As the holidays quickly approach, you might be looking for ideas to get into the holiday spirit or fill those days off from school with a fun adventure. Every year, our family looks forward to venturing through a brand new ice show at the Gaylord National Harbor. ICE! is by far the coolest attraction around town and you wont want to miss this magical frozen winter wonderland. ICE! is an annual holiday event that runs November 16, 2018 through January 1, 2019, and is the perfect way to make fond memories with your family. I hope that this guide helps your family plan out and prepare for celebrating Christmas on the Potomac.
WHAT IS ICE!?
ICE! is a spectacular ice display that showcases colorful, larger-than life ice sculptures. You will walk through a self guided tour of over two million pounds of colorful ice sculptures that are hand-carved. (Learn more about The Making of ICE!)
One of the first exhibits you get to see is the history and making of ice sculpting. You can watch short educational clips and even touch the ice, to see how cold it is. As you know, I enjoy activities that promote learning through play. My boys spent a great deal of time in awe and wonder at the creation of this art form.
Once you have suited up in your blue parka; you will make your way out to the tent where the magic unfolds. Inside the massive tent set at a chilling nine degrees, you get to admire the work of vibrant scenes that have come to life by talented artists. It took 35 artists over 12 hours a day for 30 days to bring these breath taking scenes to life.
This year’s ICE! display is my favorite theme yet…A Charlie Brown Christmas. It feels like you are walking right into the animated special from your childhood! The carvers do a magnification job of capturing the art and magic of Charles Schulz Peanuts. Many of the iconic scenes from the Charlie Browns Christmas are shown through out different rooms. I loved the Psychiatric help scene between Charlie Brown and Lucy; as well as one of the last displays with all of Charlie Browns Friends holding hands and singing around the Christmas tree.
At the half way point, be sure to venture through the ice tunnel and zip down a slide. Don’t miss walking through Snoopy’s house too, which is a little further down the road. End your tour with a gorgeous view of the crystal clear nativity scene.
Location: Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center, 201 Waterfront Street, National Harbor, MD
Hours: November 16, 2018 through January 1, 2019
Admission: Tickets start at $32 for adult general admission and $24 for children. Children ages 3 and under are FREE!
CHRISTMAS VILLAGE ACTIVITIES
Tickets to ICE! includes admission to the display. However, there are other activities available that cost additional money. You can purchase bundles to save money or add activities individually to make your experience unique.
- Gingerbread House- This fun, sticky and interactive decorating tradition just got even sweeter. Choose from three decorating kits to put together and then meet The Gingerbread Man himself! ($)
- Ice Skating– Practice your perfect figure eights on our indoor ice skating rink. Kids of all ages can glide along surrounded by our scenic Christmas village. ($)
- Photos With Santa- Don’t miss your chance to have a treasured photograph taken with old Saint Nick before he leaves for the North Pole. Available thru December 24th only. (Packages start at $25)
- Mrs. Claus Christmas Tradition- Gather around for warm and cozy fun with the jolliest hostess of all – Mrs. Claus! Delight in the reading of holiday classics and singing of Christmas carols while enjoying cookies and milk. ($)
- Christmas Carousel & Potomac Train Ride- This activity is designed for children under 42 Inches only. ($)
- Cirque Dreams Unwrapped- This is a really neat high-flying holiday adventure filled with dazzling set designs, Broadway-style theatrics and out-of-this-world acrobatics. (Complimentary first come limited seating or purchase reserved seating in advanced.)
- Scavenger Hunt- Purchase an activity book and set off on a scavenger hunt. At the end of your adventure stop by the box office to claim your prize. ($)
- Build A Bear- Choose from all kinds of furry friends, fill them with stuffing and make a wish on a heart at our exclusive Build-A-Bear Workshop. ($)
- Breakfast with Charlie Brown-This one-of-a-kind, interactive character breakfast includes a delicious buffet as you hang out with Lucy and Charlie Brown. ($)
TIPS FOR ICE!
- Ways to save- Military Discount are offered, get discount codes by following the Gaylord National Resort Facebook Page or catch a deal on Groupon.
- Bundle Up- I’m sure it’s obvious that it will be cold. The ice needs to stay frozen! You will be provided with a warm blue parka with a hood. However, I highly recommend you bring along a hat, glove, and scarf. Be aware that the parkas do not have pockets, YOU WILL NEED GLOVES! They are for sale in the Christmas Village gift shop if you need a pair. Parkas come as small as size 2T. I recommend baby wearing your smallest baby and get a slightly bigger parka to button over the baby.
- Bright Colors- Since every visitor is wearing the same blue parka; you will need a way to set your kids apart. I put my children in bright colored hats to make them more distinctive.
- Don’t Rush- Over the years I have learned to take my time. If your kids have the attention span for it, visit each exhibit and admire what you see. Make conversation about what you see and take photos.
- Interactive Exhibits- One of my kids favorite part of the adventure is the slide and tunnels. Take your time on these. You can go down the slide as many times as you want. Veterans tips, have one adult stays at the top and the other stay at the bottom to keep an eye on the kids. There is an attendant at the top to help as well.
- Take Photos- Keep in mind that your camera or phone could freeze. That be said, I would take my camera out periodically to snap a few memorable shots.
- Skip the stroller- If you have a little one, keep in mind that strollers are not permitted in the ICE! exhibit. There is stroller parking outside the entrance. I recommend baby wearing for this one.
- Take advantage of parking validation. Park in the garage and you can validate your parking ticket for $16 to park for the entire day.
- Cirque Unwrapped- There are typically 2-3 shows a day. This is a complimentary show; however, seats do go fast. You can purchase seats; however, that can get pricy for families. We lined up for complementary first come first serve tickets around 5:30 PM for the 7:00 PM show. Once we had a ticket we walked around the shops for a bit and than came back in line around 6:30 to get a seat. The show was a lot of fun and I recommend seeing it.
- Check out the full range of Christmas on the Potomac events at Gaylord National Resort to ensure you hit all the extra activities!
BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE…CHRISTMAS ON THE POTOMAC
National Harbor hosts a year-round line up of amazing events and super-fun activities for families — right on the gorgeous waterfront. See the Christmas on the Potomac Calendar for more information, dates and times of weekly events. Mostly every Saturday throughout the holiday you can catch Santa on the Carousel and at the Capital Wheel. As well as, see free movies, witness the spectacular tree lighting and view fireworks presented by DARCARS.
There are so many scrumptious restaurants. While we were visiting Christmas on the Potomac we ate at Red Stone Grill. The ribs and rotisserie chicken are amazing. Not to mention the kids menu is great and comes with a cool activity to keep the little’s entertained. I also always enjoy the view from the table.
You know the drill…like, comment and share! One lucky winner will be randomly drawn to win two tickets to see ICE! (The tickets can only be used on January 1, 2019 10:00 AM tour) Playful Parent Fans are invited to enter by commenting on: the article, Twitter, Instagram or Facebook posts! You may enter once on each platform! Contest closes November 22, 2018 at 12 PM… Winner will be announced on Thanksgiving November 23, 2018.
***Thank you for taking the time to read this article; I hope that it was helpful to your family. The Playful Parent is a non-profit 501c3 that provides free resources to the community. The Playful Parent is NOT paid to promote events or attractions. I would like to thank Gaylord National Resort for donating the tickets. All content and photography are intellectual property of The Playful Parent.***