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.
2024 Ice Castles in Maple Grove will stay. Every couple of years, they switch up the locations around the Twin Cities and build new displays.
How are the ice castles created?
To create the stunning Ice Castles in Minnesota, professional ice artists meticulously place hundreds of thousands of icicles by hand, forming magnificent sculptures that will leave you in awe.
Each day, over 12,000 icicles are grown to ensure the castles are constantly changing and evolving. The process begins with spraying water onto metal frames, allowing the icicles to form and grow. As long as the weather remains cold, the icicles continue to grow and the ice castles take shape.
Once the desired size is achieved, the artists carefully arrange the icicles, interlocking them to create sturdy structures. LED lights are embedded within the ice, adding a magical glow to the castles both day and night.
The result is a breathtaking winter wonderland that pleases the eye and captures the imagination.
Over the years, the concept of Ice Castles in Minnesota has evolved into a winter attraction that offers a magical and enchanting experience for visitors of all ages. What started as simple ice structures has transformed into a spectacular display of ice formations, featuring magnificent archways, towers, fountains, and slides.
During the day, the ice castles showcase glacial blue colors that transform into a magical glow at night, thanks to the twinkling lights.
Visit Ice Castles in Minnesota
Location and Overview
If you’re looking for a winter wonderland experience, head to Ice Castles in Minnesota. Located at Maple Grove, this enchanting world of ice and snow
The ice castles are a sight to behold, with their magnificent archways, towering structures, and glacial blue colors that glisten in the sunlight. As you explore the ice castles, you’ll encounter fountains, slides, and crawl tunnels, all intricately crafted from ice.
At night, the castles come alive with twinkling lights, creating a truly mesmerizing experience. Whether you’re sliding down ice slides or simply taking in the beauty of the surroundings, Ice Castles in Minnesota promises to be a memorable winter adventure by the lake.
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, New Brighton, and now this year it’s moved to Maple Grove, 12500 82nd Ave N, Maple Grove, MN 55369.
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 by ice artists 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.
Inside the Ice Castle
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. Inside the castle you’ll walk through ice tunnels, find ice benches, ice carvings and fun new discoveries. Crawl Tunnels and hidden passageways are waiting to be found for people of all ages.
It is a magical winter wonderland straight out of a fairytale.
Ice Sculptures and Throne
Throughout the castle, we found different places to explore. Including a wishing pond, fountain, caverns, ice bar, 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.
Back again on special nights are the mesmerizing Fire Dancer performances. Against the backdrop of the frozen wonderland, skilled artists dance with flames. It will be the highlight of the night.
Other Things to Know
Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit Ice Castles in Minnesota is during the earlier part of the winter season when the attraction is newly opened and before any potential closures due to weather.
I recommend visiting during the week for nighttime visits. They typically have less foot traffic and more opportunity to explore.
You can also visit during the day, shortly after it opens.
Tickets for Ice Castles in Minnesota can be purchased in advance at icecastles.com. It’s highly recommended to book your tickets online to ensure availability. By purchasing in advance, you can also take advantage of any discounted prices.
If you’re planning a visit to Ice Castles in Minnesota, there are convenient parking options nearby. You can find free parking in the parking garage or across the street from Ice Castles. In addition, there’s some free parking available on the street near the attraction.
The parking garage and street parking provide easy access to Ice Castles, making it convenient for you to enjoy all the winter magic. You won’t have to worry about a long walk to the ice castles.
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 Minnesota 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.
When are the Ice Casltes in MN Open?
Ice castles open in early January or early February and run through early March. It all depends on what type of weather we are experiencing.
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 visit this must-see winter attraction! Also, don’t forget to get your ticket online before they sell out.