I’ve been wanting to check out the Lake Louise Ice Magic Festival for years. It’s a celebration of winter whose crowning glory is the display of professionally-carved ice sculptures arrayed on the shore of Lake Louise beside the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. This year the festival was extended because of demand, so we packed up yet again and drove west for the final Little Chippers weekend.
It was a weekend of snow, ice, cold, smiles, more snow, wine, whine (kids), cold toes, brandy hot chocolate, a 45-minutes wait for a “parrot” balloon animal, more wine, lots of giggles and yet even more snow at Lake Louise Ski Area. Through it all prevailed a kind of ice magic, thanks to the Chateau’s fairy-tale setting and our kids’ awe over ice raptors, ice castles and ice queens. Here are the highlights.
1. Ice skating with the Ice Queen around the Ice Castle. She was carved from a block of ice and came to life … blah, blah, blah. Avery missed the finer points of her story but enjoyed skating with her highness.
2. The Ice Playground. Located in a corner of the Lake Louise Village parking lot, I didn’t have high hopes for this sad-looking outdoor ice rumpus room at first glance. But as ice makes things cooler and more slippery, the ice tunnel and slides were a hit. So was the Little Chippers ice carving station, where children could don goggles and a pick and attempt ice art.
3. Lakeside sleigh ride. Granted, at an hour, it’s about 40 minutes too long for my kids. But the jingle of bells and hypnotic sight of falling snow mesmerized us and prevented a melt-down. Tip: don’t sit near the front: Parks Canada stipulates Brewster (the company that runs the tours) catch the horses’ poop in a manure catcher lest it litter the national park. Hence a ripe smell accompanied the lovely sights and sounds.
4. Eating my son’s New York Steak. We ordered Bennett the $11 New York Steak “For the Young Adult” at the Glacier Saloon inside the Chateau. The server even asked us how our four-year-old “would like his steak cooked?” Why, medium rare, thanks. Predictably, Bennett didn’t like the meat, eating only his French fries. OMG it was delish, cooked perfectly for any parent to enjoy. Tip: always order steak off the kid’s menu to save money.
5. Riding the Lake Louise gondola. Ever since the magic carpet (MC) at Fernie last weekend Bennett has been talking about wanting to ride a chairlift. So, after making him take the Lake Louise MC — with skis on — and then “ski” down the bunny hill (with Blake’s help, of course) onto the gondola we walked. He quivered with excitement and said, “We go up mountain, mommy?” Forget the Ice Queen, he was King of the Mountain for 24 minutes.