Are ice palaces the new pumpkin patches?

It happens like clockwork: as soon as Thanksgiving is over, or if it’s over truly Excited, Halloween – most people automatically go into full winter holiday mode. They decorate their halls with holly branches (and then some). They took out their Dreidel for a few practice rounds before Hanukkah started. They sifted through rows of Douglas Firs and White Spruces to find the perfect Christmas tree. And who knows? Maybe they’ll swing by the mall to take a selfie with Santa. Then January comes and the party is over, but the cold season continues for another two months.

The only solution to avoid winter blues is to prepare for the cold season with everything it brings Frozen Glory. Just as fall has photo-ready seasonal activities like apple picking and pumpkin patches, winter has its own fun time: ice palaces.

Unlike decorating a Christmas tree, ice palaces can be enjoyed all season long. Although it is Close On the snow, these positions don’t require the athletic acumen that skiing, snowboarding, or snowboarding does. (Translation: Ice Palace’s everyone.) Plus, in the age of Instagram and TikTok, a seasonal outing has become a photo opportunity.

A person standing in a large ice cave

Structure of ice castles

Brian Rowland

These engineering marvels aren’t just a response to the age of TikTok and Instagram; The first Saranac Lake Winter Carnival Ice Palace in upstate New York was constructed in 1898, and is still manufactured for the carnival, from blocks of ice from the frozen lake. (This winter carnival takes place from February 2 to 11 and ends with fireworks over the Ice Palace.)

But the appeal of ice castles seems to be growing as they appear all over the country. The owners of Ice Palace — a family-owned and operated business with locations in Minnesota and Idaho — feel its appeal is too simple. “We really want families to continue to spend time in the beautiful outdoors even in the winter,” says Kiera Martin, CEO of Ice Palace, who runs the company with her five siblings.

Since its founding in 2018, the Ice Palace has been making refrigerated castles that can be as big as a football field, depending on the location. The secret, according to Martin, lies in her patented method for creating ice columns that form the base of the structure.

“After the basic structure is built, we then use a very large, complex sprinkler system to spray at cooler times of the day and continue construction throughout the season,” she explains. “As the ice grows, it becomes stronger, stronger and more resilient to warmer temperatures.”

The entire icy structure is a feat in itself — Martin says the palaces have no non-icy reinforcements — but the decorative details and extensive tunnels provide an attractive finishing touch. “You definitely feel like you’ve entered another world when you walk through the Ice Palace,” Martin adds. “Beautiful little intricacies are Mother Nature at work: Some of the icy formations created by Mother Nature look like flowers, mushrooms or leaves.” This year, the Ice Palace will open on an as-yet-unspecified day in December.

Ice slide in ice castles

AJ Mellor for Ice Castles

Meanwhile, Ice Castles — another palace resource with six locations from Colorado to New Hampshire — boasts a host of special features like slides, crawl tunnels and a Polar Pub to enjoy a cold drink. Similar to pumpkin patches, these winter wonderlands offer plenty to do besides wander through these icy dwellings. (For example, the Ice Palace also offers sleigh rides, character meet-and-greets, and “mini sugar mousse cakes.”)

But while ice palaces are certainly on the rise — Martin shared 70,000 guests visited her family’s sites last year — she says the trend won’t be an overnight sensation.

“This involves a patented construction method, which is a very difficult task,” she says. “They may not appear as quickly as pumpkin patches, but we love the idea and are committed to growing it! Our goal is to continue building ice palaces in cities with cold temperatures across the United States.”

A nation full of ice castles? Now that’s cool.

Headshot of Kelsey Mulvey

Kelsey Mulvey is a freelance lifestyle journalist covering shopping and deals Good housekeeping, Women’s healthAnd Elle Decor, among other things. Her hobbies include themed spinning classes, Netflix, and nachos.

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