As much as I despise winter at times, it does provide the opportunity for some pretty great things. Skiing, ice skating, and sledding are chief among them, but also more unique things like winter markets, ice bars, winter carnivals, and Ice Castles. And no, you don’t have to be royalty to get in.
This is the second year Ice Castles has come to Minnesota—the first ones were built near the Mall of America last year—this time having been constructed in Eden Prairie. And as only three other states will also see them (Utah, Vermont, and New Hampshire), I consider us pretty lucky to get them two years in a row.
As you can imagine, these are not easy things to construct. They’re built by hand, with more than 5,000 icicles grown each day to be harvested and sculpted. Once new icicles are grown they are drenched in freezing water, then, due to placement, changing temperatures, water volume, and wind, end up in a variety of formations, making the design of the castles part the work of the artist and part the work of Mother Nature. This process is repeated once or twice a day, and after about a week you’re able to create large towers, tunnels, archways, caves, caverns, and pathways. Because of this process, even though the castles will be constructed in four different cities, they really are four completely unique castles. And totally different than if you visited last year, too.
The castle opens on Jan. 9, and weather permitting will stay open until March 7. But remember these will melt, so if you notice a warm front coming through, take that as a cue to get there sooner than later.
Info: Open Sun.-Thu. 2-9 p.m., Fri. 2-10 p.m., and Sat. noon-10 p.m. Tickets are $12.95 for adults (ages 12 and older), and $8.95 for children, or $9.95 for adults, and $6.95 for children on weekdays, kids ages three and younger are free. Season passes are $25. 17970 East Miller Parkway, Eden Prairie, icecastles.com/ep