ice artists. The castles include breathtaking LED-lit sculptures, frozen thrones, ice. Ice Golems are constructs raised by powerful sorcery. The creation of Ice Golems dates back to times no mortal can remember. Golems follow simple tasks, given to them by their masters. Often, they are ordered to protect some place or item and they are still bound to this duty even when their masters are already dead for a long time. Ice cave, cavity in ice or an underground cave that has permanent ice deposits. The two types of ice cave are wholly unrelated. The first type of ice cave is formed by meltwater streams carving labyrinths in the bases of glaciers or by streams and wind hollowing out tunnels in snowfields. Ice Castles is an awe-inspiring, must-see winter phenomenon that brings fairy tales to life. Escape into a world of ice caves, frozen waterfalls, and maze-like tunnels. Race down ice slides, squeeze through slot canyons and discover magic around every icy corner. Ice Flowers are a power-up item in the Mario franchise. When obtained, Mario becomes Ice Mario and can throw out Ice Balls from his hands that can freeze many enemies during gameplay. Ice Flowers first appeared as a Bros. Item in Mario & Luigi: Partners in Time, and later in New Super Mario Bros. Wii and New Super Mario Bros. U, along with other games in the franchise where it has the same.
Visitors often wonder how the ice castles are created. “We start by ‘growing’ more than 5,000 icicles each day that we harvest and sculpt together,” Christensen says. Newly placed icicles are then drenched in freezing water, he explains, and the blend of icicle placement, changing temperatures, water volume and wind result in an astonishing variety of ice formations. “And so all of the beauty you see at the ice castle is a unique blend of an artistic eye and Mother Nature’s work,” he says.
The process is repeated once or twice a day, depending on temperatures, and after about a few weeks of growth, “we can create very large towers, tunnels, archways, caves, caverns and safe pathways for pedestrian exploration,” Christensen explains.
“Continued development of the structures throughout the winter results in an evolving ice masterpiece,” he says. “Odds are, that if you come to visit one of our ice castles more than once, you’ll have two very different experiences.”
Midway’s Ice Castle, which returns to the Homestead Resort’s driving rage for the second year in a row and is a 30-minute drive from Montage Deer Valley, will be open to the public through late February 2018, weather permitting. Hours are 4-9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 4-10:30 p.m. Fridays and 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Saturdays. Tickets can be purchased on-site, and to make sure there are spots, in advance at icecastles.com.
Tips for a Great Experience
Wear Boots: The walking surface inside of the Ice Castles is made of crushed ice, so walking in boots is definitely best.
Buy Tickets Early: When you buy a ticket, you choose an arrival time and you must arrive within your 30-minute time window. Once you are inside the castle you can stay as long as you’d like.
Take Photos: Photos are encouraged (post them online with #icecastles), but leave photography equipment such as tripods and lights at home (it’s slippery). Retropie slot machines. For information about commercial or specialized photo sessions, send an email to [email protected]
Sleds are Better: Bring a small sled to pull children instead of using a stroller. It’s difficult to push the stroller through the castle (like trying to push a stroller through a sandy beach).
Fire Performances: Enjoy a high-energy fire show before entering the Ice Castle. This versatile and unique show uses many different techniques including fire breathing and spinning, while also incorporating hula and more, on Fridays and Saturdays from 5:30-8:30 p.m.
By Justine Amodeo
To check availability for your preferred date and time, click the link to your location below to purchase a ticket for your preferred location:
Tickets for Ice Castles should be purchased online before visiting. Due to weather dependency, dates and hours are subject to change and the best way to ensure that we are open is to buy a ticket beforehand.
A limited number of standby tickets are available on site for a higher price than online, however, we cannot guarantee tickets if we reach our max capacity.
If a time slot you would like to purchase tickets for says 'Sold Out', it really does mean we're sold out for that time slot. Guests who try to purchase standby tickets on site will either have an extremely long wait time to get in, or if we are sold out for much of the day you could be turned away.