Everything You Need to Know Before Visiting an Ice Castles Location

Updated: Feb 20

Stop! Collaborate and listen, Ice Castles are back with a brand new edition!

Okay, actually the season is almost over, so if you were planning on visiting an Ice Castles location this year you need to get there, like, last week. I should have written this post awhile ago, but hey, I had to go there first, right? I've been busy. So if you are ready to make like Elsa and Let it Go, here is everything you need to know before visiting an Ice Castle location!


  • When is the season: They generally open late December or early January and close sometime between mid February and March. More on this below

  • Hours of Operation: M-F usually 4-9 pm, Saturday usually 12-10:30 pm. But sometimes not. Confused yet? I get it. Also more on this below

  • Locations: There are a total of six Ice Castles exhibits in the US and Canada. They are located in Utah, Colorado, Wisconsin, Minnesota, New Hampshire, and Alberta


Hours of operation, season length, and a few other factors will vary based on location, so ALWAYS check the website that is specific to the location you wish to attend. For the purpose of this post I'll be talking about the Midway, Utah Ice Castles location, but most of the information and advice will apply to the other locations as well!


How Long Does the Season Run?

Well that's a loaded question. Here's the deal: it needs to be cold AF for the Ice Castles to exist, obviously. And we can't control the weather, obviously. So season length is based solely on the weather, which means the castles will open when weather permits, and then they will close when weather is no longer ideal. No one wants to be impaled by a rogue melting icicle, so yes, these Castles close before the weather even thinks of warming up. Season length will vary by location and will change year to year.


Generally speaking, the Castles open for the season sometime between late December and early January, with it ending around mid February or March. Because of all this uncertainty, tickets are usually only released one week in advance, sometimes two. So uh, yeah. Makes planning a trip too far ahead of time kinda difficult.


Sadly, it is looking as though February 22nd may be the last day the Utah location is open. That is subject to change though, so check the website!


Hours of Operation

Entrance times are typically 4 pm to 9 pm Monday through Friday and 12 pm to 10:30 pm on Saturdays. I say typically, because these hours too are subject to change based on what maintenance needs to be done to the castles. When extra maintenance is needed the castles may not open until 6 pm, even on Saturdays.


When you purchase your tickets you will notice that you are buying a 30 minute time frame. You can arrive anytime during this window to enter the castles. Once in, there is no time limit to your wanderings, you can stay until they shut her down for the night, which I would imagine is at least one hour after the last time slot.


Good To Know:

  • Parking is free! At least it is at the Utah location

  • Outside food and drink is prohibited

  • There are reasonably priced concessions with hot chocolate and sweet treats

  • No pets, only service animals

  • Bags are allowed, I had my backpack with some props in it and no one questioned it

  • There is nowhere to change, so if you want fancy pictures while in there, you'll be in your fancy outfit the whole time so plan accordingly

  • The bathroom situation is port-a-potties, so try to go before you go

  • There is no reentry once you exit

  • Kicking and breaking the icicles is not allowed, and is grounds for being asked to leave, so watch your kiddos! I get that it is hard to corral excited kids, so maybe go over some expectations you have before you get out of the car. They can have fun without being destructive


Pricing:

Pricing varies by location and by weekday verses weekend/holiday. Utah's prices are:

Weekday: $13.99 adult, $9.99 child 4-11 years, under 4 is free

Weekend/Holiday: $17.99 adult, $11.99 child 4-11 years, under 4 is free


Check Groupon, sometimes there are deals running on there. I haven't seen any this year for the Castles, but there is a Groupon for the Homestead Crater. You might as well check the crater out while you are there as well, because how cool would it be to swim in a geothermal hot spring and then immediately go and walk around an Ice Castle? Or vice versa? I may be a bit biased, and I've never been to another location, but I think Utah is the best Castles location based just off of that!


It is recommended you purchase your tickets ahead of time, not at the door. Entry will be a lot faster, and you don't want to risk getting there only to find it is sold out. That would be a major bummer and your kids will likely hate you.


When Is The Best Time To Go?

The cool thing about the Ice Castles is that pictures taken in the daytime look completely different to the ones taken at night. If you are a picture whore like I am, and you want to get pictures in both settings, I would recommend booking the 4 pm time slot, maybe even the 3 pm if you go on a Saturday, so you don't feel rushed. That should give you time to get some good day shots, and plenty of time for those night ones. Of course, if you only care about daytime pictures I would go when they very first open on a Saturday, and if you only care about night pictures arriving around 6 or later will suit you just fine.


