Justine Amodeo 2017-12-06 05:01:11
A one-day, off-the-grid experience near Montage Hotels & Resorts. Brent Christensen, a Utah-based ice architect, had a thought when he began building an elaborate igloo with blocks of ice and a garden hose for his young daughter in his Alpine yard in 2008: Why not accelerate the growth by adding more snow and ice, fuse icicles and create a massive fairy tale-like castle handmade entirely of ice and bring it into public spaces where the weather is cold enough to keep it frozen? To the delight of couples looking for romance, families looking for unique experiences and photographers looking for a muse, the following year, his company, Ice Castles LLC, brought its first large-scale ice castle to Midway’s Homestead Resort outside Heber, Utah. The enchanted forest of ice reflects the natural forms of glaciers with lofty ice towers, shimmering ice cave tunnels, narrow-slot ice canyons, roomy ice caverns and frozen thrones where, on weekends, ice princesses appear to the delight of children. Since then, Christensen and his team have built Ice Castles—which have come and gone—in a number of cold weather locations and currently exist in Utah, New Hampshire, Colorado and Minnesota, as well as Winnipeg and Edmonton, both in Canada. Hundreds of thousands of visitors have viewed, slid upon and crawled through the surreal space, which, on certain days, creates what Christensen refers to as “an interactive art exhibit”—a collage of sky, clouds, ice and a platform for light from both the moon and the Milky Way. “We set a stage for Mother Nature to create an amazing space where people can experience something they can’t otherwise, unless they are actually inside a glacier,” Christensen says. “It’s a constantly evolving experience as it melts and then we add back ice. After a warm spell, the ice will have more of a white ceramic texture as opposed to a cold spell when it appears more like crystal.” In order to maintain the 10-inch-thick walls of ice, which weigh 25,000 pounds, the Ice Castle crew grows thousands of icicles every day, placing them throughout the castle to provide something for the water to freeze to. Over time, the icicles just get absorbed into the ice structure. During the day, the icicles appear icy blue as they glisten in the sunlight and, at night, they glow in magenta, blue and yellow technicolor from the thousands of LED lights embedded in the ice. BUILDING A CASTLE OF ICE Visitors often wonder how the ice castles are created. “We start by ‘growing’ more than 5,000 icicles each day that we harvest and sculpt together,” Christensen says. Newly placed icicles are then drenched in freezing water, he explains, and the blend of icicle placement, changing temperatures, water volume and wind result in an astonishing variety of ice formations. “And so all of the beauty you see at the ice castle is a unique blend of an artistic eye and Mother Nature’s work,” he says. The process is repeated once or twice a day, depending on temperatures, and after about a few weeks of growth, “we can create very large towers, tunnels, archways, caves, caverns and safe pathways for pedestrian exploration,” Christensen explains. “Continued development of the structures throughout the winter results in an evolving ice masterpiece,” he says. “Odds are, that if you come to visit one of our ice castles more than once, you’ll have two very different experiences.” Midway’s Ice Castle, which returns to the Homestead Resort’s driving rage for the second year in a row and is a 30-minute drive from Montage Deer Valley, will be open to the public in late December through late February 2018, weather permitting. Hours are 4-9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 4-10:30 p.m. Fridays and 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Saturdays. Tickets can be purchased on-site, and to make sure there are spots, in advance at icecastles.com. TIPS FOR A GREAT EXPERIENCE WEAR BOOTS: The walking surface inside of the Ice Castles is made of crushed ice, so walking in boots is definitely best. BUY TICKETS EARLY: When you buy a ticket, you choose an arrival time and you must arrive within your 30-minute time window. Once you are inside the castle you can stay as long as you’d like. TAKE PHOTOS: Photos are encouraged (post them online with #icecastles), but leave photography equipment such as tripods and lights at home (it’s slippery). For information about commercial or specialized photo sessions, send an email to info@ icecastles.wpengine.com. SLEDS ARE BETTER: Bring a small sled to pull children instead of using a stroller. It’s difficult to push the stroller through the castle (like trying to push a stroller through a sandy beach). FIRE PERFORMANCES: Enjoy a high-energy fire show before entering the Ice Castle. This versatile and unique show uses many different techniques including fire breathing and spinning, while also incorporating hula and more, on Fridays and Saturdays from 5:30- 8:30 p.m.
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