With bone-chilling temps in the forecast for the foreseeable future, it’s hard to believe only a few weeks ago the Ice Castles in Excelsior were in jeopardy.
Before we plunged into polar vortex-like temps, above-average January temperatures were reaching into the mid-30s and even hitting 40, making for poor conditions in creating the towering and impressive ice castles as these sculptures are made, well, out of ice.
The ice castles are built entirely by hand, made with hundreds of thousands of icicles created from scratch by professional ice artists and then placed and sculpted onto existing ice formations. (Side note: I have now added ‘ice artist’ to my long list of potential next career options.) Creating these castles is truly an art form. It takes 20 to 40 ice artisans to design, construct, and grow the 10,000 plus icicles made each day that make up the castle. Through a combination of icicle placement, wind, water, and temperature, these artists are able to create these spectacular and magical castles.
Once the castles are complete, each ice castle will be approximately one acre in size, weigh more than 25 million pounds, and reach a height of 20 to 30 feet.
However, if the weather doesn’t cooperate and stay above freezing, the warm weather can impact the look and height of the castles resulting in a slushy and less-detailed look.
This year the ice castles were initially scheduled to open during the last week in December but the opening had to be pushed back into January because of the unusually warm temperatures.
Event Manager Ben Millard reassured in an interview, “People typically understand that there is nothing we can do about the weather, so the delay hasn’t been too difficult to handle. In fact it gives us more time to prepare everything to make sure it’s an amazing experience for everyone once we do open!”
Well, it’s freezing now — literally — and with hard work and some final touches from the ice artists, the ice castles are officially open.
And it was definitely worth the wait.
Walking through these breathtaking ice castles make it feel like you’ve stepped into an enchanted winter wonderland. Frozen inside the ice castle walls are thousands of LED lights that light up and twinkle to music. You can walk through ice canyons, crawl through ice tunnels, slide down an ice slide, sit on an ice throne, and walk under the Grand Archways that showcase beautiful icicles and ice crystals above you. There will also be photo ops with Frozen’s Elsa and Anna and amazing fire shows with fire breathing and spinning flaming hulas.
Check out their website to reserve your tickets and pick the perfect cold winter day to head out to the shores of Lake Minnetonka in Excelsior to experience these amazing and beautiful ice castles.
For once, it’s actually a good thing it’s absolutely freezing in Minnesota.
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