MIDWAY — Eight years ago, Brent Christensen was building ice creations in his backyard. Today, his creation has became a large business with several locations spread throughout the country and into Canada. The Midway Ice Castles are slated to open on Dec. 30, weather permitting.
“It’s a little incomprehensible. Sometimes it doesn’t sink in how big this whole thing is,” Christensen said in an interview with the Deseret News. “I got an email from a lady at our PR firm. I didn’t know we had a PR firm.”
The idea of the ice castles began when Christensen was playing around with various ice structures in his backyard. In previous years, he had built an igloo and an ice skating rink. One year, he stumbled on the idea of how to create structures with only running water and icicles, and that’s when the idea of creating the ice castles started forming.
His first public display of the ice castles was in Midway in 2009 at the Zermatt Resort. After two years of display, Christensen moved the location away from Utah into Colorado in an attempt to find a colder location. The number of locations has expanded every year since, and they returned to Utah in 2013.
This winter, there are five ice castles in Midway, Minnesota, Wisconsin, New Hampshire and Alberta, Canada. The Wisconsin location is new this season.
Christensen said that to build these ice castles, they grow about 10,000 icicles each day, then place them in formations and spray water on them. He likes the outside walls to be around 15 to 20 feet tall, with many of the towers inside the castle at about 25 to 30 feet tall.
In previous years at their New Hampshire site, one tower was built as high as 60 feet. While Christensen said it’s cool to have some parts of the castle be really tall, the real focus is on the overall experience and interactivity of the castle. Christensen said their hope for the castle is to provide a transportive experience where people can feel like they are immediately immersed in a different realm upon entering.
“The cool thing about it is that it’s so abstract and so natural that it can really leave it up to your imagination," Christensen said. "It’s different for everybody.”
Upon entering the Midway Ice Castles in the evening, visitors will be able to see the ice castles lit up as each tower has one or two lights that are synchronized to music. New this year in Midway is a tower with 12 lights in it, which Christensen said will be synchronized to do some really cool light patterns.
Also new this year are additional slides due to how popular the slides were last year, a more animated fountain, a different design and a better maze, he said.
“Every year the design is different, and we try to improve every year,” Christensen said. “I think if people have come before, they’ll enjoy it at least as much as they did, if not more.”
Their goal for opening the ice castles is Dec. 30, although Christensen said that will depend on if the weather cooperates. In the past, the weather hasn’t been too kind to the castles in Midway, he said. In addition to leaving Midway for two years in search of colder weather, two years ago the ice castles were only open for three days because it was too warm.
Updates on when the Midway Ice Castles will officially be open, hours and tickets are at icecastles.com.
If you go …
What: Ice Castles in Midway
Where: Ice Castles at Homestead Resort, 700 Homestead Drive, Midway
When: Open Dec. 30, weather permitting, Monday-Thursday, 3-9 p.m.; Friday, 3-10 p.m.; and Saturday, noon-10 p.m.
Tickets: Monday-Thursday, $9.95 for general, $6.95 for children ages 4-11, free for children under 4; Friday and Saturday, $13.95 for general, $8.95 for children ages 4-11, free for children under 4. Closed Sundays. Tickets must be purchased in advance at icecastles.com/midway.
Note: Enchanted Ice Princesses will be available, weather permitting, Mondays and Wednesdays, 5-7 p.m., Fridays, 5-8 p.m., Saturdays, 2-8 p.m.; Fire performances Fridays and Saturdays, 5:30-8:30 p.m.