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Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center

201 Waterfront Street · National Harbor, Maryland 20745 USA

Christmas on the Potomac

The Making of ICE!®

From an incredible land of ice and snow halfway around the world, a remarkably talented team of artisans travels to the D.C. area — just to create the amazing ICE! attraction for Christmas on the Potomac at Gaylord National Resort.

For tickets & information: +1-301-965-4000

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View ICE! Highlights Video

From Harbin, China to the D.C. Area

Our troupe of ice-loving artisans hails from the city of Harbin, located in Northeast China, where relentless winter winds blow across from neighboring Siberia. Temperatures in Harbin fall dramatically to an average of only two degrees, sometimes plummeting to -36 degrees! Harbin stays below freezing for almost half the year.

Beginnings — Ice Lanterns to Light the Night

Ice Lantern Festivals began in the late Ming and early Qing dynasties of Imperial China. During long winter nights, the overcast skies obscured the stars, and without a compass, navigation was nearly impossible for Chinese hunters. They developed ice lanterns by freezing water in wooden buckets, which formed an ice block once overturned. A candle was placed inside the ice block which magnified the candle light.

A Modern Frozen Festival

In modern times, an Ice Lantern Festival began to be held every winter in celebration of these brave hunters. Citizens of Harbin would cut blocks of ice out of the Songhua River to do some simple carving before placing them on display among intricately constructed ice lanterns. During the seven-month-long winters, one of the highlights became informal competitions between families to see who could create the most impressive display of sculptures and carvings for the Festival.

ICE! at Gaylord National

The ice for ICE arrives in approximately 36 truckloads over a 3-week period from an ice factory. There are two trucks a day for 15 days, which is about as fast as the ice factory can produce it. Large blocks of ice are delivered on pallets via refrigerated tractor-trailers and then moved into place by forklift.

Three Types of Ice

Clear, "Crystal" Ice

The most difficult to make, crystal ice  is created using highly filtered de-ionized water. It takes three days to freeze the 45 gallons of water used to create each 400-pound ice block. By freezing it slowly, the molecules are able to line up perfectly, similar to a diamond or crystal.

White Ice

White ice looks like compacted snow. It is frozen quickly, giving it a cloudy look, much like the ice made in a home freezer. By freezing quickly, the molecules do not have time to perfectly align.

Colored Ice

Dyed one of nine brilliant colors, colored ice is used for highlighting and accenting many of the ice sculptures. These giant blocks are made with simple food coloring that is added during the freezing process and the water must be stirred constantly to ensure a consistent color throughout the block.

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