Ice Castles attraction adds awe to winter

Visitors enjoy frozen landscapes at The Forks

A painted polar bear greets visitors to Ice Castles.

Photo by Keeley Braunstein-Black

Right from the entrance to Ice Castles, little children oohed and aahed, calling out to their parents and guardians excitedly and pointing them to a variety of gigantic walls of ice. With eyes popped wide open, they made their way to tunnels and ice walls embedded with LED lights.

“There really isn’t anything else like Ice Castles in the world,” Ryan Davis, the chief executive officer of Ice Castles, says.

The adults were not left far behind. They whipped out their mobile phones and began taking pictures of an icicle here, an enormous lighted wall there and so on.

Ice Castles is located at Parks Canada Place at The Forks National Historic Site, which is right at the heart of the city.

Despite the extremely cold temperatures earlier in the week, Davis says an overwhelming number of Winnipeggers went to tour Ice Castles.

“The response and support we have received from the Winnipeg community has been incredible,” he says. “Now that temperatures have warmed up slightly, tickets are selling out during most time slots.”

Danni Beaudry, a visitor at Ice Castles, says the new winter attraction is a good addition to skating, which is her normal winter activity.

“It’s really unique. I didn’t know what to expect, really,” she says. “I definitely could recommend being here like as the sun is setting, because you get the effect of when it’s light and then when it starts to get dark. Pretty magical.”

Ice Castles are made completely from ice. The building crew grow around 10,000 icicles daily, which they plant into the ice structure and pour water over to freeze together. According to the Ice Castles website, the walls are 10 feet thick, making them strong enough to hold tall buildings.

Another guest at Ice Castles, My Loftren, says, “I think it’s beautiful ... you would almost want to be able to touch (it), and like almost climb and do more things with this beautiful place.”

She wishes there were more activities within Ice Castles that adults could engage in, just like there were slides that mostly catered to children.

“It’s more for (you to) watch, or like you can see but not touch. I’m glad I came but maybe a little more that you can actually try different things.”

Davis mentions that the biggest challenge they have with the ice castles is always the weather. Ice Castles’ opening and closing dates are solely dependent on weather for this reason.

“We can’t control the weather, and we can’t always predict what it will do,” Davis says. “Any time you are working with natural elements, like ice, the biggest challenge is always the weather.”

Published in Volume 72, Number 15 of The Uniter (January 25, 2018)

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