Only a true Canadian would don four layers, 5 lb boots, a parka and a smile in order to fully embrace temperatures of minus 20 in which to explore frozen water.
And pay to do so.
So what exactly is that monstrous, cascading wall of winter that looms behind us? That would be the incredible work of the creative minds behind Utah-based Ice Castles. This is the second year for Edmonton, Alberta, the only location on the Canadian scene, an icy fortress so impressive it was acknowledged on the front page of Canadian Geographic Travel in November, 2016.
“It was like stepping onto the set of Arendelle, complete with a massive ice castle and two very frozen princesses.”
“The very first Ice Castle was built in Alpine, Utah, in the front yard of Brent Christensen. He was building an ice cave for his daughter and that is how the Ice Castle concept got started.” -ice castles.com-
Each of the castles has a weight of roughly 25,000,000 pounds made up by the growth of nearly 10,000 free-form spire icicles, many of which will absorb themselves into the 10 foot thick walls. The Edmonton castle is the effort of dozens of sculptors who began work in early December, freezing over 1 million litres of water over a span of 6,000 square meters, twice the size of last year’s event. During the day, the details shine, and as the sun sets, the entire place glows in multi colored LED illumination.
Highlights of the interior castle include the fountain, warming barrels with a stand to purchase hot chocolate and mini donuts, the ice archways, an elevated viewing area, and of course, the dual ice slides!
“Cool” Fact: The ice is blue because water absorbs every color of the spectrum except for blue. The thicker the ice, the deeper the color.
General Tips for Visiting:
- We chose a time when the sun would set. This way we could see the castle in both the daylight as well as in the luminated glow of the evening. It was perfect.
- DRESS WARM. I cannot state this strongly enough. You can fix your hair later and toques are a Canadian selfie staple.
- Buy tickets online BEFORE you go. They are less expensive and if a time slot sells out, there are no further tickets available for purchase on site. Find detailed times and prices HERE.
- No pets allowed.
- Strollers are difficult to navigate! Bring a small sled.
- For the dual ice slide, crazy carpets are provided. Not sure what a crazy carpet is? They are slippery fixtures of Canadian childhood. Just go with it.
- Lineups start based on entrance time, so if it’s particularly cold, wait for your time slot to begin before entering the line. Once you enter, you can stay as long as you wish.
- You will sign a safety waiver before entering.
- Ice castle experiences can also be found at several locations across the US including Midway, UT, Lincoln, NH, Stillwater, MN and Wisconsin Dells, WI.
Cheers and stay warm,
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