Ice Castles: A New Addition To Your Winter Bucket List


Zach Adams

A young couple enjoys their time at the Ice Castles in Excelsior

Finding something fun to do during the winter season has just arrived on your doorstep. Excelsior, Minnesota was picked to be 1 out of the 6 locations around the country to host the beautiful ice castles. The castles are open everyday of the week except Tuesday from January 5th to February 28th. Bring your friends, family or just yourself and enjoy your time as you walk and crawl through the magnificent Ice castles.


Founded in 2011 by Brent Christensen and Ryan Davis, the idea for the “awe inspiring” ice castles was founded in the front yard of one of their lawns during the winter season. One of the founders, Christensen, attempted to build an ice cave that his daughter could play in according to their website.

Unforgettable, this will definitely be something that I hope comes back to Minnesota”

— Anders Gulbrandson

Not knowing that the creation he made would turn into a world-wide phenomenon, the so called “ice cave” started to attract nearby locals. The popularity of the ice cave he made for his daughter has grown into a much greater program that is today called the ice castles. Instead of Christensen building the caves, they now have twenty to forty ice artisans that construct the castles.


After talking with a staff member at the castles, I was in shock to find out how rigorous it is to maintain these works of art. Each castle is made completely of ice and weighs up to 25 million pounds. Each and every day the artisans grow up to 12,000 icicles that are hand sculpted into new formations. Once those freeze, the process repeats itself and new icicles are flooded with water to form ever changing creations. This hard work translates into an frozen winter ambiance that is incomparable.


As soon as I stepped foot in what seemed to be a scene out of frozen, my jaw instantly dropped. The below freezing temperatures suddenly left my body. The ominous green and blue flashing lights located around the entire ice castles reminded me of the northern lights. As I walked through tightly squeezed tunnels and tall archways, I couldn’t help to think that I was in a winter wonderland. With the help of very friendly staff members, I was easily guided throughout each pathway and arch.


On certain days throughout the week, the ice castles offer special fire performances by insphyre performance and the opportunity to meet the two enchanted princesses from disney’s Frozen.


“Unforgettable, this will definitely be something that I hope comes back to Minnesota.”said Senior Anders Gulbrandson.


Since this event takes place outside during one of the coldest times of the year, warming up while you’re in the castles isn’t the easiest thing to do. However, the event has strategically located gas fireplaces in open spots around the venue. They also provide a concession stand called “Ice Castle Sweets” with food and warm beverages such as hot chocolate and coffee.

“I visited the castles on one of the coldest days of the year, so being able to drink a steaming hot apple cider hit the spot” said sophomore Jamie Bazil.


If you plan on making an adventure out to see them, you are going to have to make sure that you leave your house early. The parking at the excelsior location can be very hectic at times especially when you go at a later time during the day. You will know when you are close by looking outside your window and see bright lights that appear to be flying out of the lake.


Overall, the experience that I shared with a couple of my friends at the ice castles will never be forgotten. There is nothing else like it in the state of Minnesota. The positives heavily outweigh mother nature and her evil plans to ruin our winters with freezing cold temperatures.