It’s Wisconsin’s fourth season hosting and unveiling the Ice Castle experience in Lake Geneva, at Geneva National Resort and Club. Only five states have featured an experience like this with swift slides, mazes to explore, tunnels to crawl through, and caverns to admire. Plus, the castle is lit with hundreds of thousands of LED lights, shining your way through.
The whole experience started with a father’s love for his children, wanting them to really fall in love and enjoy the majestic beauty of winter. Moving from sunny California to snowy Utah was a big change for them, so Brent Christensen set out to show his kids how magical winter could be.
He started playing around with a sprinkler system in his front yard. It drew kids in from all over the town; eventually people were driving by just to see it and take pictures. The following year a hotel in Utah asked him to build a bigger version of what he had designed in his yard. From there, the Ice Castle company was born and since 2011 has expanded from Utah to now five different locations around the United States.
The process starts with a group of about 20 ice artisans collaborating and designing the castle, which is different every year. Typically, November is when the team starts production by laying out water pipes and LED lights. Once the weather turns cold enough, the company starts “growing” icicles, harvesting them and then storing them until even colder temperatures arrive.
The team of 20 will then hand places up to 10,000 icicles every day. They connect each piece of ice to one another and follow it with a spray of water. Overnight the castle grows and continues to grow every night until it becomes the structure that stands today.
This year the castle is a bit bigger than previous years. Due to landscaping during the summer, there is now a larger space to work with, which gave the ice team the capability of expanding the experience.
New this season are sleigh ride that families can go on after their visit for an additional charge. The trail ride takes you through an illuminated forest and along the hotel’s golf course for 15 minutes. Also new this year, inside the castle will be a carving area where visitors can admire ice artisans in their element, chiseling and carving away, creating various pieces of art.
Concessions are available within the castle with hot drinks and sweet treats. Geneva National also has a restaurant that overlooks the castle. They have the outdoor dining option, too, in the igloos (plastic domes) where you can dine privately right next to the castle. Tack on candlelight snowshoeing or ice skating if you’d like to extend your experience even further.
Opens Jan. 22nd for about a month, weather permitting
Monday, Wednesday, Thursday: 4 p.m.-9 p.m.
Friday: 3 p.m.-10:30 p.m.
Saturday: 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m.
Sunday: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
General admission (age 12+) $21 M-TH and $27 F-SU, Child admission (age 4-11) $16 M-TH, $22 F-SU. Ages 3 and under are free. Parking is free.