How Gaylord National ICE! Will Make You Create New Holiday Traditions

ICE! at the Gaylord National is the perfect place for your family to experience a unique holiday celebration.

While my family had holiday traditions and my husband’s family had traditions, we hadn’t fully created a tradition for our family together. Until this year and our holiday getaway to jump into the holiday spirit at the Christmas on the Potomac at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center.

Our lifestyle is busy like most families and we spend a lot of time on the go. It seems counterproductive but for us being away home is the easiest way to make sure we carve out dedicated quality time. During our visit to the Gaylord National, we were able to truly focus on all the Christmas magic with a special experience at their ICE! attraction featuring the theme of Christmas Around the World. After watching videos and looking at pictures, my family couldn’t wait to experience it for ourselves.

All About ICE!

ICE! is a walk-though winter wonderland carved from literally more than two million pounds of colorful ice produced by the Gaylord Hotels. Each of the four properties has their own theme and crew of master ice carving artisans from Harbin, China (located in Northeast China near Siberia in an area that stays below freezing for almost 6 months) who come in October to spend a month working on the display. The other Gaylord resorts are the Gaylord Opryland in Nashville, TN; Gaylord Texan in Grapevine, TX; and Gaylord Palms in Kissimmee, FL.

From the first moment we walked in, the Gaylord National proved that they are ready for Christmas. Their lobby was beautifully decorated with Christmas trees but the centerpiece is really the suspended Christmas tree in the center of the Atrium. Day or night, it’s really a magical site. Honestly, as we drove into the area we were able to see the glittering tree from across the Potomac River like a beacon light attracting us to the Gaylord. It sounds cliché but it really is that impressive.

The Christmas Tree at the Gaylord National for the ICE! attraction is true marvel.

The Christmas tree from the bottom looking up.

After a great night’s sleep in one of the Atrium facing rooms, my family was ready to take on a visit to the ICE! attraction as well as the Christmas Village. To get familiar with everything that was happening in the Christmas Village, we did a quick walk through but my family was ready for ICE! I explained to my son’s that ICE is kept at a balmy nine (9) degrees but they didn’t really understand just how cold that is real time. ICE! provides blue parkas for everyone and as soon as we were suited up, we jumped right in.

Short version: ICE! in person is even more amazing than it sounds. There are several areas in the world of ICE! that showcase the diversity of the artisans.  The first is a display of Christmas around the world and has carvings depicting children from different countries along with a story of how Christmas is celebrated there. The second is the huge ice slide followed by Santa’s workshop and finally a Nativity scene.

One of the Christmas Around the World displays at the ICE! attraction in Gaylord National.

One of the Christmas Around the World displays at the ICE! attraction in Gaylord National.


The ICE! at Gaylord National offers several different photo opportunities; all made of ICE!

There are tons of photo opportunities inside. This whole display was made from ice!

Here’s my video from inside that shows the two story ICE! slide. Forgive me for rushing but it was COLD. I do know I’m from MN but I couldn’t keep my gloves on and use my phone, so it was cold.

My favorite part of the exhibit is the Nativity Scene. It is absolutely breathtaking. All the ice is a clear white and the lights are dimmed with strategically placed spotlights. It’s a great way to focus on the true meaning of Christmas.

The Nativity Scene at Gaylord National ICE! from 2016 #ChristmasonThePotomac

The Nativity Scene at Gaylord National ICE! was one of my favorite parts of the attraction. 

Best thing about ICE: I said several times that ICE! was cold however you’re not limited to walking through once! My family left to warm up and came back in a few times. We walked through once and then came back to really focus on the areas that we wanted to spend time on. My boys took a few slides down on the ice slides before leaving and then coming back in for a family picture. We spent almost 2 hours in/out.

The Blue Parkas at ICE! Gaylord National fit everyone.

Fully suited in our blue parkas, we could come in and out as we wished.

While ICE! is the centerpiece, it is not the only attraction at the Gaylord National for Christmas on the Potomac. There is a full Christmas Village that we took advantage of. My boys rode on the carousel, teacups and Christmas train before we decorated Ugly Christmas sweater cookies as a family. They even made their own stuffed animals at the Build-A-Bear Workshop onsite. Not to mention, the shopping area with really unique holiday décor.

The Gaylord National has an Elf on the Shelf scavenger hunt and Build a Bear workshop onsite.

He was working on the Elf on the Shelf scavenger hunt with his new friend Chewy from the onsite Build-A-Bear Workshop.


Who does love a ride on the carousel in the Christmas Village at ICE! Gaylord National

Who doesn’t love a ride on the carousel?


Meeting the Gingerbread Man at the Christmas Village at Gaylord National.

Meeting the Gingerbread Man at the Christmas Village at Gaylord National.

When the lights go down, the holiday celebrations don’t stop. The atrium comes alive with two different musical celebrations on the hour in the center of the Atrium. We were able to sit on our balcony and watch the show while we ordered room service. It was the perfect ending to a full day.

Our holiday staycation at the Gaylord National was a gift to our whole family and really helped set the tone for our holiday season. It reminded my husband and I that one of the biggest gifts we can give our children is the time we spend rather than hurrying around to get the perfect gift. Staying on the property breaks our family out of the normal routines and patterns of being at home together but in different rooms.

Getting away ensures that our family spends time together and I’m really thinking that this will become a tradition for my family over the years. I plan to make sure we get at least one night of holiday fun that is dedicated to our family.

If you’re looking for a special experience for your family, be sure to check out the Gaylord National or one of the other Gaylord properties. ICE! will be open at all four of the resorts through January 1. It will be an awesome place to spend family time throughout the holiday season.

How the Gaylord National helped my family create new holiday traditions during a staycation and visit to ICE! at Christmas on the Potomac.


  1. says

    Great post! I visited last year with my then-boyfriend and loved the ice sculptures but honestly could not get over how cold it was lol mid-way through I was rushing to see everything just to get out of there! Looks like you all had a great time.

  2. says

    That looks like so much fun! I’ve also found that sometimes you have to get out of your normal routine and environment to just focus on being together. I have never traveled for Christmas, but I will probably start once mt girls get older.

  3. says

    My son and I have been visiting ICE! at Garylord Palm for years. It’s one of our favorite holiday traditions. We have also visiting the one at Gaylord Texan. It’s cool to see the different them for Gaylord National since this year’s theme at Gaylord Palm in Orlando is Charlie Brown.

    • KendraKendra says

      I really want to visit the Gaylord Palm next year. Hopefully, I’ll plan early enough for us to go and visit more than one next year.

  4. says

    Thank you for this post. I don’t live in this area so I’m low-key jealous right now. It looks like your babies had a great time. It’s always refreshing to see posts like that. This place is beautiful. I’m glad that you all had a great time!

    • KendraKendra says

      All the more reason to visit the DC area or find another location near you. It really was wonderful weekend getaway.

  5. says

    Wow! That ice display looks awesome. This is my first year hearing about the display. It looks like your family had a great time. Thanks for sharing your experience.

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