I don’t know about you, but ever since I heard that they were being built at Parks Canada Place on the Forks Historic Site, I’ve been excited to see the Ice Castles! Any trip to the Forks for the past month has involved me walking or biking past the fenced-off area, watching the castles grow as if by magic.
Finally, after much anticipation, the Ice Castles will open to the public on Friday, January 5th, and I got to have a sneak preview last night, along with my media, travel and tourism pals!
First off, let me say that it was a brisk -35°C with the wind-chill. I bundled up with thermal layers, massive cozy scarf, my favourite Hudson’s Bay toque, alpaca wool socks and some warm boots. The “floor” of the Ice Castles is made of layers of ice and ice chips – which is much like walking on coarse gravel – so good, flat-soled boots are recommended.
Just approaching the Ice Castles at night is breath-taking. I hadn’t even walked up to the entrance and was already snapping pictures of the towering ice walls, glowing with colour-changing LED lights.
As I entered, I was greeted by a couple of popular enchanted Ice Princesses. The Ice Princesses will be greeting guests on Saturdays and Sundays between 1 to 4pm, weather permitting.
The most beautiful and adorable Polar Bears and Polar Bear cubs, painted by our own amazing Kal Barteski, are dotted throughout the Castle walls and corridors.
There’s something so wonderful about watching a fire dancer with a backdrop of ice! The fire twirler last night was as funny as he was talented, keeping up a running banter as he twirled, getting the audience involved in his act. On Friday and Saturday evenings, from 7 to 10pm, there will be fire performances.
What would an Ice Castle be without ice slides? Young and old(er) alike will delight in whooshing though the icy chutes on magic carpets. So FUN!
My favourite feature was the colour-changing ice fountain. I was mesmerized as the water danced and changed colours from dark red, to purple to pale blue, accompanied by music.
I had the chance to talk to Blake, who is the Site Manager of the Ice Castles. It’s really an amazing process where icicles are made and then hand-placed in location. The icicles are then sprayed with water to make the ice-walls and other structures grow. The ice artists were able to start on building the structure at the beginning of December, working daily to grow icicles and create the astounding Narnia-esque structures.
Probably what I loved the most about the Ice Castles was how beautifully they frame two of Downtown Winnipeg’s iconic structures, the Esplanade Riel bridge and the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. Both lovely in their own right, they made a glorious backdrop to photos taken from within the Castles.
The Ice Castles will open officially on Friday, January 5, from 4 to 9pm. They will be open during the day on Saturdays from 12:00 to 10:30pm and Sundays from 12 to 8pm. They’re also open weekday evenings on Monday and Wednesday through Thursday from 4 – 9pm. They will be closed on Tuesdays. For more information, and to purchase your tickets, check out their website: www.icecastles.com/winnipeg/
Until next time,