How to find your perfect ice castle

When winter hits, many people think it’s time to hide indoors. Sure, it’s cozy to curl up by the fire, but no one wants to get cabin fever. One of the best ways to get outside during the winter is to visit an ice castle. There are plenty to choose from, including some ice castles that are even indoors. You’ll find the true beauty of winter when walking through these crystallized creations. And don’t worry, most ice castles have fireplaces and hot chocolate for all you snow haters out there.

Where to find your perfect ice castle around the world
Frozen fantasies come to life at the ice castle on Lake Louise. (Photo credit: Jason Stang)

Ice Castle

Believe it or not, this ice palace has been around since the 1700s. The first icy palace was built for Anna Ivanovna, Empress of Russia at the time. The castle only lasted for the winter and the empress passed away that same year.

Since then, there have been many ice palaces built all over the world. In Canada, an ice palace is built every year for the Quebec City Winter Carnival. And if you’d like to stay overnight, these are the most beautiful ice hotels in the world where you can do just that.

Quebec Winter Carnival Ice
As you can see, Quebec’s ice palace is the real deal! (Photo credit: Audet Photo)

While the Empress of Russia’s ice palace was built by ‘gluing’ the ice together with water, the modern ice castle is often made by making thousands of icicles every day and spraying more and more water on them to make them stay in place.

These ice creations are unlike anything you’ve ever seen. In fact, the more high-tech ice castles even have fireplaces and LED lights imbedded in the walls.

LED lights totally transform Edmonton’s ice castle at night. (Photo credit: Tourism Edmonton)

Ice Castle Edmonton

One of these high-tech ice castles is found right here in Canada, in the city of Edmonton (which also sports the world’s largest indoor mall). The Edmonton ice castle is built by the company ‘Ice Castles’.

Ice Castles was founded by Brent Christensen, who built a giant ice cave in his backyard in Utah. Since then, they’ve put up frozen palaces up in 6 different cities across North America.

Edmonton’s frozen castle creation isn’t your average ice palace. It includes a throne room, waterfalls, ice mazes and other amazing icy creations. There’s even an ice slide! When dates announced, you’ll want to nab your tickets well in advance.

ice castles edmonton
Walking through Ice Castles feels like walking through another universe. (Photo credit: Tourism Edmonton)

Lake Louise Ice Palace

If you’d rather head out to the mountains, check out the Lake Louise ice sculptures. Located on the grounds of Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, its castle and sculptures are the perfect family treat.

If you want to see how these amazing creations are built, visit during the Ice Magic Festival, which is part of Banff SnowDays each January. Don’t worry if you don’t get there then, the castle and sculptures stay around all winter.

The ice sculptures at Lake Louise are made in less than 48 hours and are carved out of 300-pound blocks of ice. Artists come from across the world to try their hand in this competition. Be sure to bring your skates or rent a pair at the hotel and take a twirl through the ice castle, built directly onto Lake Louise!

Bundle up as you’ll be outdoors for a long time at this ice castle. (Photo credit: Jason Stang)

Jungfraujoch Ice Palace

Jungfraujoch Ice Palace just may be the most impressive ice palaces in the world. Known as the “Top of Europe” the Jungfraujoch is a must-see for anyone travelling through the Swiss Alps.

Visitors can take a train up the mountain to the highest train station in all of Europe. Once up there, there’s plenty to see and do. The attractions include a 360-degree view of the Swiss Alps from the Sphinx Observatory, the Snow Fun Park, a place to learn about Lindt Swiss chocolate and … the Jungfraujoch palace.

ice castle
Below the Sphinx Observatory lies the Jungfraujoch Ice Palace (Photo credit: Jungfraujoch Region)

Jungfraujoch Ice Palace is filled with enchanting ice sculptures. It also features the Alpine Sensation, a movie walkway with lights and music that connects the Sphinx Observatory.

One of the coolest attractions (literally!) set smack dab within the ice palace is the ice bar. Here, visitors can grab a frosty drink and try out some curling. Even the bar is made of ice!

Be sure to check out the weather before making the trip up to the “Top of Europe.” If it’s cloudy, the view will be covered. There’s loads of tour options to book as well.

If going on your own, there’s a few different train routes that will ultimately get you to Keline Scheidegg, where the cogwheel train departs. The train ride is part of the attraction, as you can take in several climate zones as you climb to 3454 meters. It’s the ultimate winter wonderland, trust.

Snow Castle of Kemi

Another one of Europe’s most stunning snow and ice attractions, the Snow Castle of Kemi is situated in Finland. It’s been built every year since 1996 from only snow and ice made from sea water. Within the snow castle, there’s plenty to see including intricate furnishings, ice sculptures and whimsical decorations. There’s even fairy-tale style sceneries within the corridors.

Not only can you walk through the snow castle, but there’s also an opportunity to stay overnight in the Snow Hotel. Between January and April, guests can book a room in the Snow Hotel and for the ultimate arctic experience. All rooms are completely built out of snow and ice and are kept at -5 Celsius. Fret not, you’ll get toasty warm snuggled up under arctic sleeping bags and fur blankets. 

If you can’t make it to Kemi’s snow castle in winter, SnowCastle Resort is open year-round! Within this resort, there’s an ice restaurant, where you can enjoy your food at ice tables and even get married.

Spend the night in the King Kong suite. (Photo credit: Kemi Tourism)

Quebec Winter Carnival Ice Palace

A yearly event, the Quebec Winter Carnival is on the bucket-list of many Canadians. There are plenty of events and things to see and do at the Carnival. One of the classic activities is visiting the Ice Palace.

The Quebec Winter Carnival always takes place in February and every year a frosty palace is built for Bonhomme, the Carnival ambassador. Bonhomme’s palace is where many carnival activities take place. Within the ice castle walls, visitors can se the history of the Carnival, as well as where Bonhomme hangs out.

In the evenings, the castle transforms into a snowy nightclub, complete with a DJ, pulsating lights, plus local food and drink. (Caribou isn’t just a species of deer – it’s warm tipple, too!)

Who knows, Bonhomme might even show up to check out the party! After your selfies, be sure to indulge in some maple taffy!

quebec winter carnival ice palace
Bonhomme welcomes one and all to Carnaval and to his ice palace. (Photo credit: Quebec Winter Carnival)

Have you ever visited an ice castle? Which one is your favourite?



You also may enjoy reading:

Ice Magic at Lake Louise

8 Ways to make the most of the Quebec Winter Carnival


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