Minnesota Ice Castles opening date set, earliest in a decade

The Ice Castles, a popular winter attraction, is returning to New Brighton, Minnesota, this winter.  (Ice Castles / Supplied)

The Ice Castles in New Brighton will open to the public on New Year's Eve, marking the earliest opening date in a decade. 

The frozen attraction — known for its slides, tunnels and sculptures — will open at Long Lake Regional Park in New Brighton at 5 p.m. on Dec. 31. 

"This is only the second time we’ve been able to open before New Year’s Day," Ice Castles CEO Kyle Standifird said in a news release. "Mother Nature has been good to us this season, and we’re excited to welcome guests to Ice Castles over the holiday weekend."

This year's event has a new feature: an ice bar, offering a selection of adult beverages. There will also be a "re-imagined and enhanced light walk" and "fun whimsical winter characters" for guests to meet, a news release said. It takes a team of about 20 ice artists, as they're called, to build the castles by growing and harvesting icicles, which are then placed one by one to form the castle. The ice is embedded with color-changing LED lights. 

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Minnesota is one of four other Ice Castles locations. Another location is in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. There are also Ice Castles in Utah, New Hampshire and New York. Long Lake Regional Park hosted the attraction in 2022 and 2020 (2021 was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic). In past years, the attraction has also come to Eden Prairie, Stillwater and Excelsior.

Tickets for the Ice Castles are on sale on the attraction's website