There’s something magical about a winter wonderland and a castle made of ice. And, you will definitely find magic when you visit Ice Castles in Stillwater, Minnesota. Walls made of thousands of icicles surround you in every direction. During the day, the blueish-white walls glisten in the sun. As the sun begins to set, the lights turn on to illuminate the castle in an array of colors. No matter what time of day you visit, it is a mesmerizing experience.
We visited one of the ice castles in the past when it was located outside the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota, but our most recent visit was to the castle in Stillwater. During our visit, we found several cave-like rooms to explore with ceilings of ice, tunnel ice slides, water fountains, ice chairs for photo opportunities, an ice maze, a snack booth with treats such as cookies and hot chocolate, and more. We visited on a Saturday afternoon as we wanted to see the castles during both daylight hours since our last visit many years prior was after dark. Although it was a bit crowded during our visit, we still had plenty of space to move around and room to explore.
There are currently six locations that have castles created by Ice Castles, LLC. The locations can change on a yearly basis, but as of right now, you can find ice castles in Midway, Utah; Dillon, Colorado; Stillwater, Minnesota; Winnipeg, Manitoba; Lincoln, New Hampshire; and Edmonton, Alberta.
The first ice castle was built in the front yard of the company’s founder, Brent Christensen. He set out to build an ice cave for his daughter by spraying a wood frame with water, and his daughter named the structure “Ice Castles”, and that’s where the name comes from. The next year when Brent built another ice castle, he eliminated the wood structure and the castle was made entirely out of water.
Now, to build the ice castles, crews grow around 10,000 icicles per day on structures especially built for the process. Once the icicles are formed, they are moved and attached to the ice castle. Over time, the icicles grow together to create one giant structure. On average, each castle ends up weighing around 25,000,000 pounds and is around 1 acre in size! The castles’ opening dates vary from year to year, but the past couple of years, the castle in Minnesota was open the early part of January.
Every castle offers a variety of different events and appearances throughout its run. The castle in Stillwater has appearances by the Frozen Princess sisters on Saturdays and Sundays during the day. And, on Friday and Saturday evenings, you can watch fire performances inside the castle walls. There are also a variety of special events hosted each year such as tea parties and star watching parties.
The castle is generally open evenings during the week (except for Tuesdays) and all day and into evenings on Saturdays and Sundays. For exact hours, check the Ice Castles website for the current opening times as hours and events can change, especially due to weather conditions.
Tickets can be purchased online or right at the ice castle entrance, but if you do purchase them online, you will save a bit of money. Admission prices are cheaper for children and during the weekdays, as well. When you purchase tickets to the castle, you will receive a specific entrance time depending on the crowds and you need to enter during the time window on your ticket. Once you are inside, however, you can stay as long as you would like.
Be sure to bundle up and dress warm for those chilly winter temps, and get ready for a fabulous winter wonderland!