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What has two million pounds of ice, two-story ice slides, and is kept at a chilly 9°F? Gaylord Texan Resort’s ICE! featuring The Polar Express™.

Whether you’re the person who peruses holiday décor and listens to “Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer” as soon as kids go back to school in August, or the person who only heeds to the Christmas spirit after Thanksgiving, it doesn’t matter. This is your holiday Super Bowl.

All the frozen magic is crafted by more than 40 ice artisans. Didn’t know ice artisans were a thing? You’re not alone. As it turns out, it’s a legacy skillset that’s been passed down for generations in Harbin, China, colloquially known as “Ice City” and host to the biggest ice and snow sculpting festival in the world.

For the first time since 2019, the artisans are traveling 7,000 miles away from home to Grapevine, the Christmas Capital of Texas®, with their icy chisel, chipper, tong, handsaw, grinder, and chainsaw talents in tow. While Gaylord Texan has put on ICE! 16 times since its debut in 2005, this year is the first to feature an interpretation of the holiday classic, The Polar Express™. The story and the characters will be brought to life through whimsical sculptures.

ICE! is the pillar feature of Gaylord Texan’s Lone Star Christmas, but it is festooned with holiday programming aplenty throughout the 125-acre resort all season long. Behold breath-taking stunts, acrobatics, and contortions during the theater-infused, live show Cirque: Winter Wonderland, catch the awe-inspiring light show synchro-

nized with high-energy music during the resort’s nightly Shine Light Show, or stroll around Merry & Light, an experience filled with larger-than-life décor and the latest technology in Christmas lighting. Basically, one-ofa-kind photo ops galore.

For something more interactive, guests can try their hand at three winter-themed escape rooms, barrel down the eight-lane, two-story snow tubing hill covered in real snow, take aim at interactive targets with a bucket of real snowballs, take a turn on a carousel, or glide around the resort’s 6,000 square foot ice-skating rink. You can also ensure your Christmas shopping is done at Emporium in the Village, which is filled wall-to-wall with toys, ornaments, home décor, and so much more.

As if that’s not enough, you can be a part of “Team Santa” and learn from his top toymakers at the Elf Workshop, where you can make a special keepsake or craft to take home, or head to the Gingerbread Decorating Corner to try your hand at some edible architecture and snap a photo with Nutmeg the Gingerbread Man. Charlie Brown and Friends™ make an appearance at Gaylord Texan this holiday season, too, with breakfast with your favorite characters and a Merry Snoopy Scavenger Hunt, where you help Snoopy decorate his dog house by way of, you guessed it, a fun scavenger hunt. Last, meet the big guy himself to ensure your spot on the Nice List. Santa will be on site to meet families Nov. 11Dec. 24 before heading back to the North Pole in preparation for his annual night of gift giving.

Listen, sometimes we get snow in Texas in the November-January range, but I wouldn’t hold your breath. Instead, head to ICE! at Gaylord Texan, because it’s a sure, Christmas thing Nov. 11-Jan. 1, 2023. The resort invites you to come “freeze the day” with a promise that “yule be amazed.” See what they did there?

Should you want to make an overnight of it, Christmas at Gaylord Texan offers packages that include room rates and admission to select events. Booking early is highly recommended as admission is limited to many of the experiences and shows. To get 50%

off tickets purchased online to ICE! featuring The Polar Express™ and Merry & Light on select dates, use

promo code “KEY” at checkout. See magazine cover for details. For more information and to reserve your slice of holiday magic, visit

Bailey Powell Aldrich

A seventh generation Texan, Aldrich returned home to her roots in 2022 to work alongside her father, Keith, and take over the family business of publishing Fort Worth Key Magazine.

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