Our visit to ICE! featuring Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer

For those who don’t know it, ICE! is an annual holiday event here in the DC area…visitors can walk through a holiday-themed story told through a tour of massive and colorful ice sculptures, all hand-carved by artisans from Harbin, China!
Ever since learning about it, I have always wanted to visit, but the cost of it, even with discounts and deals, kept me away. This year however, we decided to FINALLY PULL THE TRIGGER and JUST DO IT. It was still very expensive, ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS for our family of four (parking included), but I am so glad that we did it :) And this is coming from a cheapskate who hates to part with money!

Here are some scenes from our winter wonderland walk:
As for the rest of the family, although Luke found the frozen ice sculptures impressive, the heavy crowd really bothered him. For example, even with timed-entry, we had to wait 40 minutes just to get in, and then once we were in the exhibit, it was super crowded. Actually, walking through the scenes from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer was bearable since everyone walked at a different pace and the space was large and open, but when we came upon the ice slides, that was when everything came to a halt. We waited about 10 minutes for our turn, and while waiting in line and not moving, that was when the cold really set in. Speaking of the cold, it is a chilly 9 degrees in the exhibit, so while the kids had fun (the slides especially), both of them said it was too cold.
^^on top of the slides^^

A little side story: We had the whole thing planned out. Luke would go down the slides first so he can record the kids' joyful laughter as they go down, I would go last. Oh man, we later found out that he never pushed the red button to record! So we missed the whole thing! I did take a video from the top from my perspective, but boy was Luke kicking himself. And since the wait was so long, we didn't want to wait again for a do-over. Grrrr, but oh well :)
^^first time wearing #blueparka^^

Anyway, despite the cost, the wait, the cold, the mishap, the whatever-else, it was totally “worth it” for me. Yes, less crowd would have made it a more enjoyable experience, but all in all, I give it a big fat thumbs up!

Tips Before You Go and During:
1. Go during off-peak hours. Now, I don't know when that is exactly, but I would think early in the morning or later in the evening just before closing, definitely NOT at 3:30pm on a weekend.
2. Each year ICE! features a different holiday-themed story. It's important to know the story before you go so the ice sculptures make more sense as you walk through them. We watched Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer that morning before we our visit.
3. There are always some kind of deals and discounts, never pay full price.
4. Now that I have done it, I am glad that we didn't take the kids there any earlier than this year. Kids 3 and under are free for a reason.
5. Prior to ICE!, we walked around National Harbor, which is all decked out for the holidays. It's worthwhile.
6. Along the same line, plan ~15 minutes in your visit to take in the sights of Gaylord National Resort. The centerpiece -- a huge Christmas tree sculpture constructed of metal hanging from the ceiling. Time your visit just right and there is a Tree Lighting Show that includes laser lights, starts, dancing water fountain and indoor snowfall. We didn't see this.


  1. wow that looks really cool.. very impressive.

  2. Good grief, definitely one of those things I will never do again. First off, ICE is something that belongs under the hood of a car. Second, well, there is no second, I'm just glad we knocked this thing out so we won't have to do it ever again. I'm not sure I would even put up with the hassle if this were free. Then again, short of going to Harbin, China, this is as close as we'll ever get to those frozen playgrounds.


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