Cool Places

Some Families Make This An Annual Tradition To See These Holiday Ice Sculptures

Many families dream of having their holiday celebrations somewhere warmer during this time. However, for some, the perfect way to get into the Christmas spirit is to visit an ice-filled place were bundling up in parkas is mandatory.

It’s become a chilly-but-wonderful tradition for Samantha Sidoriak and her family to visit ice each holiday season at the Gaylord National Hotel near Washington, D.C. “Although the ice is freezing, the kids love the sculptures and slides.” she said, “I didn’t know about this until I became a mom.”

The Gaylord resorts used to feature one intellectual property each holiday season before the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2001, Gaylord opened the first Ice in Nashville, Tenn. It now attracts over one million visitors each year. Guests can walk through and experience scenes from holiday movies like Santa Claus are Comin’ to Town and Frosty the Snowman, which were carved out of millions of pounds of ice.

In his role at Gaylord Hotels, Niko Nickolaou oversees special events and creative. These artisans are believed to be from Harbin, China, a famous town for its ice sculptures. “Harbin is the ice capital of the world,” says Nickolaou. “Every year, they have a complete ice festival and carve multi-story structures, slides, houses – all out of ice.”

It costs about $20 for children and $40 for adults to view the sculptures. Additional packages and tickets are available for snowball-making, milk, and cookies with Mrs. Claus, snow-tubing, and holiday stage shows.

Nickolaou says families return yearly to walk through this winter wonderland at Gaylord Hotels. He said, “When you travel with your family at that time of year, you want to experience something unique. Everyone has a different story and connection to the experience.”