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December 09, 2023

Where Every Family Matters

ICE! Returns for Gaylord’s 40th A Country Christmas

Kicking off Nov. 10, this year's brand new ICE! theme will be "The Polar Express" told through hand-carved ice sculptures.

Get ready for the chillest event of the holiday season, ICE!, returning to Gaylord Opryland as part of its 40th annual A Country Christmas event beginning November 10, 2023 through January 1, 2024.

Using more than two million pounds — or 1,000 tons — of ice, the resort will debut a brand-new ICE! theme, The Polar Express, based upon the beloved Warner Bros. holiday film. The enchanting tale 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 a brand-new Christmas dinner show and a variety of festive activities, including ice skating, ice tubing, visits with Santa and Mrs. Claus and more. 

Guests entering ICE! featuring The Polar Express embark on a magical adventure to the North Pole — all while learning about friendship, bravery and the spirit of Christmas. The attraction features nine scenes in hand-carved sculptures made of ice, including:

  • The Polar Express arriving at the Hero Boy’s house
  • passengers sipping hot chocolate on the train
  • the Glacier Gulch experience as the train is rushing down the side of the mountain
  • the arrival at the North Pole

For the first time ever, the attraction will feature five, two-story interactive ice slides, which is more than past exhibitions. Colored ice, clear ice and LED lights are all used to create the display. 

In addition, guests can also traverse through ice tunnels and arches, along with visiting the carver showcase where guests can watch artisans perform live carving demonstrations. 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.

Behind the ICE!

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 chilling system that maintains the attraction’s temperature at nine degrees Fahrenheit. Guests can sport a signature blue parka to stay warm. 

The carvers will travel more than 6,402 miles from their homes in Harbin, China, to Nashville. Known as “Ice City,” Harbin is home to the world’s largest annual ice and snow sculpting festival in the world. At Gaylord Opryland, 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, chainsaws and hand-made tools to bring The Polar Express to life.

“It’s very special to debut a brand-new ICE! theme during our 40th anniversary of A Country Christmas,” said Tom Petrillo, General Manager and Managing Director of Gaylord Opryland Resort & Attractions. “We are thrilled to bring our guests a fresh and exciting experience during the holidays this year.” 

2023 Gaylord Opryland ‘A Country Christmas’ Offerings:

  • Darryl Worley & Friends: Home for the Holidays is the resort’s brand-new dinner show. Guests will enjoy a three-course dinner  followed by live entertainment by Darryl Worley and friends
  • Guests can venture throughout the resort to help Snoopy deck his house out for the Doghouse Decorating Competition in the Merry Snoopy Christmas Scavenger Hunt
  • Breakfast with Charlie Brown & Friends – a breakfast experience with visits from members of the Peanuts gang like Charlie Brown, Lucy and Snoopy
  • Delight in the retelling of ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas, sing along to favorite holiday songs and share a batch of Santa’s Christmas cookies and milk during Mrs. Claus’ Christmas Traditions
  • Pinetop activities include ice tubing down a 15-foot-high, four-lane ice tubing hill, a classic bumper car experience, Snowball Build & Blast where guests can throw real snowballs at interactive targets, ice skating or ice skating lessons and the Merry & Bright Skating Spectacular live show
  • Christmas creativity runs wild in the Gingerbread Decorating Corner
  • Capture the moment with a keepsake photo by Storibox during the Photos with Santa experience
  • Guests can hop aboard Nashville’s famous 300-foot paddlewheel riverboat, the General Jackson Showboat, for the Tennessee Christmas lunch cruise or the Music City Christmas dinner cruise
  • Hop aboard the Delta Riverboat Christmas Cruise to explore the 12 Days of A Country Christmas while cruising down a river inside the Delta Atrium.
  • Visit the Build-A-Bear Workshopto experience thefun of personalizing furry friends and taking part in our one-of-a-kind Heart Ceremony 
  • Other outdoor activities include the resort’s Christmas lights displayed on the Magnolia lawn, a nightly tree lighting and caroling event, Dickens Carolers, carriage rides and a Nativity display
  • Holiday dining experiences include A Country Christmas Breakfast Show
  • Inside the resort, Old Hickory Steakhouse will host a Thanksgiving day and Christmas day brunch and Gaylord Springs Golf Links will also host a Thanksgiving day brunch
  • Relâche Spa inside the resort features Winter Wellness spa treatments

ICE! Signature Package Perks

ICE! Signature Packages include one room night accommodations and ICE! tickets (plus a package option to also include SoundWaves). All overnight guests will enjoy additional perks, including: 

  • Complimentary “Chill Pass” privileges to ICE! offering front-of-line access and shorter wait times. *Attraction tickets are required and sold separately, in advance.
  • Complimentary “Extra Cool Hour,” which provides early-entry into ICE! one hour before it opens to the general public. *Attraction tickets are required and sold separately, in advance.

For capacity management and to ensure an enjoyable environment, resort access will be guaranteed after Noon CT for overnight guests and indoor/outdoor ticket reservation holders only every Friday, Saturday and Sunday during A Country Christmas as well as daily November 20-23 and December 15-31, 2023. Visitors without room reservations or ticketed event reservations should arrive on site prior to Noon CT on the aforementioned dates and are welcome to enjoy the rest of the afternoon and evening on property. Visitors without room reservations or ticketed event reservations can also visit any time of day on November 13-16, November 27-30, December 4-7, and December 11-14, 2023, or January 1, 2024.

For Gaylord Opryland A Country Christmas event tickets or more information, visit ChristmasatGaylordOpryland.com.

 

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About the Author

Michael Aldrich

Michael Aldrich is Nashville Parent's Managing Editor and a Middle Tennessee arts writer. He and his wife, Alison, are the proud parents of 4-year-old Ezra and baby Norah.