THE BLOG

Video: Watch Utah's Amazing Ice Castles Take Shape in This Stunning Timelapse

02/10/2015 09:28 am ET | Updated Apr 11, 2015

Each year in a handful of cities across America, a team of artists turn 20 million pounds of frozen water into incredible ice castles straight out of a Disney film. Now, for the first time ever, you can watch the the painstakingly-created winter wonderland come together in one of the most amazing timelapses you've ever seen.

Despite numerous setbacks caused by an unseasonably warm winter, the stellar crew behind Midway, Utah's chilly art project was still able to build an awe-inspiring ice castle, complete with a few nods to this year's Disney phenomenon Frozen, and we were lucky enough to be on hand to capture the entire thing.

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Every year, Utah's Ice Castles, LLC selects a few lucky cities to host their frozen works of art, and over nearly seven weeks, they set out to create their glistening fortresses one icicle at a time. No, seriously. That's how they're actually created.

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Using a process they call "icicle farming", the teams "plant" their ice on a wire frame where a custom-built grid of irrigation pipes regularly mist them from above. Eventually, the icicles grow to maturity and are harvested much like any crop at a conventional farm. From there, the icicles are merged until they create one massive, 40-foot structure. The most incredible part? They harvest more than 5,000 icicles a day, and all by hand.

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The idea to start building gigantic castles out of ice sprang from the mind of Brent Christensen, who simply needed something to overcome a bad bout of cabin fever after moving from sunny California to Utah in the dead of winter. When most people might be content to build a snowman, Christensen got more than a little carried away.

From the official Ice Castles website:

When Brent moved his young family from California to Utah they wanted to do something exciting in the new found cold weather.  So of course, like any dedicated father, Brent went to work on an ice rink in the back yard….but not just any old ice rink.  This first-time ice rink came complete with a 20′ slide, an ice cave, and a castle like tower reaching 20° into Utah’s rocky mountain sky.  His children affectionately called it the “Ice Castle.” 

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Today, Christenson's backyard builds have become some of the most cherished temporary artworks in numerous cities, drawing thousands of wide-eyed visitors, each eager to see the eye-popping lightshows that appear in the ice once the sun has gone down. This year, Lincon, New Hampshire, Eden Prairie, Minnesota, and Stratton, Vermont were lucky enough to see ice castles grace their cities. Unfortunately, while Midway, Utah's own castle was able to entertain visitors for a brief time, the same warm weather that delayed its construction cut its life short. 

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Planning on visiting one of the ice castles yourself? Better hurry and snag your tickets, then use Roadtrippers to find turn-by-turn directions to these incredible sights and more, like a few of America's real castles (Loveland Castle, Bannerman Castle, Boldt Castle, or Solomon's Castle to name just a few) or seriously (and literally) cool places like the Alaska's Aurora Ice Museum or Florida's ICEBAR Orland - both made completely out of ice and open year-round!