In early December, ice artisans began work on the thousands of icicles required to create the annual Ice Castles in Lake Geneva. I stopped by for a look. Now the castles are ready.
The castles open Saturday, Jan. 22 at Geneva National Resort & Club. You can buy tickets online here.
Here's a look at the ice castles being formed back in December.
After just two days, the castles at Geneva National are definitely taking shape.
What I hadn't realized was that there's plumbing inside the castles that leads to a series of sprinklers that not only help to create the castles' ice formations, but to keep them looking good during the season.
The spray from the sprinkler heads has also created funky little ice shapes on the surrounding grass that was fun to see.
Ice Castles Wisconsin Event Manager Wally Bullard, who walked me around the site, says that he's pleased with the progress so far and that the work is on schedule.
"It's looking really good for two days," he says. "We're doing as much as we can before (next week's forecasted) warm-up.
"We know that will happen with the weather and we do our best to navigate it."
The castles will be bigger this year thanks to work undertaken during the offseason by Geneva National to level out part of the slope on which the castles are located, Bullard says.
The ice – which will be at the not only on the slope but also at the top and bottoms of it – will have a "more immersive" design and there will also be sleigh rides along an illuminated path.
The giant man-made ice formations include towers and caverns and integrate slides, crawlspaces, tunnels and fountains.
Each year the specific opening date is weather dependent but the castles have typically been ready by the second half of January and usually remain viable through the end of February.
Tickets go on sale a week before the castles open at icecastles.com but a limited number of priority booking vouchers went on sale in December at the website for those who want to make sure not to miss out.
Bullard says sales of the vouchers has already been brisk.
Ice Castles first appeared in Lake Geneva in 2019. They moved from the lakeside beach to the current location the following year. This year there are similar castles in Utah, Minnesota, New Hampshire and New York.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.