‘Twas the Night Before Christmas in ICE! at the Gaylord National

The atrium at the Gaylord National. Photo: Gaylord National

The atrium at the Gaylord National.
Photo: Gaylord National

From indoor snowfalls and a 60-foot-tall glass Christmas tree to 12 miles of dazzling lights and icy renderings of favorite characters and scenes, the Gaylord National Resort is the D.C. region’s “Capital of Christmas.” The sixth annual Christmas on the Potomac is a 52-day celebration that runs from Nov. 15, 2013 to Jan. 5, 2014 at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland (just a bit south of Washington, D.C.).

The Gaylord National - on the banks of the Potomac River at National Harbor.

The Gaylord National – on the banks of the Potomac River at National Harbor.                                                              Photo: Gaylord National

In addition to the festively decorated resort, Gaylord puts an extra focus on Christmas with ICE! ICE! is a walk-through wonderland of expertly carved ice sculptures and scenes from favorite stories, movies and books such as Dr. Seuss, Charlie Brown, Shrek and Madagascar. This year, the Gaylord is going back to the classics with an all-new theme of ‘Twas the NIght Before Christmas.

I’ve had the honor of seeing How the Grinch Stole Christmas and Shrek the Halls in ICE! and I’m super excited for this year’s ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas theme.

Here are a few favorite shots from past ICE! attractions…

Shrek the Halls in ICE! - 2012

Shrek the Halls in ICE! – 2012

Puss tips his Santa-inspired hat.

Puss tips his Santa-inspired hat.

Shrek and his trusty steed, Donkey.

Shrek and his trusty steed, Donkey.

The ogre youngsters - Fergus, Fargo, and Felicia.

The ogre youngsters – Fergus, Fargo, and Felicia.

New for ICE! 2013 at the Gaylord National:

  • A brand-new ICE! theme:  the classic holiday poem ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas.
  • ICE! is larger than ever before and will feature an all-new bonus scene: “Christmas in New York City.”
  • ICE! moves to a new location connected to the Gaylord National Resort – guests will access the attraction from inside the hotel’s 19-story atrium.
  • For overnight guests of the Gaylord Resort, the “Christmas on the Potomac” Hotel Package provides exclusive unlimited anytime admission to ICE! throughout the guest’s hotel stay.

You do not have to spend the night to attend the ICE! attraction, but if you do, I give it a two thumbs up. I had an awesome time when I was there. It’s really cool to look down on the atrium area and fountains from the room. The rooms are beautiful. And there is an indoor pool!

‘Twas the Night Before Christmas in ICE! is hand-carved from more than two-million pounds of colorful ice (and kept at a balmy nine degrees). Clement Moore’s classic Christmas story comes to life in life-size, hand-carved ice sculptures. The exhibit will feature scenes such as Ma in her kerchief and Pa in his cap as well as nestling children (complete with sugar plum visions dancing in their heads) and Saint Nick and his eight tiny reindeer. Guests can even zip down 20-foot-tall ice slides.

New for 2013 is a bonus scene depicting “Christmas in New York City” with a larger-than-life interactive area that brings to life the famous sights and sounds of the Big Apple at Christmas time. There is usually a beautiful nativity scene and angel sculpture, created out of crystal clear ice, at the end of every ICE! exhibit.

ICE! Angel

ICE! Angel.

Nativity in crystal clear ice

Crystal clear ICE! nativity scene.

