The Enchanting Ice Castles in Minnesota + Tips
Winter is one of my favorite times to explore outside. Sometimes it’s because of the great light shows thanks to all the Christmas Lights displays. But when Christmas is over, we have a whole new light show to look forward to. This winter, we checked out the new Ice Castles in Minnesota.
This activity was hosted by Ice Castles. My opinions are all my own. This post may contain affiliate links. I earn a small commission on any purchases made. You do not pay anything additional for clicking on links.
2023 Ice Castles will stay in New Brighton. Every couple of years, they switch up the locations and build new displays. Don’t worry, they keep some favorites, like the ice slides.
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The Ice Castles in Minnesota
Minnesotans are no stranger to Ice Castles. We’ve been building them since 1888. The original one was a labyrinth inside. When I was little, I remember getting to see the 1986 Ice Palace built for the Winter Carnival all lit up.
When the Ice Castles started coming back in 2011, I was thrilled to see one that we could enter. They’ve been built at the Mall of America, in Eden Prairie, Stillwater, Excelsior, and now this year it’s moved to New Brighton’s Long Lake Regional Park.
What to do at the Ice Castle in Minnesota
The Ice Castle was constructed by growing 5,000–12,000 individual icicles. Once the ice is ready, it is harvested and individually sculpted into the ice formations you see today. Once it is placed, they drench it with water, creating an ever-changing ice formation.
Inside the castle’s ice, they illuminated it with LED lights. It took them over 2 months to build and with the December warm-up, it’s taken a little longer to open, but it doesn’t disappoint.
The Ice Castle Lit Up
The major draw to the Ice Castle in Minnesota is the light show at night. This is where you can see the castle’s formations. With rotating lights everywhere, it’s hard not to love.
All around the castle you’ll find different places to explore, with tunnels and chambers. You’ll enter through a small tunnel with high ceilings. But they have built more of them inside the ice castle too.
Throughout the castle, we found different places to explore. Including a wishing pond, trellis, and an Ice Throne. They had fire pits throughout the park to warm up at.
Sliding and Tunnels
The biggest excitement for the Kids was the slides. They have a tandem giant slide where you must be 42 inches tall to ride. It’s made entirely of ice. It’s a work of art. Since they provided slides for us, I gave it a try too.
Thrill level-wise, it’s up there with some of the crazy sleddings I’ve done. But on a whole other level because you are enclosed. It had me screaming. My kids wanted to go again and again. If you arrive during daylight hours, there is no wait. At night, expect to wait about 5-20 minutes in line.
The other two slides are on the other side of the castle. They are smaller with no height restrictions. They only ask you to go down feet first. There is also an Ice Throne you need to check out.
Other Things to Know
Tickets are $15 for adults during the week (Friday-Sunday) and $11 for kids aged 4-11. On the weekends they jump up to $22 for adults and $16 for kids. They also offer a few standby tickets for each day. With the exception of the Standby tickets, you are purchasing tickets for the exact day and time you plan on going, within a 30-minute window. This guarantees the best possible experience for all guests and limits your wait times to get in.
The only downside to this method, is you have to know when you plan on being there. The 30-minute window is just for entry, it doesn’t limit you to only being there for 30 minutes. Spend as much time as you like inside. Normally people spend 30 minutes to an hour. We were there for a full hour. If you do miss your window, you will have to wait to enter until the Castles capacity allows you entry.
There is no re-entry into the ice castles.
The Ice Castles in Minnesota are really easy to find. Plug-in Long Lake Regional Park into your car’s navigation. From there, you’ll see parking attendants directing you to the correct lot. The ice castle’s main entrance is at the second lot near the pavilion.
I had the privilege of visiting the park once before during the Regional Parks Scavenger Hunt last year so I had a good lay of the land.
If the primary lot is full, they’ll have you park at the first lot. This is a good mile walk from where the castles are. Don’t worry, they have a shuttle.
Tips for your visit and how not to freeze your butt off
- The ground was covered in crushed ice and snow. It was light and full. If you are concerned about your stability, a pair of Trekking poles are great.
- Go on a colder day. It’s the best time to visit the Ice Castle. Temperatures above freezing may sound like a good thing, but actually, it causes slippery conditions. Try to plan for a day that has temperatures of 32 degrees or lower.
- Visit early in the day. If you are looking for nighttime lights, arrive around 4:30. You won’t have any lines for the slides and then can enjoy the lit-up park afterward.
- Dress Warm. Should be a no-brainer, but hats, mittens, snow pants, boots, scarves, and anything else you can think of. Even if you aren’t planning on sliding or interacting with the snow. For more on what to wear, check out my Winter Hiking Tips. I got a lot of good info in there about how to layer properly for a Minnesota Winter.
- Leave the strollers at home. As an alternative, bring a sled to get your kids around.
- Visit on a weekday. Trust me on this. Otherwise, you may be waiting a while to get in.
The Ice Castles in Minnesota encourages facemasks when social distancing is not possible. Because this is an outdoor event, use your best judgment. There are some areas where people like to congregate, you might want to wear one. I found plenty of open spaces where I was comfortable leaving it off too.
Where to Eat Nearby
The Ice Castles in Minneota have the food and drinks all outside the venue this year. After you are done exploring, take the exit path. Once outside, you’ll see two food trucks. While we were there, you could get fried chicken and freshly made brownies. Having the food outside made for better traffic flow.
Would I go back to Ice Castles in Minnesota?
I would. I thought it was a great way to enjoy a bit of winter. The entire experience lasted about an hour. We could have spent more time doing the slides again and again. Unfortunately, I was losing all feeling in my camera hand. I definitely need a working set of tech gloves! Otherwise, it was a great time. I can’t wait to see what they come up with next year! Also, don’t forget to get your ticket online before they sell out.