The Mayville Ice Castle: A Festival in Mayville, NY

Updated on February 12, 2020
leahlefler profile image

After working as a chemist at a biotechnology company, Leah now enjoys writing about science, gardening, and travel.

President's Day Weekend Winter Festival

The Mayville Ice Castle in 2010
The Mayville Ice Castle in 2010 | Source

The Mayville Ice Castle Festival

In the small town of Mayville, New York, President's Day weekend brings a festive atmosphere of winter celebration. The Mayville Ice Castle Festival (officially coined the President's Day Weekend Winter Festival) takes place alongside Chautauqua Lake in Western New York, and is filled with fun activities for children and adults. The Winter Festival will take place on February 14-16, 2020. Due to an unusually warm winter, a snow castle has replaced the traditional ice castle for the 2020 event.

The Mayville ICE (Ice Castle Extravaganza) Festival contains an ice castle, polar bear swim event, ice skating on the lake (weather permitting), a kid's sledding track, a chili cookoff, snowmobile rides, horse-drawn sleigh rides, and more. My family and I try to make it to the festival every year.

The Polar Bear Swim

In order for the Polar Bear Swim event to take place, ice must be removed from the lake surface. The ice is often over a foot thick during the month of February, and the water temperature is just above freezing at the time of the swim. The depth of the Polar Bear swimming hole is 4-7 feet, so participants get a full-body soaking after cannon-balling or diving into the icy depths. Participants must register prior to taking part in the Polar Bear swim activity by filling out a form on the official Mayville President's Day Weekend Winter Festival website. The swim typically takes place on Saturday during the event.

Mayville Ice Castle

The ice castle is made from blocks of ice harvested from Chautauqua Lake.
The ice castle is made from blocks of ice harvested from Chautauqua Lake. | Source

The Ice Castle

The Mayville ice castle is formed by cutting blocks of ice from Chautauqua Lake. Chainsaws are used to cut each 22" x 48" block, and a pole is used to move the cut blocks along the surface of the water. An ice hook attached to a winch lifts each ice block out of the lake onto a chute, depositing the ice blocks on land near the ice castle.

A crane lifts each ice block onto the ice castle, where volunteers position and cement the ice blocks into place. It takes approximately 900 man-hours to complete the Mayville ice castle, and the labor force is composed of volunteers from the local community. While the ice castle dimensions change slightly every year, in 2010 the Mayville ice castle was 12 feet high along the outer walls, with a 25 foot high central tower.

A grand lighting ceremony is held the first evening of the Mayville President's Day Weekend Winter Festival event. The castle is lit up with an automated light show, which includes several different colors.

Building the 2011 Mayville Ice Castle

Activities for Families with Children

There are many activities to delight families with children of all ages. The area around the ice castle is often decorated with a showcase of ice carvings and snowmen, which infants and toddlers enjoy greatly. 

A kid's sled track is placed into the side of a massive pile of snow, allowing children to careen along a bobsled-like track around the side of the hill. Children who would like to participate in sledding activities must bring their own toboggans and sleds.

A cold water rescue demonstration will thrill preschoolers and older children, as the Dewittville Volunteer Fire Department uses a large hovercraft to demonstrate the rescue of a person trapped in cold water (this event takes place immediately after the Polar Bear Plunge event).

Horse-drawn sleigh rides are fun for the entire family, and take riders around the perimeter of Lakeside Park in Mayville. Bundle up and let the kids experience an old-time tradition at the Ice Castle Festival!

Snowmobile rides are also available for children and adults, for an additional fee. Jr. Snowmobiles and full-size snowmobiles are available for rides around a circular track. This event is sponsored by the Chautauqua Snowmobile Club and is an excellent opportunity to learn about the sport!

Sleigh Rides at the ICE Festival

Take a sleigh ride at the Mayville Ice Castle Festival.
Take a sleigh ride at the Mayville Ice Castle Festival. | Source

Sporting Activities at the Mayville Ice Castle Festival

The sporting activities change on a yearly basis, and are listed on the official website. Past activities have included:

  • Ice fishing demonstrations on Lake Chautauqua
  • Ice skating on Lake Chautauqua
  • Polar Bear Swim
  • Ice Hockey
  • Broomball
  • Tug-of-War
  • Snowmobiling
  • Dodgeball tournament

Ice Fishing on Chautauqua Lake

Ice fishing demonstrations at the Ice Castle Festival (weather permitting).
Ice fishing demonstrations at the Ice Castle Festival (weather permitting). | Source

Mayville Ice Castle Synopsis

The 2010 Mayville Ice Castle Lighting Ceremony

Food and Facilities

As the Mayville Ice Castle Festival takes place during the cold month of February, several sheltered locations are available for people to warm up after having some wintry fun. Large vendor and food tents are set up with heating and tables. Apples with caramel and whipped cream, fried dough, and other treats are available along with more substantial lunch and dinner fare. Various items are also for sale, from local artisans and craft vendors.

