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Explore Edmonton: Ice Castle at Hawrelak Park

Edmonton Ice Castle Explore Edmonton

This weekend, Mike surprised me with tickets to the new Ice Castle at Hawrelak Park – Canada’s first and largest ice castle and one of just four of its kind in the world.

We’d been seeing the ice castle in the news quite a bit the last few months – and especially the last few weeks as it officially opened on Dec. 30. We’d actually been invited to the launch event earlier in December but couldn’t make it, so it had been on our radar to visit for some time.

The holidays are so busy to begin with, I didn’t think we’d get to it until later in January (it’s in Edmonton until March 2016), but then Mike surprised me with tickets!

Read on for my review and scroll to the bottom for my tips on how to have the best visit to the Ice Castle!

Ice Castle - Edmonton - Hawrelak Park - Explore Edmonton
The ice castle at Hawrelak Park.
The ice castle, which is being described a few different, magical ways – Narnia-like, a frozen fortress, beautiful, stunning, massive (all accurate descriptions) is Canada’s first and largest ice castle, and Edmonton is just one of four cities in the world to feature the incredible structure.

The ice castle was put together by a Utah-based company, which crafts everything by hand – literally the ice castle is made up of 25 million pounds of ice! I can’t even imagine that weight. 10,000 icicles were created each day during the last 2 months of construction to get the final result we saw on Saturday. Amazing!

Ice Castle - Edmonton - Hawrelak Park - Explore Edmonton
Some parts you feel like you’re in an ice cave.
It’s recommended you pre-order tickets (especially during peak times like the holidays) so Mike had bought us tickets for a 6:30 p.m. start time on Saturday.

I think you need to go to the Ice Castle at least two times – once during the day and once at night – because you’d get a completely different feel both times. Mike thought it would be cooler if we went at night, with the different colours showing up better at night.

Ice Castle - Edmonton - Hawrelak Park - Explore Edmonton
The changing colours at the Ice Castle in Hawrelak Park make it look even more magical!
It was very magical, but I’ve also seen photos from people who have gone during the day, and that looks more like what you’ve seen out of Narnia or Frozen, which is a different type of magic. Plus for us (we don’t have nice cameras) I’d much prefer taking non-flash, naturally-lit photos during the day.

Ice Castle - Edmonton - Hawrelak Park - Explore Edmonton
So many cool photos featuring the Ice Castle – I need to go back during the day too! Beautiful.
Some people are even getting wedding photos done at the Ice Castle!

If you’re engaged or getting married in the next few months, you must get some photos taken at this once-in-a-lifetime location. Hell, I’d even arrange for just a fun family photoshoot at the Ice Castle, it looks so cool.

Ice Castle - Edmonton - Hawrelak Park - Explore Edmonton
Packed Saturday night at the Ice Castle!
Admission to the Ice Castle ranges from about $10-$20 depending on day you go, age, and if you pre-order or get tickets at the door.

On Saturday night it was packed! We lucked out getting a parking spot because a super nice man was pulling out and waved us in to take his spot but when we left the car line to get in had doubled and was winding out of the park. I imagine this is because it was the last Saturday of the holiday break and lines should subside after this weekend. We also went during what I imagine is a peak time (6:30).

Ice Castle - Edmonton - Hawrelak Park - Explore Edmonton
There’s an ice slide for kids!
The Ice Castle really is for all ages. The creators of the ice castle initially made the structures for their kids so this one also features a kid-friendly slide (long line-up to get on that too though).

Ice Castle Edmonton Explore Edmonton
The ice fountain!
There’s also a cool ice fountain in the centre of the structure (which takes up about a hectare of the park).

Ice Castle - Edmonton - Hawrelak Park - Explore Edmonton
There’s a few different ice seating areas!
For someone who loves to take photos wherever I go, the Ice Castle was basically like a giant photo opportunity. We stopped to take photos at the entrance, we stopped to take photos by the fountain, we stopped to take photos in the different nooks and narrow pathways. There were also different ice ‘seats’ where you could pose for images.

