Gaylord National Harbor ICE! 2015: Santa Claus is Coming to Town (and free fun, too!)

Christmas on the Potomac

The Christmas on the Potomac celebrations at Gaylord National, with the crown jewel being ICE!, are wonderful Washington holiday traditions to share with your family this holiday weekend and in the days leading up to Christmas.

My family and I have attended ICE! and enjoyed the holiday offerings for families at the Gaylord National Harbor Resort every year since it’s inception, and this year is especially magical. To experience ICE!, you walk through an ice wonderland village of over two million pounds of colored sculpted ice. Donning special blue parkas over your own winter clothing, you are protected from the sub-zero temps and you and your kids are able to comfortably take in the beauty of the frozen world. This year there are five different ice slides, and a new interactive ice sculpture theme, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, based upon the 45-year-old animated TV special.

ice slides at Gaylord

In addition to walking through the story of how Santa Claus started giving toys to good girls and boys, ICE! also features the artisans who create the attraction in The Frostbite Factory. There guests can learn how ICE! is made and see the ice sculptors carve their creations live. 

ICE! opens daily from Saturday, November 21 through January 3. Tickets start at $28* for adults ages 12 and older and $20* for children ages 3 to 11 during non-peak days; and $35 for adults ages 12 and older and $28 for children ages 3 to 11 during peak days. Kids 2 and younger are free. Military and group ticket pricing is available. Hours vary and can be found at There is also an exclusive A Parent in Silver Spring discount on non-peak days for ICE!, details here! ice collage

Additionally, there is free and just-a-few-dollars-fun to be had at Gaylord, in addition to ICE! New this year, visitors to the resort will discover a free, immersive way to experience a variety of the holiday offerings during Christmas on the Potomac. The Village of the North Pole, located in the hotel’s exhibit hall, provides all visitors with a decorated Christmas town square, complete with holiday merchandise, a hot chocolate stand, Santa’s sleigh for photographs and a brand new indoor carousel ride. The carousel costs $4 on non-peak days and $6 on peak days.

In the resort’s 1.5-acre atrium, children can jump aboard the Potomac Express Train for $2 per ride or $5 for three rides. Also is in the atrium, Santa is available for photos with families and children. Photo packages with Santa start at $34.99.

Families also can test their puzzle-solving prowess during The Elf on the Shelf Scavenger Hunt, featuring 10 of Santa’s scout elves who have landed at Gaylord National Resort. This new interactive event will lead guests on a journey to find the elves, reveal their names and help them get their Christmas magic so they can fly to the North Pole. All families that help the scout elves fulfill their special Christmas mission will receive a prize. The scavenger hunt costs $9.95.

Visitors also can experience a new Gingerbread Decorating Corner sponsored by PEEPS in the Village of the North Pole. Participants can choose to decorate a gingerbread house or family, as well as have the opportunity to pose for photos with the PEEPS Gingerbread Man. Gingerbread decorating kits start at $35.95.

gaylord carousel

Gaylord has this year debuted a new Christmas tree suspended from its 19-story atrium. This 4,000 pound Starlight tree is comprised of 50 five-point stars that represent America’s 50 states.  The tree topper displays one large star, signifying the Capital, Washington, D.C. The tree is wrapped in handmade texturized green fabrics and illuminated garland that are designed to coordinate with the hotel atrium’s evening light show.

gaylord tree

The new Christmas tree is the star of the hotel’s nightly holiday fountain show, Sounds and Songs of Christmas, that occur at 6, 7, 8 and 9 p.m. now through January 3, 2016. There is also indoor snowfall and gorgeous holiday music, and this spectacle is free to all. 

Additional holiday festivities include family overnight holiday packages, with admission to ICE! included.

And on Cyber Monday, Gaylord National Harbor will announce its lowest rates of the season. Book a getaway there at the lowest price possible!

Happy holidays, and happy ICE-ing!

This post was sponsored by Gaylord National Harbor. I received a press review of ICE! with my family as well as monetary compensation.


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