Though holiday light shows and entertainment displays have all but wrapped up in Colorado, one winter wonderland continues to thrive. The Ice Castles in Dillon, Colo., continue to bring in droves of couples, families and singles in the mood for a romantic evening to take in some of the most elaborate snow and ice displays in the state.
After a hiatus of a few years, the Ice Castles made their return to Colorado in late 2017 and have enjoyed a successful return. The acre-sized castles are made up of hundreds of thousands of icicles - a production of 10,000 icicles per day create the structure - with walls that are about 10-feet thick. Each of the castles weighs about 25 million pounds and are the product of about 4,000 work-hours in which builders shape and place the icicles alongside color-changing LED lights at Dillon Town Park.
“It’s awesome,” said site manager Jesse Stone about creating the Ice Castles. “Any kid who grew up building snow forts - this is a dream come true. You don’t ever think of the cold when you are building something so awesome.”
Equally, those who visit the Ice Castles hardly notice the cold amidst the bright and lively visuals on display through the ice.
“It’s the hottest ticket in town,” said Kristen Montenegro, who made the trip from Lafayette to visit the castles with her boyfriend. “People in my neighborhood have been talking about (the Ice Castles) for weeks, but to finally come and see it, it’s really remarkable.”
The first of the Ice Castles was built in Alpine, Utah when founder Brent Christensen sprayed water over a wood frame to enhance the ice cave he was building with his daughter. She named the structure, “ice castles” and the name has stuck. Now the traveling exhibit has made its way to Minnesota, Canada, New Hampshire and New Zealand.
Big win for Dillon
Not only are the castles a draw for Colorado, but they also serve as a draw for Dillon.
“There’s a lot to do here,” said John Matters, a resident of Dillon since 2003. “I’ve seen this mountain town expand quite a bit over the last decade and the opening of the Ice Castles definitely gives people something to come here for.”
Aside from being minutes from some of Colorado’s most frequented slopes, Dillon also offers a slew of outdoor activities including skating, sleigh rides, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, snow kite boarding and ice fishing. The city also boasts the traditional mountain fare of craft breweries and hearty, authentic eateries.
“I love that the castles are here,” Matters added. “I believe it makes us more of a destination and that’s a great thing because our town has a lot to offer.”
Bring the kids
“It’s family-friendly,” said Paulina Leutwyler, who visited the Ice Castles on opening weekend with her husband and three children. “They had a lot of ice slides and sledding areas inside the ice castle. They also had a lot of igloos that only kids could crawl through and get around, so it was fun for the kids to go exploring.”
Leutwyler recommended visiting the Ice Castles in the early evening to get a chance to see them as day falls into night.
“They have it very well lit so even before it gets dark, towards sunset, you can see it naturally turn on,” she said. “It made it look a little bit more magical, kind of like a Frozen castle.”
Those who visit on Friday and Saturday, will also have an opportunity to watch the fire performances, featuring fire breathing, spinning, hula and other fire-related props.
“It almost seemed tribal,” said Leutwyler of the fire show. “They did the whole breathing fire and dancing with fire sticks, kind of like what you would see when you go to Hawaii. They definitely nailed that fire and ice combination.”
For tickets and more information including tips for a great experience, pricing and where to park visit www.icecastles.com.