Ice Castle - Edmonton - Hawrelak Park - Explore Edmonton
Ice castle or ice cave? Either way – so cool.
The Ice Castle doesn’t feel as big once you’re inside as it looks on the outside. You can get through the different paths and cave-like areas (really cool cave-like areas) pretty quickly once inside. Your time spent is extended if you’re doing photos like we did or if you’re waiting in line for the kid slide but after the initial loop, we were satisfied and ready to leave.

Ice Castle - Edmonton - Hawrelak Park - Explore Edmonton
Crazy details.
When we first walked into the Ice Castle I was reminded of the scene in Jurassic World where the kids see the amusement park for the very first time. It’s kind of like this awestruck, slow but epic kind of score. That’s how I would describe the music that was playing at the Ice Castle and I really think that ‘awestruck’ feel is what they were going for.

Ice Castle - Edmonton - Hawrelak Park - Explore Edmonton
Some weird ice formations at the Ice Castle.
Edmonton talks a lot about embracing winter, embracing the cold, being proud of our Winter City and building events and activities based around snow and ice and the Ice Castle at Hawrelak Park does all of that.

I love Edmonton and the winters that come with it (not all the time, admittedly, but things like the Ice Castle certainly help!)

Ice Castle - Edmonton - Hawrelak Park - Explore Edmonton
What a great winter adventure at the Ice Castle in Hawrelak Park!
What a wonderful addition to our winter city.

And what great, worldwide attention we’re getting because of it – who doesn’t want to visit Canada’s first & largest, 25 million-pound, Narnia/Frozen-like ice castle?

Ice Castle Edmonton Explore Edmonton
The icicles shouldn’t fall on you, but you do sign a waiver before going in, lol.
The Ice Castle is in Edmonton until March (weather permitting – though Mike thinks it could easily last longer if the company didn’t actually take it down, given how much ice there is and how long it would take to naturally melt).

Ice Castle Edmonton Explore Edmonton
So cool how they made this Ice Castle!
I would absolutely recommend you check it out – both at night and during the day (I’m hoping to take my mom soon, and go with my niece and nephew!)

A few of my tips on how to have the best visit to the Ice Castle: 

  • Go at least twice – once during the day and once at night for different views and experiences 
  • Take lots of photos – it’s basically the best photo op location (and so perfect for Edmonton!) plus it’s so unique it’s begging for photos! 
  • Bundle up – we probably could’ve stayed longer but we’re pretty cold!
  • Bring the family – it’s for all ages, and probably even more magical to see kids’ faces light up 
  • Pre-order tickets online – it’s cheaper and easier! 
  • Go weekdays, earlier in the afternoon or later in the evening – to avoid peak hours and long line ups, but also be prepared for some line-ups!
  • Make a whole night of it – bring skates to skate at Hawrelak Park (or visit the new Victoria Park freezes at after)
  • Maybe bring your own portable hot chocolate! I’m thinking those takeaway cases from Tim Hortons. Like a perfect Canadian winter scene lol.

Next on our winter city/exploring Edmonton list: the icy freezeway at the Victoria Park Oval!

Learn more about Ice Castle Edmonton & get tickets here.

So have you been to the Ice Castle yet? What did you think?!

Linda

Follow lindork on Instagram

Linda Hoang is an Edmonton blogger who writes about food, travel, lifestyle/events and pets. She's also a social media/digital specialist with a journalism background. Linda is in love with her city and loves exploring and promoting Edmonton and other places she visits with her husband Mike. Linda is also the founder of the Edmonton International Cat Festival (and has 2 cats herself, along with 2 dogs).

