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Iceland at Moody Gardens, Galveston: Ultimate Guide 2023

Planning to visit the annual holiday event of Iceland at Moody Gardens in Galveston, Texas?

This amazing Galveston Island holiday event is finally back this year after a 2 year hiatus due to the pandemic.

The 2022 Iceland theme is a Caribbean Christmas and you can see colorful fishes and corals carved from ice at the festival!

Here’s everything you need to know about this famous Texan holiday tradition!

Also Read: 10 Best Things to do for Christmas in Galveston, Texas

What is Moody Gardens in Galveston, Texas?

Moody Gardens is one of our favorite attractions in Galveston, Texas.

Galveston is a beautiful, laid back island town with a festive fun vibe.

The large botanical gardens in the resort town are known for their conservatory that houses plants from all over the world, as well as their butterfly exhibit that features more than 1,000 live butterflies at any given time.

Also Read: 13 best Things to do in Galveston with kids

Moody Gardens Iceland is one of the best Galveston holiday attractions
Moody Gardens Iceland is one of the best Galveston holiday attractions

Visitors can also experience the largest man-made indoor rainforest in North America or enjoy some of its other exhibits including an aviary and an aquarium with sharks!

The gardens are located on beautiful property along Galveston Bay and housed in beautiful pyramids that are icons in themselves.

During the holiday season, Moody Gardens are home to several holiday events including the famous Festival of Lights and Iceland!

Along with the San Antonio Riverwalk Christmas Lights, Moody Gardens is the largest holiday destination in the Lone Star State.

Have kids who love trains? Read all about the Polar Express in Palestine, Texas here!

Moody Gardens Iceland Polar adventure
Moody Gardens Iceland Polar adventure

What is Iceland at Moody Gardens?

Iceland at Moody Gardens is a festival of beautiful themed ice sculptures.

The Iceland ice sculpture festival is an annual event that takes place in the winter.

It is held from the last week of November to the first week of January.

The event is inspired by the Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival in China, the largest festival of its kind in the world.

The ice carving team flies in from Harbin, China in September to create the beautiful sculptures at Moody Gardens Iceland.

The team carves over 900 tons of ice in ~1080 hours to create beautiful themed characters and structures each year.

The ice sculptures are housed in a 28,000 square foot insulated tent; inside temperature is maintained at 9F.

The event started in 2014 and has become one of the most popular Holiday attractions in Texas.

Also Read: Best Places to Visit in Texas in winter

Beautiful tropical waterfall at Moody Gardens Iceland in Galveston
Beautiful tropical waterfall at Moody Gardens Iceland in Galveston

Each year Iceland features different themes: 2016 was a Caribbean Christmas, 2017 was Rainforest Holiday, 2018 was Pole to Pole, 2019 was Christmas Around The World!

The event was cancelled in 2020 due to the pandemic as the master ice carvers could not fly in from China and the 2021 Iceland event was also cancelled for same reason.

However, all that’s behind us and the 2022 Iceland event is back with a bang!

The theme for this years Iceland is a Caribbean Christmas.

The ice sculptures this year will take you back to the tropical reef: expect colorful fish and corals, sunken treasures, and the occasional shark!

The event is bound to be spectacular and enchanting, so book your tickets in advance!

Moody Gardens Iceland doorway
Moody Gardens Iceland doorway

What to expect at Iceland in Moody Gardens

Here’s what all you can expect to see and enjoy at Moody Gardens Iceland event on Galveston Island near Houston, Texas.

Fantastic Ice Sculptures

The ice carving team creates spectacular sculptures from blocks of ice, tied with the year’s theme.

The family-friendly event that showcases the talents and skills of the artists.

Visitors can marvel at an assortment of shapes and sizes, including animals such as polar bears and penguins as well as majestic icy wonders including castles and bridges.

You will be walking over ice pathways, going through ice tunnels, and exploring rooms carved in ice.

Tunnel made from ice blocks at Galveston, Texas in winter
Tunnel made from ice blocks at Galveston, Texas in winter

Arctic Slide at Moody Gardens

The Arctic Slide is one of the main attractions of Moody Gardens during the holiday season.

This is a giant ice slide; visitors can climb to the top and then enjoy a trip down the slide!

The Arctic Slide has a gentle slope and is perfect for toddlers as well as preschoolers.

While Iceland won’t happen in 2021, the Arctic Slide attraction will be there!

Arctic Slide at Moody Gardens, Galveston during Christmas
Arctic Slide at Moody Gardens, Galveston during Christmas

Shivers Ice Bar

A perfect way to end the visit for adults is to grab a drink at the Shivers Ice Bar!

You can sit on bar stools and chairs made of ice and savor a vodka shot or a glass of beer from an ice glass!

If you prefer something hot after your Siberian adventure, buy some hot chocolate at the gift shop.

