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The magical Ice Castles are coming back to Minnesota for yet another winter extravaganza. However, this year instead of being created in Stillwater, you can find the Ice Castles in New Brighton. If you’re anywhere near there, they’re the perfect winter outing or addition to any winter getaway you’ve got planned.
With only 6 Ice Castle locations in North America, this is a truly unique attraction that will make you completely fall in love with the wonder of winter (if you haven’t fully embraced it already)
As far as winter attractions go, the Ice Castles are one of the most unique that we’ve ever seen (and we LOVE winter, so that’s saying A LOT). It’s no wonder that the Ice Castles are one of the most popular winter attractions in Minnesota.
It’s well known that in Minnesota there are HARSH winters, so locals can rejoice that Ice Castles is taking that cold and using it to it’s advantage.
When you get there you’ll notice that it’s essentially a frozen wonderland that’s part art and part playground.
Once inside, you’ll find room after room of frozen wonder. Icicles reflecting the ever changing light, and every turn seems to draw you in and make you want to explore more.
Really though, who doesn’t love playing in the snow and ice? Our entire family loves visiting Ice Castles – kids and adults included.
Crawl through ice tunnels, race up a frozen staircase, and let yourself shriek with delight as you zoom down a slide completely made of ice. Take a seat on a frozen throne, or stare in wonder at the beautiful ice sculptures.
At night, the ice is lit up by colored LED lights that make the whole Castle take on an entirely new effect. Changing colors glow through the ice, and the lights take the magic to an entirely new level.
The Ice Castles are all constructed from scratch every single year by ice artists. It takes months to grow all of the icicles, carefully place them and then grow an entire Ice Castle out of them with an elaborate sprinkler system. In the end, each Ice Castle is made up of around 20 MILLION pounds of ice.
Every year that we visit the Ice Castles with our family, we learn a little bit more to make our experience even better, so here I’m sharing all the tips and tricks you need to know for an amazing visit to the Ice Castles.
What to expect when you visit the Ice Castles
First of all, the Ice Castles aren’t quite what you would envision Elsa from Frozen building. What you will actually find is more like a roof-less fortress made out of ice. It’s made of thousands and thousands of icicles and takes months to create. Think of it more like a giant, wide, ice waterfall! The Ice Castles usually reach heights of 30 feet tall.
It will take you a minimum of an hour to really explore everything there, and it would be easy to spend 2 hours if you’ve got kids with you or want to do the slides. We typically stay until the kids are cold and leave a giant thermos full of hot cocoa in the car to share as soon as we’re done.
When is the best time to visit the Ice Castles?
The best time of day to visit the Ice Castles is about an hour before sunset. This allows you some time to see them in the daylight (which is fantastic for pictures), but also be there when it’s starting to get dark so that you can experience them in both light and dark.
Weekends at the Ice Castles can get VERY BUSY so if possible, try and go during the week.
What to wear to the Ice Castles?
When you’re heading to the Ice Castles remember to dress WARM! Remember that this is a whole castle made of ICE and SNOW and if you are going in the evening, it will be extra cold. Wear good base layers, an insulating layer like fleece and then snow pants and a coat on top. Of course, a warm hat and waterproof mittens are a must, especially with kids who will likely be touching the ice for the few hours you are are there! (Read our review of the best waterproof mittens and gloves for kids)
While many people think that snow pants are options when visiting the Ice Castles, think again. I’ve seen many people there in jeans or other regular pants, and after crawling through a few tunnels or going down the slide, they’re wet and cold.
Also, make sure that you wear snow boots to the ice castles. The floor of the ice castles is basically crushed ice and snow and it can get kind of messy. Your feet will get wet and cold so waterproof snow boots are your best footwear option. Not sure what boots are best for your kids? Read our review of the top kids snow boots.
Under your boots, wool socks are a
What do do first at the Ice Castles
As soon as you get to the Ice Castles, head for the ice slides. The lines on these get long FAST, so the sooner you can get in line the better. During the week, you may only have to wait for 5-10 minutes but the wait can be well over 30 minutes at peak times. Generally the later in the day it is, the longer the line gets, so go early.
What to bring for a visit to the Ice Castles
While your iPhone does a pretty good job on most photos, capturing the unique lighting of the ice castles will work much better if you take a good camera with you. Make sure to take a case to put it in as well, since you’ll want to race down the ice slides too and you want to make sure your nice camera is protected. I personally use the Nikon D3500 which is a great quality,
If you’ve got young kids, a sled is the best option for getting them around. I’ve seen a few parents there trying to push a stroller through the ice and snow and it looked absolutely miserable. Having a sled will be tricky on really crowded days or weekends, so this will work best on a mid-week visit. I recommend taking a sled with a back so that the kids can sit upright better and look around like these sleds.
We always take a big insulated jug full of hot chocolate and keep it in the car for as soon as we’re done. It’s a great way to warm up AND a fun way to wrap up a family outing. We absolutely love our giant jug since it keeps our cocoa warm ALL DAY and it holds enough so everyone can have seconds! Also, if you haven’t tried this Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate, you’re seriously missing out!
What dates are the Ice Castles open?
The dates of the Ice Castles are incredibly dependant on the weather. This year the Minnesota Ice Castles are planning on opening in January 2020 and will be open as long as the weather permits. Sometimes they stay open well into March and other years they close in February if it’s too warm. Read here for up to date information with Ice Castle openings. Since it’s hard to predict exactly when they’ll close, take my advice and go as early in the season as possible.
Buying Tickets to the Ice Castles
If you want the best deal on tickets to the Ice Castles, make sure to buy them online, as tickets are more expensive if you buy them at the gate.
Tickets can be purchased from the Ice Castles website.
Regular ticket prices on weekdays are $9.99 for kids and $12.99 for adults and weekend ticket prices are $17.99 for everyone.
If you purchase tickets at the gate, they are $18 on weekdays and $22 on weekends, though there it always a chance they will be sold out, so it’s best to get them in advance.
Minnesota Ice Castle Discount Code 2020
For an extra 15% off your tickets, use the online code: BringthekidstoIC to purchase tickets online.
At all Ice Castle locations, kids 0-3 are free and discounted kids rates are available for kids from 4-11.
Do I need to buy advance tickets for the Ice Castles?
During main times, tickets do sell out, so it’s smart to purchase them in advance. When you purchase your tickets, you purchase them for a specific entry time, not just the date so keep that in mind as well. Like I mentioned above, I think that the best time to visit the Ice Castles is about an hour before sunset so that you can see them both during the day and at night.