Minnesota ice castles feature tunnels, slides and fountains

The entire structure is built on thousands of homegrown icicles.

EDEN PRARIE, Minnesota (WCCO) – Winter fans in Minnesota are about to experience a magical frozen treat.

Dozens of ice towers, along with tunnels, caves and slides made of solid ice are all party of the city’s ice castles. After a lengthy warm weather delay, builders are placing the final touches on the Eden Prairie Ice Castles.

“All the ice you see out here is just 100 percent natural. There’s no dye or additives, it’s just blue ice,” said site Blake Hawbaker, site manager.

Hawbaker says they stick to a theme and keep the castle looking as organic and natural as possible.

Sixty towers made of solid ice are spread over an acre. The walls about 10 feet thick.

Between the walls, you’ll find tunnels, caves, fountains, waterfalls and slides. The entire structure is built on thousands of homegrown icicles.

“We grow thousands of icicles everyday. Harvest them just by picking them and bringing them up to the top of the castle,” Hawbaker said.

They place the icicles where the ice should flow. The water freezes on top and in time, and the icicles are absorbed into the walls.

Hawbaker says it takes more than 2 million gallons of water that come from three miles of water lines running underneath the castle.

“Spray the water and it catches on the ice and freezes, and builds up and up and up, and that’s how we design the whole thing,” he said.

It takes a crew of 10 to 20 people at least 12 hours a day, seven days a week. With only a few days left, they’re almost set to open.

If you’re planning on checking out the palace made of ice, bundle up. And if you want an extra special show, plan on attending once the sun goes down.

“Hundreds of lights all through the ice, and we have a light show synced up to the music,” Hawbaker said.

Ice castles are a winter tradition, but their locations are not always the same. Besides Eden Prairie, this year’s sites include Midway, Utah, Lincoln, New Hampshire and Edmonton, Canada.

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