Get your tiara and goblet ready, because living out one of your favorite fairy tales has never been more attainable. Ice castles don't solely exist in storybooks and your wildest daydreams. The reality is, you can actually channel Elsa from Frozen in real life by visiting the ice castle in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. (Seriously though, don't be surprised if Prince Charming himself rolls up on a snowboard to greet you.)
Sure, relaxing at the beach or roasting s'mores by the fireplace is fun, but if you're a millennial who seeks out unique experiences when you explore a new place, I can tell you first-hand that visiting an ice castle truly fits the bill. (I mean, how many of your friends can say they did that?) Traveling to bucket list destinations can add up quickly, so when you pack up your carry-on and jet off into the clouds, you want to be prepared with an itinerary that reflects getting the most bang for your buck and experiencing as much of the local culture as possible.
I was invited by Travel Alberta to explore Edmonton's magical ice castle for myself, and the experience did not disappoint my wallet or my curiosity. Prior to my visit, I wondered what an actual ice castle would be all about. The only reference I had to one is Elsa's from Frozen. Needless to say, I didn't really know what to expect besides bundling up in my warmest jacket and being surrounded by a ton of ice towering above me.
I settled for my powder pink sweater and matching beanie (because the Instagram opportunities are endless).
When I arrived, I walked to the entrance in complete and utter awe of the frozen fortress that stood before me. I felt so tiny, and couldn't wait to see what would be waiting for me beyond the shiny tunnel.
According to the Ice Castles’ website, this breathtaking site can be viewed in six different cities throughout North America, including: Dillon, Colorado; Edmonton, Alberta, Canada; Excelsior, Minnesota; Lake Geneva, Wisconsin; Midway, Utah; and New Hampshire. The website also states that each castle is constructed with thousands of icicles, which are placed to perfection by professional ice artists.
One of the signs at the entrance of the castle stated that it's made out of 100 percent ice (sans any inner structures), and every tower is 10 to 20 feet deep. The sign also stated that the castle usually takes eight to 10 weeks to come to life. The Edmonton ice castle was the first one constructed outside of the U.S., and was actually the most visited out of the bunch, according to another one of the signs.
If you're worrying about an icicle falling on you (like I was), don't get your mittens in a tangle. One of the signs read that the icicles at the castle are all connected to ice. So, there's no separate material, like a roof, that would cause the icicle to heat up, melt, and fall.
Once I made it through the first tunnel, I realized there was no top to the castle, just the warm sunshine reflecting off of the glistening ice. The majority of the castle was a maze. (Picture a corn maze, but much cooler — literally — and made entirely of ice.)
The tunnels were carved out of ice, and the slides, fountains, and throne served as perfect backdrops to strike a regal pose for the ‘Gram. Various sculptures lit up in colorful LED lighting once nighttime rolled around, to complete the *chillingly* beautiful castle experience.
You may be wondering why the ice appears so blue. According to one of the signs at the entrance of the frozen attraction, the human eye sees blue light reflecting off of the ice because of the "high density of the ice."
You’re free to explore the intricate pathways and tunnels at your own pace, and snap pics whenever your inner princess finds it necessary. There was even an ice throne, complete with a faux fur blanket, which I, of course, was drawn to sit on for the ultimate 'Gram.
According to Explore Edmonton, this season marked the fourth time the ice castle made a magical appearance in Canada. If I've convinced you to see this incredible site for yourself, pricing varies depending on the time of the week you plan on visiting, and tickets can be purchased at the ticket booth on-site. General admission is $17/$20 for those who are 12 and up, and $13/$15 for kids who are four to 11. You can spend as much time as your nostalgia-filled heart desires in the castle, but re-entry is not allowed.
Edmonton's acre-size ice castle was open from Jan. 4 through March 16, 2019. Although the six ice castle locations are now closed for this season, you should absolutely add this sparkling experience to your bucket list for next year. (According to Travel Alberta's website, the Edmonton ice castle usually opens in late December, although the dates for 2020 have not yet been announced.) It'll be a perfect chapter to carve out in your very own fairy tale.