EXCELSIOR — It’s official: The Ice Castles will not be returning to Excelsior this winter.
Ice Castles LLC announced Friday, Nov. 1, that the popular winter attraction will be built about a 40-minute drive northeast from Excelsior, at Long Lake Regional Park in New Brighton, this year.
“We are thrilled to bring the magic of Ice Castles back to Minnesota this winter,” Ice Castles CEO Ryan Davis said in a news release. “Long Lake Regional Park is a great, convenient location just 20 minutes north of both downtown Minneapolis and downtown St. Paul. The scenic park on the banks of Long Lake also makes for the perfect backdrop for our winter experience.”
The Ice Castles event was held on The Commons in Excelsior last winter, bringing in $122,904 to the city through combined revenues from a special event permit, water consumption and parking meters. Local businesses, especially restaurants, also enjoyed increased revenue thanks to the influx of visitors during the Ice Castles' run.
“Excelsior is a wonderful community, and Ice Castles had a great season there. However, the location created some unique challenges for us, so ultimately, we made the decision to explore other possible locations,” Melissa Smuzynski, who handles marketing and public relations for Ice Castles, said in an email to Lakeshore Weekly News on Oct. 3.
Before Excelsior, Ice Castles was held in Stillwater for two winters (2016-17 and 2017-18) and before that, it was in Eden Prairie. This is the first time the attraction will be held in New Brighton.
Earlier this fall, there was talk the Ice Castles would make its return to Stillwater, but the Ice Castles chose the New Brighton location instead.
Smuzynski said in an email to Southwest News Media on Nov. 1 that New Brighton was the best fit because it "allows us to create the best experience for our guests while minimizing the impact on the community."
"While Stillwater has been a wonderful partner in the past, it recently came to our attention that Lowell Park has a higher flooding risk, which could be detrimental to the structures of Ice Castles and the equipment used to create the winter experience should it flood during our season," Smuzynski said.
Construction of the Ice Castles is set to begin in Long Lake Regional Park in early November, with the attraction expected to open in early January, weather permitting, the release said.
The Ice Castles website is icecastles.com/minnesota.