Where can you see stunning ice sculptures, play games made of ice, then watch professional ice carvers compete in a lively competition? The Meltdown Winter Ice Festival in Richmond, Indiana! The biggest festival of the year embraced by the entire town! Gorgeous ice sculptures pop up throughout town, while local businesses and restaurants host themed events and other specials throughout the week. This free event attracts thousands of visitors, including many families, to enjoy the festivities. There is lots to see and do, but here are ten that you can’t miss during a visit to the Meltdown Winter Ice Festival. This post is in partnership with Visit Richmond. As always opinions are our own.
Watch Ice Carvers Transform Blocks Of Ice Into Masterpieces
Gather around as professional ice carvers shape blocks of ice into works of art right before your eyes. Ice carving can be spotted up and down Main Street throughout the duration of the festival. Of note, the majority of the ice carvings happen during the weekend, particularly on Saturday. I highly recommend taking time in the afternoon to stroll Main Street to see all the great carvings and maybe grab a cup of tea at the Tin Cup. In the event the weather isn’t cooperating they do move the ice sculptures into refrigerated trucks overnight. Check the schedule of events to find when and where the ice carvers will be.
Try An Ice Luge During The Frosty Mug Pub Crawl
There is a Frosty Mug Pub Crawl to kick off the weekend of the Meltdown Festival! Those daring enough to partake have to visit four of five locations with their punch card to receive the highly sought after Frosty Mug. Many of the bars and locations participating in the crawl had an ice luge which is a must! An ice luge is an ice sculpture that has a narrow channel where a liquid is poured. Usually, this liquid is a specialty shot or liquor: The ideal way to kick start our Meltdown weekend! The pub crawl lasts for two hours, and as such, we only managed to venture to two spots. We are hoping they extend it so that partakers have a little longer at stops.
Catch A Fiery Performance at the Meltdown Winter Ice Festival
What is an ice festival without a little fire? Enjoy a fire performance by professional fire breathers and fire jugglers. It is hard to not stand in awe of the performers as flames circle all around them in a fiery halo. The fire performances are held at Jack Elstro Plaza right in front of the stage. This event does tend to draw a crowd so arrive a little early to get a good spot, especially if you have little ones in tow.
Play A Game Of Ice Corn Hole
During the afternoon, guests can try their hand at classic games made of ice. Try your hand at a game of ice corn hole or test your skills over ice checkers. Scattered around the Jack Elstro Plaza you can find couples, families, and friends in a friendly competition at an assort of games make of ice. Plinko was fan favorite, along with a race track to see whose car could make it down the ramp the fastest. Throughout the Plaza, you can find ice sculptures, food, restrooms and more.
Zip Down A Slide Made Of Ice
The line to go down a slide completely made of ice was longer than the hot chocolate line. Kids were squealing as they slid down the ice slope at rapid speeds. Once they reached the end they immediately ran back in line time and time again. I even saw a few adults get in on the action. Keep in mind that you may want to make sure your child has snow pants on otherwise they will have one cold and wet bottom.
Get Inspired By Magical Snowflakes On Main
Lining Main Street inspirational snowflakes can be found with uplifting and positive messages. The snowflakes are visible from the outside of the local businesses. I always am a fan of supporting local business so we made it a point to go into a few of the stores and look around. I left with a pair of souvenir gloves, perfect to remember the Meltdown by. The Magical Snowflakes also hold a secret message. Pick up a passport and record the colored letter found on each snowflake. Unscramble them to reveal a secret message and get entered to win some amazing prizes.
Discover Ice Sculptures Throughout Town
As you explore the sights of Richmond keep your eyes open for ice sculptures. A fun train ice sculpture was found by the old railroad station with an assortment of others outside restaurants and stores. A unique way to see the town of Richmond is by taking a self-guided mural tour. This tour will take you through town admiring the creative spirit of the artists who painted the town with fun and festive murals.
