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Explore the Most Dazzling Palaces of Ice, Handmade from Thousands of Icicles

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photograph by firennice/Flickr user

No, this is not Narnia’s icy home of the White Witch, although the lover of endless winter from C. S. Lewis’ world would likely have adored this frozen landscape. Instead it is the work of artist Brent Christensen who annually constructs these temporary palaces of ice.

Ice Castles, as the project is called, started with Christensen experimenting with constructing an explorable ice structure in his Utah backyard for his kids. His experiments with building geological-like forms that drape like stalactites and stalagmites in caves and passageways evolved into more ambitious constructions. This year he is unveiling three new Ice Castles in Breckenridge, Colorado; Lincoln, New Hampshire; and Midway, Utah. 

Here’s a description of the construction of an Ice Castle on the project’s site: ”We start by ‘growing’ more than 5,000 icicles each day that we harvest and sculpt together. Newly placed icicles are then drenched in freezing water. The blend of icicle placement, changing temperatures, water volume, and wind result in an astonishing variety of ice formations.”

Not exactly the most water conservation conscious project, but the results are far more stunning, organic, and otherworldly than the usual block-based ice castles. This process is continued for weeks into a complicated layering of towers stretching up to 25 feet, hidden corridors, and arches where spikes of ice loom down, all with LED lights embedded to give a glow at night. The lifespan of the Ice Castles is largely dependent on the weather.

Here’s where you can visit this year, and check the Ice Castles site for more details on times and ticketing:

Breckenridge, Colorado :: Opening December 26

Lincoln, New Hampshire :: Opening December 27

Midway, Utah :: Opening December 27

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photograph by starfive/Flickr user

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photograph by starfive/Flickr user

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photograph by Photo Dean

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photograph by firennice/Flickr user

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photograph by jpellgen/Flickr user

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photograph by Mary J.I.

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photograph by Mary J.I.

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photograph by jpellgen/Flickr user

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photograph by Jenni Konrad

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photograph by firennice/Flickr user

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photograph by Photo Dean/Flickr user


 Find more astounding ice castles on the Atlas Obscura >