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Gaylord artisans hard at work for 2017 edition of ICE!

Posted on Monday, November 6, 2017 at 1:51 pm





By Peter Covino

A&E Editor

It is a festival unlike any other.

Every winter, hundreds of artisans carve a magical ice fairyland in China at the Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture.

Central Florida gets a bit of that magic every year as well at Ice!, the ice spectacular at the Gaylord Palms Resort in Kissimmee.

Gaylord staff gave some 40 Chinese artisans a rousing welcome last week after their arrival at the hotel before they settled down to work transforming tons of ice into yet another dramatic display for this year’s Ice! event.

You can marvel at the work and artistry that comes into each one of these astounding creations, but until you step inside the giant refrigerated tent that houses the unmolded blocks of ice, its hard to really understand the magnitude of the annual event.

You can see the completed masterwork for this year’s Ice!, themed Christmas Around the World, in about another month. Ice! returns Nov. 21 and continues through Jan. 7 at Gaylord Palms.

If you haven’t been to Ice! in awhile, the event, and the holiday in general, have become a much bigger event than it was during its first few years. Gaylord officials now call it the “Everything Christmas in one extraordinary place,” event.

Starting with Ice!, this year’s frozen showcase will celebrate the diverse holiday traditions from the United Kingdom, Mexico, Germany and more.

“We’re excited to bring this theme to Central Florida especially since the Orlando area hosts millions of visitors from around the world each year,” said Johann Krieger, general manager for Gaylord Palms Resort. “We feel this year’s Ice! theme and our other holiday events embrace cultural diversity and our unifying similarities, celebrating love and peace during this special time of year.”

Gaylord Palms will be putting out the welcome mat for both overnight visitors and day guests during the holidays. Many events are free. There is a fee for parking at the resort. Note: If you dine at one of the Gaylord restaurants, you can get parking validation.

One of the new events at the resort for 2017 is the Sounds of the Season Concert Series. The series includes a capella concerts from the Gaylord Palm STARS; Orlando Gay Chorus and local group Voctave. There also will be a special performance of Amahl and the Night Visitors performed by Opera Orlando, Orlando Philharmonic and the Orlando Ballet.

Tickets for each concert start at $29.99 plus tax and are held onstage in the St. Augustine Atrium. Tickets include a visit to the Ice! attraction as well.

Concert tickets are on sale now at

Another new addition for 2017  is the Christmas Tree Trail. Set inside the Everglades Atrium, the Christmas Tree Trail features nine different trees, provided by Balsam Hill, adorned with decorations honoring the culture and tradition of various countries including Brazil, China, Italy and more.

Another new free event is geared just for kids. The Reindeer Express Post Office lets kids jot down their top Christmas wishes on a post card before entering the post office, then watch their post cards get stamped and prepared for delivery via a special scan. The card even gets returned as a keepsake of the visit.

Returning with all new performances this year is Cirque Dreams Unwrapped. The returning show will feature all new acts, artistry and costumes on the stage atrium.

Another must stop on a visit to the resort will be Joyful, a new multi-sensory experience surrounding the focal point six-story Christmas tree. There is holiday music along with millions of dancing, choreographed lights during the nightly shows.

Other returning favorites include Breakfast With Charlie Brown & Friends at Villa de Flora restauarant. The morning buffet includes the character greets and the dishes are all themed after the Peanuts characters, such as Charlie Brown’s Build Your Own French  Toast Station.

Other Ice! attractions include the Alpine Village, with seasonal food, beverage and shopping, as well as photos with Santa.

Holiday enthusiasts just might want to make a real holiday out of the trip and opt for an overnight stay. One-night packages start at $240  and include Ice! and more.

For additional information and to book packages or tickets, visit christmas

Special Ice! ticket rates also are available to groups of ten adults or more.