Sometimes you’ve gotta just embrace winter. Which is obviously what the Ice Castles brainchild and ice-artist Brent Christensen did, when he invented this process whilst experimenting with winter activities for his children in the frontyard of their Utah home.
I’ve started yet another series, (Check out #YEGweekly too) one completely dedicated to what we can do during the winter.
While I don’t usually encourage people to stay out in minus temps, you cannot miss this experience. It is truly a winter wonderland. The Ice Castles are part of the Silver Skate Festival held in Hawrelak Park from February 10-20, 2017. Check out all the events here.
If you are outside of Alberta, there are also four U.S. locations (Midway, Utah; Lincoln, New Hampshire; Stillwater, Minnesota; and Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin) that you can visit!
Who should go:
Obviously, kids will enjoy this Narnia-like winter wonderland, with tunnels and even a slide to go on, THIS is definitely your next family-friendly activity. For adults, like myself, I still channelled my inner Elsa, claiming the throne as your ice queen. Adults can have a little fun too! (as you would have seen on our Instagram Stories). That being said, we were there for a maximum of 30 minutes. However, if your kids are lining up for the slide, you could be waiting in the line for at least 20 minutes. I’d grab a coffee with a friend and let them slide it out. I can imagine it could keep them busy for an hour!
If you went last year, I would consider going again this year as the castle is apparently 50% bigger than last year.
When should you go:
I would have preferred to go closer to nightfall. This is when you can see the multi-colored LED lights glow through the ice. Maybe the best advice then is to do both – a day and night visit, OR just before sunset.
The Ice Castles remain open until March, as long as the weather is cold enough. Last year they closed mid-February because of our warm weather so who knows how long this winter-activity will be around. I’d get there fast!
Pricing & Hours:
NOTE: Children 3 and under are FREE and do not require a ticket.
Monday-Thursday 3pm-9pm. Closed Tuesday (Except during the Silver Skate Festival)
- Online Tickets: General Admission (12+): $12.95 Child (4-11): $9.95
- Standby, At-the Door-Tickets: General Admission (12+): $18 Child (4-11): $12
- Friday, 3pm-10pm
- Saturday, 12pm-10pm
- Sunday 12pm-8pm
- Online Tickets: General Admission (12+): $16.95 Child (4-11): $12.95
- Standby, At-the-Door Tickets: General Admission (12+): $20 Child (4-11): $15
Tips to make your experience better:
Their website provides a few great tips, such as:
- Wear boots! You’ll need them as the walking surface inside of the Ice Castles is made of crushed ice.
- While we on the topic, wear warm clothes too! Don’t come without being fully prepared (even on ‘warmer’ days) or you could find yourself leaving earlier just because of the cold.
- Buy tickets online before you arrive: They are cheaper, and it makes it a lot easier as they can scan the barcode straight from your phone. Your ticket will have an arrival time, and you have to arrive within your 30 minute time window. However, once you are inside the castle you can stay as long as you’d like! Buy them here.
- Photos are encouraged, so bring your camera. This is one giant photo opportunity.
- They recommend bringing a small sled to pull children instead of a stroller.
The question on my mind, the entire time we were there was “Don’t the icicles fall?”
Their website elaborates why this doesn’t happen. Icicles attached to roofs almost always fall because their connection point to the roof is inherently weak and is usually not proportional to the icicle. The icicles at the Ice Castle, however, are attached to ice and this means there is no weak point (like a roof) limiting the strength of the structure. Connection points of icicles at the Ice Castle are also proportional to the icicle. This means that the base of the icicle at the Ice Castle is the strongest, because it is the largest in mass and diameter. When Icicles at the Ice Castle melt, they melt according to the laws of nature. This means that the smallest parts of the icicle melt first and it will take more time for the ice in the center of the icicle to melt. On a warm day, the icicles will melt from the bottom up. The smallest parts of the icicles will drip and turn to slush. The slush at the end may fall in small pieces. Guests visiting on days where the temperature is sunny and above freezing will get dripped on, and occasionally small masses of slush will fall.
So that put my mind at ease!
William Hawrelak Park, Edmonton, Alberta, T6G 2A8 OR for your GPS: 9330 Groat Rd., icecastles.com/edmonton
PIN this experience:
Other posts you might like:
- You should probably warm up with a coffee afterwards at Coffee Bureau
- Or fuel up beforehand with a hearty breakfast at Cafe Linnea
- Or reward yourself with a baked good from District Cafe & Bakery
Your South African embracing Edmonton winter,