Restrooms are available in the Lakeside Park facilities, which are plentiful and clean. A playground is also available, so if the weather is cooperative, little ones can burn off some energy while their parents have a snack!

Proper Clothing for Visitors

Visitors to the Mayville Ice Castle should dress appropriately, Nearly all of the events are outdoors, and the weather is extremely variable in February (ranging from sub-freezing to a balmy 50°F). The lake is often a windy location, even when frozen - snow pants and ski jackets are recommended. Mittens and hats are a must! Be sure to dress small children warmly, and stop in the warm tents when needed.

Parking for the Ice Castle

Parking is readily available in pay lots alongside Rte. 394. The charges will vary, but generally run about $5 per carload. If parking across the highway, take care when crossing the potentially slick or ice-covered highway.

Location of the Mayville Ice Castle Festival

Mayville ICE Festival:
Lakeside Park, Mayville, NY 14757, USA

get directions

The location of the Mayville Ice Castle Festival is along the northern section of Chautauqua Lake, at Lakeside Park in Mayville, NY.

Questions & Answers

  • What time do things start on Friday at the Mayville Ice Castle?

    The Ice Castle Festival will start at 6 p.m. on Friday, February 15th, 2019.

  • When is the ice castle over in 2020?

    The ice castle (or snow castle this year) ends on Sunday, February 16, 2020.

  • Is there a parade at the Mayville Ice Castle Festival?

    There is not typically a parade associated with the Mayville Ice Castle festival, though there are many fun events throughout President's Day Weekend at the park adjacent to the ice castle.

  • Is the 2020 ice castle still going on in Mayville, NY?

    The 2020 Ice Castle was converted to a "snow castle" for the 2020 season. The festival was held, despite the lack of sufficient lake ice for the traditional ice construction.

  • My wife lost her keys there, is there a lost and found at the festival?

    I would ask at one of the main festival tents set up to see if anyone had turned in lost keys. There is not an official lost and found associated with the event, but if keys were turned in, they are likely at one of the main booths. I would also contact the Chautauqua Chamber of Commerce to see if there is a repository for lost items at the festival. They are open on weekdays and you may contact them using the following phone number: (716) 484-1101

© 2011 Leah Lefler


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • leahlefler profile imageAUTHOR

      Leah Lefler 

      17 months ago from Western New York

      The ice castle will still be standing until the weather causes it to melt away. If you would like to see it and missed the initial festival, make sure you get there within the first week or so after the event!

    • profile image


      17 months ago

      Can the public still come to see the ice castles

    • leahlefler profile imageAUTHOR

      Leah Lefler 

      5 years ago from Western New York

      Lee, it was -21F, which is -29.4c! It was very cold this winter - much colder than typical winters in our area. We often see weather at -5F or maybe even -10F, but we had one morning that was -40 (same in celsius and Fahrenheit) without wind chill! It was so bitterly cold!

    • traveleze profile image

      Lee John 

      5 years ago from Preston

      Hey leahlefler,

      Wow -21c!! God that's cold lol its not that cold in the UK only about 7-9c haha



    • leahlefler profile imageAUTHOR

      Leah Lefler 

      5 years ago from Western New York

      Hi traveleze! We usually visit the ice castle every year, but did not manage to this year. The weather was so brutally cold! It was near -20F on Sunday, so we avoided it this year. Hopefully we'll be back next year!

    • traveleze profile image

      Lee John 

      5 years ago from Preston

      Hi leahlefler,

      Amazing Hub i have voted it accordingly :) , Id love to visit this Ice Castle, I am from the UK but have family not far from this, Please check our my travel hubs and your feedback on them would be really appreciated :)

      Thanks Again


    • leahlefler profile imageAUTHOR

      Leah Lefler 

      6 years ago from Western New York

      I know the ice castle was still standing on Monday and on Tuesday (02/17/14 and 02/18/14), but I haven't returned to Mayville during the latter part of this week. The 40 degree temperatures and rain have probably made it unstable at this point in the year!

    • profile image


      6 years ago


      Is the ice castel still standing?

    • leahlefler profile imageAUTHOR

      Leah Lefler 

      9 years ago from Western New York

      Eiddwen, I am the same way. I love seeing travel photos from other places! I prefer tropical locations, probably because we live in the ice and snow, lol! It was 55 degrees today, so I hope the ice castle (2011) survives until the weekend! It is supposed to be 20 degrees on Saturday, so if it makes it until Saturday, it will survive the festival!

    • Eiddwen profile image


      9 years ago from Wales

      Hi leahefler,

      what a great hub. One of my favourite pastimes is armchair travelling so this was a treat for me.

      Thank you so much for sharing.

      Take care,



    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)