Saturdays are of course always a mad house, so if you are able to visit on a weekday you will theoretically have a better chance at a smaller crowd. No promises on that though.


Important to know, the lights in the ice are always on, they are just more visible the darker it gets. So the second that sun starts to set the colors will be more obvious. I'm still so mad at myself for getting up to the Castles late. I didn't arrive until 5, and by then the lights were starting to stand out, which is not what I wanted. I'm extremely jealous of my roommate and her boyfriend who visited the Castles midday. As beautiful as the night time pictures are, I much prefer the daylight shots. I'll say it again, if you want daytime pictures, 4 is the latest you should be arriving. Don't be like me!

Look at my cute roomie and her BF! Notice the difference in a daytime picture verses a nighttime one... notice you can actually SEE the people! How nice. Lesson learned, I'll be on time next year.


What To Wear

Bundle up! This may come as a surprise, but walking through ice is a little cold. Wear all the layers! I couldn't imagine walking around the castles in any shoes other than snow boots. The ground in the castles is full of a weird snow/ice hybrid substance {technically it is snow that is chipped off the ice when they do maintenance at night} that feels like you are walking through really fine and deep sand. Sneakers would not fair well. Many people opt for snow pants. I just wore athletic leggings and was fine, but I had on wool socks and my ski jacket covers my bum. Maybe it's just me, but I feel like a protected bum keeps me warmer. Don't forget gloves and a beanie to complete the cozy snow bunny look!


My Secret Weapon

Hot Hands! Why anyone would visit the castles without Hot Hands in your gloves and in your boots is beyond me. You want to enjoy your time there? Get the most of the experience? Keep your kids from spending half of their time there crying because they're cold? Hot Hands. Most people are aware of the hand warmers they make, but did you know they have insoles for your shoes? Works like a charm, I was toasty as could be all 4 hours I was there.

Bonus Pro Tip:

Phones don't handle the cold very well. To prevent them shutting down prematurely keep your phone flush against your body when you aren't using it. Want to take it a step further? Bring along a portable charger! Even though my phone was fully charged before going in, I still had to plug it in. 4 hours in the cold, man. My phone honestly was a little messed up for a few hours after.


What Do You Do Once You Are There?

Walk around a take pictures, mostly. The Castles are made with a variety of open spaces and labyrinth like mazes. There are a couple of slides tucked away, tunnels and igloo hiding spots for children, and maybe some tiny or very limber adults, and even a wishing well water fountain. If you have zero interest in taking pictures you could scoot along and see everything in 30 minutes, but where is the fun in that? Stop by concessions and get yourself a hot chocolate, a churro and stand by one of the heaters and chat for a bit. The lights within the ice change colors and are mesmerizing to watch. Even if you are not as dedicated to the picture taking cause as I am, I would say you'd want to plan your visit for at least 90 minutes. When you have exhausted your stay, there is a store where you can buy Ice Castles merchandise. Given the amount of labor that goes into making these Castles, I feel like merch has got to be about they only way they make a profit, so consider buying a shirt or two.


If you have any questions while you are there, the workers are happy to answer them! It's pretty obvious who works there, they are the people who look completely unimpressed by the Castles and are usually walking around with metal prongs, breaking up any ice chunks that form on the snow floor. I asked various workers all sorts of questions and they were all happy to comply. Ask someone how they make the ice! It's pretty interesting, and they will do a way better job explaining the process than I ever will. There is also a sign by the entrance that explains the process if talking to strangers isn't your thing.


Midway, Utah

Did you know the Ice Castles were first started here in Utah? How cool is that?! We're number one! We're number one! Today the Utah location is at the Homestead Resort in Midway, Utah. If you've never been to the Homestead Crater, make an entire day out of this trip and go snorkeling in this wild natural wonder before your Ice Castle visit! If you're feeling extra fancy, book an night or two at the resort and have yourself a little mini vacay. Regardless of how long your visit is, grab some grub at the local hot spot, Dairy Keen on your way out. Midway is a short drive to Park City, so if you're already planning a ski trip at one of the many resorts in the area, throwing in a trip to the Ice Castles is easy!


If you want to visit an Ice Castles location, get on it! Right now! The season is short and days sell out quick. So don't wait around; jump online, buy those tickets, queue up the Frozen soundtrack, and get your ice, ice baby on!










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