Three Days Away: Holiday Classic ‘A Christmas Story™’ Told Through Hand-Carved Ice Sculptures
ICE!, the annual holiday tradition at Gaylord Hotels, opens this Friday on Nov. 17, 2023 and will run through Jan. 1, 2024. Using more than two million pounds – or 1,000 tons – of ice, the amusing Warner Bros. holiday classic, ‘A Christmas Story™’ will be brought to life in ice sculpture form by a team of 40 world-class ice artisans from Harbin, China. The holiday celebration continues with performances from “Cirque: Spirit of Christmas,” ice slides, Christmas activities and a visit from Santa Claus.
Starting with more than 6,000 massive ice blocks, the carvers work approximately six weeks – more than 12,000 man-hours – to create the nearly 17,000-square-foot frozen attraction. The artisans, using skills passed down through generations, follow a 300-page design book to create the ice spectacle. Ice carvings range in size from details as tiny as a coin to soaring scenes more than 30 feet tall. The environment will be kept frozen by a state-of-the-art chilling system that maintains the attraction’s temperature at nine degrees Fahrenheit. Guests will sport a signature blue parka to stay warm.
The carvers will travel more than 5,700 miles from their homes in Harbin, China to Aurora, Colorado. Known as “Ice City,” Harbin is home to the world’s largest annual ice and snow sculpting festival in the world. At Gaylord Rockies, some of the same artisans who create the Harbin festival will carve 300-pound blocks of ice into the larger-than-life, whimsical scenes. Carvers will use chisels, chippers, tongs, handsaws, grinders and even chainsaws to bring “A Christmas Story” to life.
In addition to the amazing ice sculptures from the fan-favorite Christmas movie, guests can also take rides down the two-story-tall ice slides and traverse through ice tunnels and arches. The ICE! experience concludes in a separate area dedicated to the Nativity scene, meticulously carved, and shaped in a dramatic display of crystal-clear ice.
While ICE! is the signature attraction for Christmas at Gaylord Rockies, “Cirque: Spirit of Christmas” returns for another year with dazzling costumes, breathtaking aerial performances, and feats that defy gravity. The original Gaylord Hotels production will feature high-flying stunts, acrobatic feats, elaborate staging, and a dramatic musical score directed by renowned Broadway Director Neil Goldberg. This Cirque-style show centers on Noel, a child dismayed by the hustle and bustle of the holidays. Throughout the 65-minute show, Noel is visited in dreamlike chapters by trapeze artists, acrobats, aerial silk performers and others who help rekindle the Christmas spirit. The show will be performed by an international cast of 25 artists hailing from Germany, Hungary, Portugal, Ethiopia, Czech Republic, Mongolia, Russia, and the U.S.
Here is a rundown of other events, live entertainment, hands-on activities, and exciting attractions taking place this holiday season at the resort:
- Guests can test their winter wits inside the Naughty or Nice Escape Room. Yuletide trickster Jack Frost is back with his icy antics and has added new names to Santa’s infamous Naughty List. But Jack has a deal to make – if guests can sneak into Santa’s office and solve a series of puzzles, their names will disappear from the Naughty List. Guests need to put on their holiday thinking caps on, solve the mystery, and then dash away, dash away, dash away all!
- One of Santa’s top toymakers teaches the secrets of becoming one of St. Nick’s helpers and leads the new elf students as they create a special keepsake gift or craft to take home for someone special in Elf Training Academy.
- Christmas creativity runs wild in the Gingerbread Decorating Corner. Achieve confection perfection with edible art, and enjoy a sweet meet-and-greet and photograph with Nutmeg the Gingerbread Man.
- Guests can chat with the jolly old elf himself, Santa Claus, to make sure they have secured a spot on his prestigious Nice List. Santa will meet guests inside Mistletoe Village from Nov. 17 through Dec. 24 before he heads back to the North Pole for his gift-giving journey. Father Christmas’ Library is presented by DEI.
- Join the jolliest hostess during Mrs. Claus’ Christmas Traditions for a fun-filled celebration. Delight in the retelling of the Christmas classic, ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas, sing along to favorite holiday songs, and share a batch of Santa’s favorite snack – warm, fresh-baked Christmas cookies and ice-cold milk.
- Also in Mistletoe Village, guests can experience Build-A-Bear Workshop®. Guests make their own furry friend, take part in the iconic Heart Ceremony, and personalize with seasonal outfits, accessories, sounds and scents.
- Reindeer Games™ Scavenger Hunt featuring Rudolph and The Misfit Toys. The Misfit Toys are all lost, and they need you to find them! With Rudolph’s help, follow the clues to find the Misfit Toys and send them on their way to their new homes.
- Yuletide Street Market in Mistletoe Village features wall-to-wall holiday gifts, collectibles, toys, plush, home décor, apparel, ornaments, branded merchandise, and more.
- Relâche Spa at Gaylord Rockies features Winter Wonderland massage, facial and pedicure treatments, highlighting the benefits of eucalyptus. The aromatic plant is known to be high in antioxidants, to promote relaxation and reduce pain.
Overnight guests will enjoy perks including:
- “Chill Pass” privileges to ICE!, offering front-of-line access and shorter wait times. “Chill Pass” is free for eligible guests. Attraction tickets are required and sold separately, in advance.
- An invitation to “Extra Cool Hour,” which provides early-entry into ICE! and Mistletoe Village one hour before it opens for day guests. “Extra Cool Hour” is free for eligible guests. Attraction tickets are required and sold separately, in advance.
Also being unwrapped this year are Christmas at Gaylord Rockies packages that include special room rates and admission to select events. Guests are encouraged to book their experiences early, as advance online reservations are required for all ticketed events. Tickets are limited to many of the experiences. For tickets, more information, or to book an overnight stay, guests may visit ChristmasatGaylordRockies.com.