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  • Classic Vietnamese pork chops on rice with eggs, scallion oil & cucumbers for a nice and needed Friday night in. Super simple. Super comforting! ❤️
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  • I came for the #Instagrammable Skating Rink. 💕 I think that probably sounds silly, but I do love how “Instagrammable” spaces can encourage people to #ExploreEdmonton! Had a lovely double date at the lovely Victoria Park Oval & Freezeway with @mikethyking, @littlmissandrea & Gordon! ⛸👯‍♀️👯‍♂️
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  • Ohhhhh so many feelings. ❤️ I had such an incredible experience watching @traviswall’s @shapingsoundco AND finally meeting Travis! Fun fact: I used to run a fan page for Travis back during his early #SoYouThinkYouCanDance days. He said he used to check the page for updates on himself, lol. 😂❤️ Thank you to the @albertaballetcanada for inviting me to see this phenomenal show with just the most ridiculously talented dancers! 💃🏻🕺 and for asking me to host the pre-show #DanceTalks Q&A. 🤓 Thanks to @nikolevallins for arranging the meet & greet 📸 and thanks to my old friend @jasmine.topham for coming & sharing in the #SYTYCD love! So happy. ❤️
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  • 🍩🍩 DONUT CONTEST! 🍩🍩 What’s your ideal donut? Tell @TheRecRoomCa for a chance to have your donut featured at The Rec Room of your choice, win a $200 gift card, game tags, and swag! If you win, you also get to eat your donut every day in March for free! Head to my blog (link in bio 👩🏻‍💻) for contest details! I also share what my ideal donut is. 😉 Also head over to The Rec Room’s Facebook Page to enter before Jan. 29! 🍩 #partner
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  • #NewOnTheBlog: I write about the delicious, authentic Venezuelan lunches I’ve been having at @elfogonlatino on 118 Avenue. ❤️ It’s great to have two awesome options for arepas north and south of the river! Read my post on my blog (link in bio 👩🏻‍💻)
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  • When it’s -32C out ☃️, there’s no better food choice. 🍜 I warm right up with my mom’s pho at @KingNoodleHouse! (and you can too! 😉) I’m also excited to share that @KingNoodleHouse is participating in Edmonton’s first-ever #ChinatownDiningWeek! We’re offering a $15 two-course dinner option - your choice of a large bowl of pho + a spring roll & grilled pork balls platter. There are 4 other great restaurants in the area participating too. Learn more on my blog! (link in bio 👩🏻‍💻)
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  • Fun fact: @mikethyking makes perfect waffles. ❤️
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  • I’m such a sucker for eggs on anything—especially on poutine—ESPECIALLY with shoestring skinny fries. 😍 This is The Cure from @centralsocialhall, with red wine gravy, avocado, bacon and a roasted poblano + white cheddar sauce. It’s eggcellent! 🍳🍟😋
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  • New year, old favourites.
@seoulfriedchicken 🍗🙌🏻😋
(note: they’re closed until Jan. 11!)
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  • It’s a new year so I wanted to introduce myself to new followers & reintroduce myself to old. 😉👋🏻 Thanks so much for following me!
I really appreciate it. 💕
I tend to post a lot of photos of food ( 🤤) and family (specifically my husband and best friend @mikethyking, and our four furbabes @OliveAndArtie 🐶🐶 and Thor and Loki 🐱🐱).
I love to #ExploreEdmonton & #TravelAlberta — or travel anywhere really ✈️, and I will often invite you to read my blog posts (link in bio 👩🏻‍💻), and often partner with great businesses that let me run a lot of fun giveaways for you! 
My family owns a pretty popular Vietnamese pho 🍜  restaurant in #yegchinatown called @kingnoodlehouse and I have a pretty great #socialmedia job at a marketing and communications agency called @calderbateman. 
I love taking photos — in the last year I started mapping out Instagrammable Walls of Edmonton (#IGWallsofYEG) 📸 and love finding them wherever I travel. 
I’m also the Founder of the Edmonton International Cat Festival (#YEGCatFest) 😻, the only event of its kind of Canada, that celebrates cats, cat people, and cat culture, while raising money for local cat rescues. The next fest is May 26 (mark your calendars!)
I care deeply about the work I do, and tend to say “yes” (maybe more often than I should). I can also sometimes be impatient. 😅
It might seem like I’m always out and about which isn’t untrue, but I also spend a serious amount of time watching Netflix (who’s with me? 🙋🏻‍♀️)
This Instagram feed, along with all my posts on social media and blog, are just highlights of my life. I love seeing your highlights too!
So that’s just a little a bit about me. Thanks again for following me, liking my posts, leaving comments, sending messages and watching my Stories. I really do appreciate it, and feel grateful that you’re interested in connecting with me. Looking forward to what 2018 brings! ✨
Also, this photo is from the lovely Edmonton Ice Castles, which reopens for the season this Friday. It’s an awesome place to visit, so make sure you go! ❄️
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  • Part of our #NewYearsDay Open House spread today! 💕
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