Christmas Family Fun at the Gaylord National

  • Gingy’s Gingerbread Decorating – This sweet and fun decorating tradition is hosted by Gingy from Dreamworks Animation’s “Shrek.” Guests can choose to decorate a gingerbread family, a Christmas tree or a house. After decorating, meet Gingy for a super sweet hug and photo op.
  • Potomac Express Train Rides – Kids can take a ride on a winter-themed miniature train in the Gaylord National’s beautiful glass-enclosed atrium.
  • Photos with Santa Claus – Kids can meet Santa and have their photo taken.
  • Tree of Light – The Gaylord National’s Christmas tree is a one-of-a-kind work of art made of synthetic “candy” glass. Hanging from the atrium, it stands 60-feet tall and weighs 7,000 pounds. By day, it is a spectacular stained-glass piece of art. By night, special lighting effects make it glow brilliantly.
  • Nightly Tree Lighting Show – Every night, the atrium comes to life with a Tree Lighting Show that features holiday music, lights and a dancing fountain that shoots multi-colored water 60-feet high.
  • Holiday Fountain Shows – Hear a heartwarming narration of the classic Christmas story as choreographed water dances to music during the Brightest Star Fountain Show, and enjoy both modern and classic Christmas carols as an indoor snowfall occurs in the 72-degree atrium during the Sounds & Songs of Christmas Show.
  • Nightly Indoor Snowfall – Snow in a 72-degree atrium is the highlight of every night at the Gaylord National. This indoor flurry occurs twice every night.
  • DreamWorks’ Madagascar Crack’ A Lackin’ Cook-in Character Breakfast – Following their circus adventures in the latest film, the Madagascar gang is ready to party. Guests can join King Julien, Alex the Lion and their friends at a feast fit for a jungle king. The breakfast buffet menu features Madagascar-themed items and desserts.
  • DreamWorks-Themed Scavenger Hunt – The whole family can take part in a scavenger hunt throughout the spectacular indoor gardens of the Gaylord National on this fun, interactive scavenger hunt (self-guided). Follow the clues and search high and low to solve the puzzle.
  • Surprise Meet & Greets with the DreamWorks Characters – Guests will be surprised when their favorite DreamWorks Animation characters from “Kung Fu Panda,” “Madagascar” and “Shrek” appear in unexpected places throughout the hotel for hugs and laughs. Daily (free).
  • Seasonal Spa Treatments at Relâche Spa – Celebrate the holidays and pamper yourself with very merry spa treatments for men and women.
Gaylord National's 60-foot tall glass Christmas tree.

Gaylord National’s 60-foot tall glass Christmas tree.

Gingy joins in for breakfast. Photo: Gaylord National

Gingy joins in for breakfast.
Photo: Gaylord National

It is not necessary to spend the night at the Gaylord National in order to enjoy the frigid fun of ICE! and many other of the Gaylord’s activities and events. If you are interested in spending the night, there are packages available to make your ICE! experience even more memorable and relaxing.

 Overnight Hotel Package

The “Christmas on the Potomac” overnight package at the Gaylord National:

  • New for 2013: Overnight package guests will enjoy exclusive unlimited anytime admission to ICE!
  • Availability: Select dates from November 15, 2013 through January 5,2014
  • Duration: one night (extra nights are available).
  • $100 Resort Credit to use on-site for purchases of DreamWorks Experience activities, dining or season spa treatments. Some restrictions may apply.
  • Souvenir family photo (one per room)
  • Packages start at $269 (plus tax, fees and ticket handling fees) for two people.

For reservations, please call 301-965-4000 and provide code “1GC” or book online at ChrismasOnThePotomac.com.

ICE! Details

  • ICE! event dates: Friday Nov. 15, 2013 to Sunday, Jan. 5, 2014
  • Operating Hours: Open daily, hours vary daily – please see the operating calendar on the Gaylord website.
  • Ticket Prices: Adults (ages 12+) start at $22, Kids (ages 3-11) start at $15, Kids under age two are free. Prices do vary depending upon the day and time frame.

To purchase tickets to the Gaylord National’s ICE! event, please visit ChristmasOnThePotomac.com or call 301-965-4000.

ICE! attractions at the other Gaylord Resorts include:

Visit the Gaylord Resorts online for more information on ICE!, events and packages.

Here are a few more ICE! photos …

How the Grinch Stole Christmas in ICE! - 2010

How the Grinch Stole Christmas in ICE! – 2010

The grinchiest of grins.

The grinchiest of grins.

The Whos asleep in their bed.

The Whos asleep in their bed.

For even more photos and icy fun, check out these articles …




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