Day Trips: Ice Land, Moody Gardens, Galveston

Ice sculpture is the coolest show on the island

Photos by Gerald E. McLeod

Moody Gardens, on the tropical island of Galveston, hosts the region's chilliest holiday reception.

Through most of the year the resort is home to waterslides and wave pools, but during the holiday season the Aquarium, Rainforest, and Discovery Pyramids are connected by a walkway of colorful lights and an ice house of frozen figures with a 30-foot ice slide.

Inspired by the giant ice sculpture festival in Harbin, China, Moody Gardens brings an award-winning team of artists from China to work with 2 million pounds of colored ice. Using chain saws and ice picks, the carving team creates a gallery of penguins, whales, bears, reindeer, and, of course, Mr. Claus in his sleigh.

Building this massive sculpture of more than 100 creations begins in February when an ice plant in Bryan starts freezing the 6,000 blocks of ice weighing 300 pounds each. By September the team of 25 Chinese artists begin methodically chipping away at the blocks for the November opening.

Guests wander through the frozen maze in the specially designed insulated tent at their own pace. The thermometer is set at a chilly 9 degrees, making the aptly named Shivers Bar with stools and tables made of ice an unusual place to enjoy a frosty adult beverage. The park provides guests with heavy parkas to wear in the the walk-in freezer, but it's a good idea to bring a warm hat and gloves.

During the holidays, the park's grounds are decorated with colorful lights. The perfect time to visit is in late afternoon when you can best enjoy all the holiday treats.

Moody Gardens' Ice Land continues through Jan. 6. For more information, go to

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Moody Gardens, Galveston, Ice Land, ice sculptures, Harbin, Shivers Bar

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