Winter Road Trip: Visiting Ice Castles at Lake Geneva, Wis.

A winter fairyland in ice is under construction in five US locations, including Lake Geneva in neighboring Wisconsin

Brush up on your songs from “Frozen,” keep your fingers crossed for consistently cold temperatures in Wisconsin, and get poised to snag your tickets for Lake Geneva’s Ice Castles. Tickets for the peak season of this 2023 attraction are scheduled to go on sale on Nov. 28.

Kids at Ice Castles in Wisconsin
All photos from Ice Castles Facebook page

Ice Castles is an award-winning frozen attraction, built annually using hundreds of thousands of hand-placed icicles to create a massive set of ice structures weighing more than 20 million pounds. Each castle includes LED-lit sculptures, frozen thrones, ice-carved tunnels, slides, fountains and more. The Wisconsin location will offer horse-drawn sleigh rides along the golf course at the Geneva National Resort and Club. New in 2023: winter fairy and snow queen characters greeting visitors to the castle.

The founder of Ice Castles — Brent Christensen — says he first built an ice cave in his own Utah yard in order to get his six kids out of the house. Since 2011, the mission at Ice Castles has remained the same: “to create happiness, laughter, and unforgettable winter memories.”

Warm spells or other uncooperative weather during December can affect a location’s build time and opening schedule. To be informed of Lake Geneva’s 2023 opening date, subscribe to their newsletter or follow Ice Castles on social media.

Throne at Ice Castles in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin

Tickets and logistics

Tip: Tickets will sell fast! The link to purchase tickets online is here.

Timing: The tickets that go on sale 11/28 will be for 3-4 weeks of peak season ONLY. After this initial launch of ticket sales, additional tickets (for dates before and after the peak season) will be added on a week-by-week basis as the weather permits and the schedule takes shape. Typically, they open in early January and operate through late February or early March.

Prices: Note that tickets are more expensive on weekends (Friday-Sunday) than on weekdays (Monday, Wednesday, Thursday). They are closed on Tuesdays. Tickets for holidays (Jan. 16, Feb. 20) sell at the weekend rate.

  • General Admission (ages 12 and up): $25 weekday, $29 weekend
  • Child Admission (ages 4-11): $17 weekday, $22 weekend
  • Children under 4 admitted free

Buy in advance: Tickets may be available on-site if Ice Castles is not sold out. (On-site prices are subject to higher rates; for guaranteed entry and the lowest price, buy tickets online.) Tickets are nonrefundable, but dates and times may be changed as long as changes are made at least 24 hours in advance.

Overnight: The host to Ice Castles is the Geneva National Resort, which offers spiffy overnight accommodations and package deals of all kinds for your family, tied in to Ice Castles as well as to other winter activities, weather permitting (snowshoeing, ice skating, sledding). They’ve got igloos for dining too! If you’re feeling spendy, make a weekend of it here.

Ice Castles in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin

Info if you go

Food/beverage info is still TBA for 2023 in Lake Geneva. In the meantime, here is some helpful information summarized from the Ice Castles website.

BEST TIME TO VISIT? Tickets come with an entry time. A daytime visit gives you beautiful blue in your photos and lets you see lots of detail, while a night visit gives you a chance to see everything lit up. If you time your visit around sunset, you can get the complete viewing experience! Be aware that re-entry to Ice Castles is not permitted (except to use portapotties outside the entrance). Our readers recommend a daytime visit if you have little ones.

WHAT TO WEAR? Dress for cold-weather outdoor activity. The walking surface is crushed ice/snow but hopefully not too slippery. Boots are best; ice cleats are permitted but not required.

WHAT TO KNOW ABOUT ICE SLIDES? Definitely wear snow pants if you want to go on an ice slide. Those who try a larger slide will be provided with a mat to use. No slides or tubes are allowed on the ice slides.

WHAT ABOUT STROLLERS OR SLEDS? There are no wheeled vehicles permitted so leave strollers at home. Sleds are allowed only for pulling small children through the castle (not for going down hills).

WHAT ABOUT ACCESSIBILITY? Those who would have difficulty walking on a sandy/gravelly beach — or through slush — will have trouble navigating Ice Castles. A guest needing mobility support may be pulled (by members of their own party) through the installation in an ice sled that they provide themselves.

HOW TO AVOID CROWDS? Visit on a weekday (except Tuesdays when it’s closed) and come later at night in order to avoid the most crowded times. The pricier privacy option is to shell out several hundred dollars to reserve access for one hour to the VIP Arctic Alcove!

Ice castles in Lake Geneva

If you can’t get enough winter, the city of Lake Geneva puts on an annual Winterfest, coming up on its 28th year. In 2023 it is scheduled for Feb. 1-5 and includes a downtown ice sculpture tour, igloos and bonfires on the beach, live entertainment, and even the multi-day National Snow Sculpting Championship. Learn more about Lake Geneva tourism here.

Has your family visited Ice Castles in Lake Geneva? Email us and let us know how you liked it!