This winter’s elaborate display of thousands of icicles is coming to New Brighton’s Long Lake Regional Park.
Utah-based Ice Castles LLC is bringing back the handmade frozen experience it has showcased in other Minnesota cities over the years. Castle construction will begin this month in New Brighton and open in January, weather permitting.
“Minnesota is always predictably cold, and so we know that we can build it,” said CEO Ryan Davis from his home in Park City, Utah. “There’s honestly not very many places in the country that we can build an ice castle and have people actually come. Minnesotans just consistently come out and we see really good visit numbers every year with every location we’re at.”
Ramsey County Parks and Recreation officials will work with Ice Castles to draw tens of thousands of people from across the region to New Brighton for the Instagram-worthy outdoor attraction.
Ice Castles first came to the state in 2012-13, at the Mall of America in Bloomington. Eden Prairie hosted the event in 2016, followed by Stillwater twice — in 2017 and 2018 — and most recently Excelsior, where extreme cold in late January forced the event to temporarily close.
Creating the castles involves growing 5,000 to 12,000 icicles daily. Artists sculpt the castles out of 20 million pounds of ice. Each castle is about 20 feet high.
Ice Castles was looking at three or four locations across the metro area this year after finding that the parking lot at the Excelsior site was too small, Davis said. The list was narrowed to Long Lake and Lake Elmo after company officials decided against Stillwater despite city approval of a contract last month. Davis said that there were concerns of potential St. Croix River flooding and that the site was too narrow, among other issues.
Ultimately the company decided to bring the winter wonderland — and its multimillion-dollar economic impact — to the north metro.
This year’s castles will have Long Lake as the backdrop, about 20 miles north of the Twin Cities. The frozen event will feature LED-lit sculptures twinkling to music, thrones, ice-carved tunnels, slides, mazes and fountains.
“It’s really more of a bucket-list type of draw,” Davis said. “It’s extremely beautiful, out of a totally natural material ... water.”
Kim Hyatt • 612-673-4751