Tip: Consider adding a shot of Irish cream to your hot chocolate!

Entrance to the Shivers Ice Bar at Moody Gardens Iceland
Entrance to the Shivers Ice Bar at Moody Gardens Iceland

Tips to enjoy Moody Gardens Iceland

Visitors often underestimate how cold Iceland really is!

Here are a few tips to help you enjoy this Arctic adventure.


We recommend booking advance tickets for the holiday event, especially for peak dates.

The Holiday Pass, which includes combined tickets to almost eight holiday attractions, is a great way to save money.

Bar stools and table carved in ice at Moody Gardens Iceland
Bar stools and table carved in ice at Moody Gardens Iceland

Best time to Visit

Weekends mean long waiting times and lines – expect to stand in line for over an hour on busy days.

Avoid crowds by visiting Iceland early in the morning on weekends or on weekdays.

Also, consider visiting early in the season to skip crowds.

Penguins at Moody Gardens Iceland Pole to Pole
Penguins at Moody Gardens Iceland Pole to Pole

Entry process

Entry to Iceland is every 30 mins; the entire experience after you enter the tent also lasts about 30 to 40 minutes.

Visitors first stand in line to get tickets punched.

Then, you will be led to a waiting area where you can purchase gloves and hats if needed as well as watch a video about the making of Iceland.

After the video ends, you enter the second waiting area.

Here you will be provided with free parkas and get souvenir photos taken by the staff.

And then finally, it is time to enter Iceland!

Visitors are prohibited from touching the ice sculptures at Moody Gardens Iceland
Visitors are prohibited from touching the ice sculptures at Moody Gardens Iceland

What to wear to Iceland, Moody Gardens

The temperature inside the insulated tent which is home to Iceland is kept steady at 9F to not melt the sculptures.

This is extremely cold weather – and you need to be dressed properly to avoid freezing.

For reference, water freezes at 32F!

Moody Gardens provides free parkas to visitors.

However, you must take your own cold weather accessories such as thermal gloves, hats, and scarves.

Or you will need to buy them inside the attraction at expensive prices!

Wear closed shoes and warm socks.

Moody Gardens Iceland provides parkas to visitors but bring your own gloves and hats
Moody Gardens Iceland provides parkas to visitors but bring your own gloves and hats

Keep a box of Kleenex or other facial tissues handy – yepp, you will have runny noses – and also take along some hand warmers!

If you have kids, we recommend thermal layers and thick coats for them as the kids parkas don’t fit as well.

Other Things to do at Galveston for Christmas

Galveston Island is one of the best places to spend Christmas in Texas.

Besides Moody Gardens and it’s holiday attractions, Galveston also has many other Christmas events and festivities.

Moody Gardens Festival of Lights

Moody Gardens is home to several other holiday attractions including the Festival of Lights.

This popular festival features beautiful light displays, light tunnels, and more.

Visitors can walk along a mile-long path through Moody Gardens and enjoy the elaborate displays.

Visitors can also watch Rudolph as well as other holiday movies during the festival.

Tunnel of light at Moody Garden Christmas festival
Tunnel of light at Moody Garden Christmas festival

Dickens on the Strand

Step foot into Victorian London during the annual Dickens on the Strand Festival in Galveston.

The event features parades, costumes, and several events in the downtown historic district.

This is also a great time to enjoy holiday shopping and get gifts for the family.

Polar Express train ride

The Galveston Railroad Museum hosts the Polar Express train ride during the holiday season.

Based on the popular children’s book, the train ride includes a reading of the book, hot chocolate and cookies, dancing with the elves, and meeting Santa Claus!

Read more about the Galveston Polar Express experience here.

Popular Galveston Attractions

The city also has plenty of year round attractions.

From museums and galleries to live music and festivals, Galveston has something for everyone.

If you’re looking for some fun in the sun try exploring the beaches or enjoy some water activities in Galveston Bay.

Galveston is the perfect day trip from Houston – be sure to visit H-Town attractions such as Space Center and Museum District while visiting Galveston.

Galveston, Texas. Cityscape colors in spring season.
Galveston, Texas seen from the beach

Where to stay in Galveston

Moody Gardens Hotel itself is a great place to stay in Galveston and offers convenient hotel packages for your vacation.

However it can be expensive during the peak holiday season.

Fortunately, there are many other great places to spend the vacation in Galveston.

We love staying in Hotel Galvez & Spa or The Tremont House in Galveston. 

There are many other great hotels in the area as well as Airbnb’s and campsites.

We hoped you liked our guide to ringing in the holidays at Iceland in Moody Gardens!

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Ray Smith

Friday 25th of November 2022

We took our Great Grand Children to iceland 3 times before the pandemic. they enjoyed the ice slide. We took them Tuesday 11-22-2022 and no ice slide the advertisement talks about the ice slide. We were completely disappointed. It upset them. Next year we will take them some other place.