It has returned! Ice Castles is back in Stillwater, Minnesota now in 2018 and opens Friday, January 5th! We visited during a media preview to share with you all there is and what to expect!
I’ve shared our experiences at Ice Castles since 2015 when they came to Minnesota at Eden Prairie’s Miller Park for the first time. (Previously they were at the Mall of America one time in 2013.) It’s been a beautiful and cold experience every year, and this year is no different! The temps in Minnesota have been record-breaking lows lately but I heard they would go above zero (!) for opening weekend of Ice Castles. I sure hope so as we haven’t been able to handle the cold very long each year when visiting and a warm-up would give some relief!
Ice Castles has been a project of California-native Brent Christensen and his team for years. It’s really been popular here in Minnesota where ice kind of, well, thrives. We’ve loved what they’ve done with it – it’s fun to walk through it and visit with kids. It’s a good date destination. Just dress WARM!
This year it’s in Stillwater by the St. Croix River for the second year in a row. The layout is very much the same as last year, but breathtaking still with many photo opportunities.
And yes. There’s HEAT. Fire pits. Though it doesn’t do much for your toes – my feet were the coldest part of me, probably from walking through thick mounds of ice everywhere. I wish I had worn warmer socks.
Ice Castles Sweets
Gotta love the goodies they offer – I’d say these have gotten better and better each year. Taste of Love Bakery treats are back like last year – cake pops, gingerbread men, sugar cookies with “Ice Castles 2018” in icing on top. Plus hot cocoa, hot cider, and Caribou coffee.
Here’s the menu. Be prepared to spend around $20 or more per family, easily.
The features are slightly different every year. There’s always some type of fountain. The fountain this year was not like last year where you could peek down into it. It was high with water squirting up (see in my video above).
There’s also always some type of slide or tunnel. This year there’s an enclosed slide. I get too claustrophobic in those things but people were having fun in it when we visited.
I’m very happy to see that Tiny Diva Princess Party is back with the Enchanted Frozen Sisters! They’ll be there on Saturdays and Sundays for greeting guests and photo opps.
There will also be fire performances like last year with fire breathing, spinning, hula and more.
Should you go?
Ice Castles is beautiful every year. It’s not much different year to year, but there are several reasons TO go – it’s unique, it’s visually pretty and interesting, there are princesses and fire performers, there are goodies, and great photo opportunities. It’s something to do outside in winter in Minnesota, even if just for a brief visit.
I’m personally not crazy about the prices. It adds up fast for a family. For the short amount of time most people spend here, it’s not cheap. Honestly, we spent about 15 minutes here because of the cold, and mostly walked around, took pictures, and got some goodies to go and enjoy in our warm car. But my family and I don’t handle the cold well (it IS January in Minnesota). We could have bundled up better, especially our feet and heads. But still, you’re walking through crushed ice and snow to look at pretty ice and snow. You will be cold. Thankfully though, they have fire to warm up by in a couple places, and hot beverages to buy. Helps take the edge off.
If you’ve never been to Ice Castles and it looks appealing to you, you should go at least once. If you have liked it in the past, you’ll like it this year. If you absolutely hate the cold and have to drive a long way, it may be worth a pass. Or if you have any other hesitations, wait until discounts are available and consider it then. But for the most part, I think most people do enjoy it and think it’s worth it. And Stillwater is a beautiful place to visit year-round. There are other things to do here that will make the visit worthwhile, including the indoor playplace Kids Oasis, and our favorite restaurant, Leo’s Grill & Malt Shop, both of which are nearby.
TIPS FOR VISITING
My tips are mostly the same year to year:
- The ground is all crushed ice so don’t even consider bringing a stroller.
- Bring a sled to pull the kids around!
- Be careful and dress for the weather.
- Bring your camera (preferably a regular camera and not your smartphone – it’s easier to take pictures with a real shutter button than with your bare, cold hands on a screen!).
- Bring cash for the concessions. You’ll want something here.
- Get your tickets in advance to save money AND avoid the long lines.
- Note they’re closed on Tuesdays.
- Plan some time to visit some downtown Stillwater businesses – there are many great ones for the kiddos!
General Admission is cheapest online in advance:
(12 and older):
$13.95 F-Sun and HolidaysChild (4-11)
$8.95 F-Sun and Holidays
Always buy tickets online in advance to save time and money – If you buy tickets when you arrive you’ll pay more AND have to spend more time outside in the cold, so I HIGHLY recommend getting your tickets online in advance!
UPDATED (1/18/18): I have an exclusive discount code you can use online to save $2 per ticket! The code is TCFrugal18 and you can use it to book your tickets in advance here.
Previously I posted that you can save $2 with coupon code ICECUB18 (thanks, Kristi!).
Monday, Wednesday and Thursday: 4-9pm
Read my reviews from previous years:
More info and to buy tickets:
(Disclosure: I attended a media preview to facilitate this review. All opinions are 100% mine.)