Central Park Ice Festival

I used to live in Cleveland, and Cleveland in January is what one might call “peak winter”. The cold from the lake was brutal, and working downtown meant being directly subjected to lake effect snow and subzero windchill temperatures. Winters often lasted from November to April. New York City winters are mostly mild by comparison, which is likely the only reason why I would turn to Justin and say, “Let’s go to the Central Park Ice Festival! That sounds like fun!”

The Ice Festival is an annual event organized by the Central Park Conservancy.  At the Naumburg Bandshell, park visitors are treated to a live, on-site carving (usually involving a chainsaw!) by Okamoto Studio, a custom ice studio based out of Long Island.  The studio, a design collective originally founded by father-son team Takeo and Shintaro Okamoto, is known for working its magic with crystal clear ice.  Besides performing at previous festivals, Okamoto Studio has also lent its talents to Barney’s holiday windows and numerous private events.

Central Park Ice Festival - Mad Hatters NYC BlogCentral Park Ice Festival - Mad Hatters NYC BlogDuring the Ice Festival, the ice sculptors from Okamoto Studio are tasked with creating a replica of one of Central Park’s many bronze sculptures.  Last year’s event was cancelled due to inclement weather, so it was completely serendipitous that we finally made it out to the festival only to discover that this year’s replica was of the park’s Alice in Wonderland statue.  The bronze statue by José de Creeft was a gift by philanthropist George Delacorte, whose wife used to read the book to their children.  We obviously have our own attachment to Lewis Carroll’s tome.

Central Park Ice Festival - Mad Hatters NYC BlogCentral Park Ice Festival - Mad Hatters NYC BlogCentral Park Ice Festival - Mad Hatters NYC BlogWe arrived towards the later part of the event, after the sculptures had already been completed. At a balmy 45 degrees, the ice was melting pretty fast.  But the mild weather made the Silent Disco a hit, and we saw many getting down to the DJ’s tunes.  (On a funny note, a silent disco isn’t really silent: most of its participants are singing to the music. It kind of feels like group karaoke, which carries it’s own charm.)  It was a little crowded for our liking, but it’s no wonder why.  One couldn’t ask for a nicer winter evening to check out some art, sample some food truck fare, and then dance it all off in Central Park.  It’s the makings of a classic New York City adventure.

Pair it with:


Central Park Ice Festival - Mad Hatters NYC BlogCentral Park Ice Festival - Mad Hatters NYC BlogAmorino rose gelato cone via Mad Hatters NYC BlogPerson in fuzzy hat eating Amorino rose gelato cone via Mad Hatters NYC BlogNow, I often wax poetic about how much I love this city, but you might be surprised to find out that I’m otherwise quite unromantic.  I despise Valentine’s Day and all the standard cliches that come with it.  Justin and I often laugh when my family texts to wish us Happy Anniversary because more often than not, we’ve forgotten.  We believe one has to be accountable in a relationship every single day, not once or twice a year.  I think volunteering to take out that really horrible, disgusting, ripe bag of trash says “I love you” more than a bouquet of roses.  BUT, if I were to ask for a rose, it would be one made out of ice cream.  

Ice cream roses have had their day (and then some!) on Instagram, and here it is, finally making an appearance on our blog.  I was introduced to Amorino by friends in London many years ago, and was thrilled to later discover it here in New York City.  It’s still one of my favorite gelato spots in the city.  And if I’m dressed for an Ice Festival, it means I probably have enough layers on to tackle a cone in the cold.  Winter be damned.

Multiple locations

– L.

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Aaw, this was very sweet. Happy Valentine’s Day! I really didn’t think this event would happen this year after the cancelation last year. But I heard that it was packed. I’m glad you got such good pictures of it and gelato.


your take on V Day – delightful – eating gelato in winter – not for me. 😉


My favorite part of Valentine’s Day is when you make reservations (way ahead of time) at a nice restaurant. Then when you get there you find out they have replaced the menu (which has what you want) with their special VD menu that costs way more and has a lot less options. Lol! L, the picture of you holding the ice cream rose is priceless. Great post, L & J!


Love your comment about “volunteering to take out that really horrible, disgusting, ripe bag of trash says ‘I love you’ more than a bouquet of roses.” It’s so, so true! Marriage is all about the millions of tiny ways you say I love you, from running out at midnight to pick up cough drops for your sick spouse to allowing them an extra 10 minutes of sleep in the morning while you get breakfast ready. I agree 100% that every day is an “I love you” kind of day, and it’s the smaller gestures that are sometimes the most thoughtful.… Read more »

Menaka Bharathi

Wonderful event! Happy Valentines day to you! Things this interesting really gives us a relief from daily routine.

Tiffany E.

I’ve lived in New York for 14 years and haven’t heard about the ice festival. That shows how much I try to stay in during the winter. 🙂

The Humble Fabulist

Aha! I knew it the moment I read about the theme this year, that we should expect a post from the Mad Hatters 🙂 The gelato was a bonus!


I’ve never heard of a Silent Disco before! That’s a neat concept. I would be interested in attending one someday. I love seeing ice sculptures – such talented artists!