I’m a big proponent of Christmas timing. That means that the Christmas season doesn’t start until the day after Thanksgiving. That’s when the decorations can start. That’s when the Christmas music can start playing. That’s when everything becomes holly jolly.
But darn it if my schedule didn’t get thrown off again this year. Gaylord National in National Harbor, just outside of Washington, DC, invited me to their influencer preview event to see their annual ICE! show.
If you haven’t seen it before, it’s a sight to behold. For weeks, blocks of ice are impeccably carved into beautiful holiday displays based on the theme for the year. Without knowing the theme or anything about the show this year, Evan and I set off to see what holiday surprises were in store.
And then it happened… I decided to put on Christmas music in the car on the way there. And we sang to all of the songs for the hour plus ride. That festive feeling was creeping in.
After parking, we made our way to the specially themed breakfast buffet where we had our fill of eggs, waffles, song, and dance. And I even made Evan pose for a few “embarrassing” photos.
With our full bellies, we were off to brave the ICE! show. If you’ve never been, Gaylord provides you a blue parka to wear into the 5 degree temperatures to observe the ice sculptures (check out the hashtag #blueparka to see others’ experiences). If you think that’s enough to keep you warm, think again. Plan to spend a good 30 minutes in the ice tent and dress appropriately. This year, we were prepared with sweaters, winter coats, gloves, hats, and neck warmers. And FINALLY – we weren’t cold!
It’s a good thing, too, because we absolutely loved the nostalgia of this years Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer theme. If you’ve ever seen the famed Christmas special on TV (and how could you not?), you’ll love the scenes they’ve recreated.
Another reason you’ll want that blue parka is for the ice slide in the middle of the show. It’s a slide for all ages but you’ll definitely need to sit on the parka or else you won’t be going anywhere on that slide!
And when you’re nearing the end, Gaylord is always sure to remind you of the real meaning of Christmas with a beautifully carved nativity scene out of clear ice.
So what do you do when you’re done? Warm up! Just a caution – you might need to let your electronics warm up too. My phone died halfway through the show because it was just too cold!
We headed into the Christmas Village where we turned in our blue parkas and warmed up with hot cocoa. Then we spent a relaxing hour or so doing one of our favorite things – decorating a gingerbread house together! We spent so much time working on it that we had at least five people stop to look at our creation. We’re so proud of it!
There was still more to do if we were looking for more fun. From carousels to miniature trains to indoor “ice” skating, there’s something for everyone in the family including a place to visit Santa.
And, yes, there’s a place to shop too. They have a wonderful Christmas shop at the exit of the Christmas Village with a Build A Bear Workshop – take a look at my Blue Parka Polar Bear!
Admittedly, we didn’t listen to Christmas music on the way home but it certainly got us ready for the holiday madness that is to come. My only advice is to go early in the day. By the time we left, the line to get in was not short! It’s definitely worth spending an entire day there or even planning a fun holiday weekend if your plans allow.
And if you didn’t get enough of a feel for everything at the Gaylord, here’s a video to show you how much fun we had!