A few years ago, as many of you will probably remember, an epidemic struck the world: a little something called “Frozen Fever.” It seemed like everywhere you turned there were little girls with sparkly blue dresses and long blonde wigs belting out that song you couldn’t escape from even in the privacy your own mind (I’m looking at you, Adele Dazeem). But in the endless sea of Let It Go covers, I came across one particular rendition by Alex Boye and the One Voice Childrens Choir that really stood out.
Not only was it a very cool version of a freakishly catchy song, but the setting of the video was spectacular! I remember thinking, “What the heck is that?! I need to go there today.” What it was is Ice Castles, a temporary attraction built by creator Brent Christensen and a team of ice artists each winter in different locations all over the country for visitors to explore and experience. While I was disappointed to find out that the Ice Castle featured in the video was located in Utah (and I wasn’t getting there anytime soon!), I was ecstatic to learn that there was an Ice Castles location in nearby Lincoln, NH.
After staring longingly at their amazing Instagram feed, I was determined to see it in person and now that we’re living in Boston (only 2 hours away), I finally had the opportunity to go.
There are a few very important things you should know about visiting Ice Castles. First off, you have to buy your tickets online ahead of time. When you buy a ticket, you are given a 30 minute window during which you are expected to arrive. Once inside the castle you can stay as long as you’d like,but there is no re-entry allowed once you have left the venue. They technically do sometimes sell stand-by tickets on-site, but only if they aren’t sold out online (as they often are) and its at your own risk. Better to plan ahead and get them online, that way (weather permitting) you’re guaranteed entry.
After checking in at the window, we were given a handy little brochure with a map of the castle then we got to go in.
Made of over 12,000 tons of ice and weighing a staggering 25,000,000 pounds, walking into Ice Castles was an experience unlike anything I had ever had before. Its built using a unique process where professional ice artists grow, harvest, and meticulously place by hand between five and ten thousand icicles each day forming the framework of the castle. Then water is poured over the structure, freezing over the icicles to create a massive tower, colossal arches, sweeping cascades and an intricate ice maze. They also have two ice slides, a large one for all ages and a kiddie one (pictured above) for those too young to tackle the big slide.
I loved how organic the ice looked and how around every corner was something different to explore. It was also lovely, in todays technology-focused world, to see so many families out enjoying the sunshine and playing in the snow.
We timed our trip so we’d get into the ice castle just before sunset so that we could see it during the day and at night. We were there roughly 2 hours or so and it was definitely cold! Be sure to dress warm and I would definitely recommend wearing snow boots. The ground is covered in crushed ice and could potentially be slippery. We also brought along some hand and foot warmers which were a lifesaver, so I would definitely recommend packing some of those!
No outside food or drink is allowed inside the attraction but luckily, if you’re feeling a bit chilly, you can warm up with a hot chocolate from their snack stand located near the exit.
For many visitors, a trip to the Ice Castle wouldn’t be complete without going down the big ice slide which takes you on a fast-moving ride through a glowing ice tunnel that deposits you over by the ice throne (more on that later). That was the only part of the attraction where there was a long line, but its worth the wait.
As the sun began to set, we were treated to a dazzling view of the light reflecting off the ice. You could also feel the growing anticipation in the air as everyone waited for it to get dark and the Ice Castle to come to life.
For an added bit of magic, thousands of LEDs are frozen inside the ice and at night they light up the castle, causing it to glow from within. If you can only visit at one time of day, I would wholeheartedly recommend going at night. It is a completely different experience seeing the ice shift through all the colors of the Aurora Borealis in time with an orchestral musical soundtrack playing from cleverly hidden speakers. I mean, look how stunning it is.
Besides the tower, my favorite part of the castle was the ice maze. While not very large, the twisting tunnels featured a ceiling comprised of dangling icicles which, when lit, was particularly breathtaking.
Another wonderful feature of the ice maze is the series of ice tunnels for kids to crawl through. Such a fun idea!
On the other side of the arches, the view was no less spectacular. The slides were even more magical at night and the ice throne I mentioned earlier was a popular spot for photo taking.
Visiting Ice Castles is something I will never forget and I will definitely be back next year!
For a more in depth look at how Ice Castles are built, check out this amazing timelapse video of the creation of the Midway, Utah Ice Castle!
Hours and dates change due to weather and other factors. It generally runs from December to March.
2017 Season Ticket Price: $12.95 ea.
64 Railroad St
Lincoln, NH 03251
There is a dedicated parking lot at the entrance to Ice Castles with helpful staff who will direct you.