Nosh Your Way Through An Assortment Of Local Food Vendors
Ice cream during an ice festival might seem crazy but it is a popular booth at the Meltdown Winter Ice Festival. Local favorite Ullery’s was serving up frosty cones while those seeking a warmer alternative could be found at Roscoe’s. These were just two of many local food vendors who were serving delicious eats.
Cheer On Your Team At The Meltdown Fire And Ice Competition
This is the highlight of the Meltdown Winter Ice Festival. The Meltdown Throwdown has world-class ice carvers competing for the sacred golden chainsaw and the bragging rights that come with it. There are two teams, Fire and Ice, and the crowd cheers on their favorite. Once the sculptures are complete the crowd chooses the winner! Watch the ice fly as the competition gets underway in an event unlike any other. Get caught up in the excitement to cheer your team on to victory.
Listen To Music At The Meltdown Winter Ice Festival
Starting Saturday afternoon up until the big competition local churches and businesses host local musicians. A set schedule can be found online however we noticed that many of the local restaurants and bars also had live music on their agenda. From choirs to soloists, there was something for everyone to enjoy.
Tips For Attending The Meltdown Winter Ice Festival
- Dress for the weather. It should go without saying that you should be prepared to stand outside for a few hours in the middle of January. It was a chilly 30 degrees and snowy which was the ideal weather for an Ice Festival. However, I did not come prepared and froze. Learn from my mistake: wear boots, thick socks, jeans, and multiple layers. Bring gloves, a hat, a scarf and whatever else you need to stay warm.
- The weather can have an impact on the festival. High temperatures and rain can delay or cancel select events.
- Come early to get a spot for the Throwdown Competition. This is the main event of the festival which starts to fill up about an hour prior.
- There are fireworks! There are a few fireworks to kick off the Throwdown Competition and again at the end.
- Whether you are watching them while they carve on the street or at the after-party, take a moment to let them know what a great job they are doing. These ice cravers have great stories about how they started in ice carving and where it has taken them.
- They have a fun frozen fairy trail for the kids. Other great kid events were meeting Elsa in her igloo and a fun Hayes Hike and Chocolate at the Hayes Arboretum.
- Get to the Jack Elstro Plaza early to have your pick of the ice games. As the afternoon went on the crowds increased.
Where To Stay In Richmond, Indiana for the Meltdown Winter Ice Festival
There are plenty of great lodging options in Richmond from a Best Western to the most darling AirBnBs. We had the opportunity to stay at the most charming Airbnb called Abington Cottage. This three-bedroom cottage is ideal for families, couples and girlfriend getaways. The spacious rooms, a full kitchen, game room and inviting patio area will make it hard to leave. Rates are very affordable and it is only minutes to town. In the event, this beautiful cottage is booked consider looking at the nearby Bed and Breakfast and hotels.
More Great Things To Explore With Visiting Richmond, Indiana
Richmond is a small town that is packed with history. Here are a few of our recommendations to check out during your visit.
- The Tiffany Stained Glass Trail- This gorgeous self-guided tour will take through four sites each home to an impressive collection of Louis Comfort Tiffany Stain Glass. A highlight of the tour is the Reid Memorial Presbyterian Church.
- Antique Alley- There are two different antiquing trails that will take you throughout Wayne County on pursuit to find the perfect relic of years gone by.
- Levi and Catharine Coffin House- Known as “Grand Central Station” of the Underground Railroad take a tour of this historic home and learn about how this couple helped hundreds of freedom seekers.
- Chocolate Trail- Kids and Adults alike will enjoy sinking their teeth into this trail.
- Wayne County Historical Museum- From mummies to stagecoaches this museum is always a popular attraction.
We would like to send a special thank you to the Wayne County Tourism Board for sponsoring our visit so that we could attend this great event.
There are tons of great festivals in Indiana. Another one of our favorites is Porchfest which is held annually in Hamilton County, Indiana.
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Meltdown Winter Ice Festival