Family, Outdoors, Travel

Explore this frozen ice castle in New Hampshire

In this January 2019 photo, Bruce McCafferty and his son, Dougie, pause while exploring the ice formations growing at Ice Castles in North Woodstock, N.H.
In this January 2019 photo, Bruce McCafferty and his son, Dougie, pause while exploring the ice formations growing at Ice Castles in North Woodstock, N.H. Photo: The Associated Press

By Jennifer Huberdeau
NORTH WOODSTOCK, N.H.

Wish you could travel to Arendelle to visit Elsa’s castle made of ice?

While a trip to the fictional icy home of Disney’s “Frozen” franchise isn’t possible, the next best thing, Ice Castles, is just a drive away, in North Woodstock.

There, a glowing castle of ice awaits, with frozen thrones, towers and archways (all embedded with LED lights) that twinkle to music at night. Ice-carved tunnels and slides wait to be climbed and explored.

And what’s more? The popular tourist attraction, returning to New England for its sixth year, will add an enchanted forest walking path where guests will find ice sculptures and unique photo opportunities.

Do we dare ask if it’s worth the trip? (It’s just over 2 hours from Brattleboro, and slightly over 31/2 hours from the heart of the Berkshires.)

“Yes,” said Stephanie Martin, of Cheshire, Mass., who made the drive with family last year. “It was magical, charming, ice-cold and imaginative, like something out of a children’s book.”

In this January 2019 photo, McKenzie Lalumiere of Chelmsford, Mass., photographs Ice Castles in North Woodstock, N.H.
In this January 2019 photo, McKenzie Lalumiere of Chelmsford, Mass., photographs Ice Castles in North Woodstock, N.H. Photo: The Associated Press

The New Hampshire Ice Castles experience is one of six sites in North America. Other locations can be found in Utah, Colorado, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Alberta, Canada.

While each property’s look is unique, the towering, walk-through castles all share similar characteristics. According to Ice Castles, each castle is about 1 acre in size, takes two months to construct and requires about 25 million pounds of ice to construct. Each ice castle is built by hand, with construction teams of 20 to 40 artisans involved in the creation of a single location.

And each castle is built using the same process — each day of construction involves growing 5,000 to 12,000 icicles (a proprietary process developed by Brent Christensen, lead artist and architect). But that’s where the similarities end.

Each location’s appearance and end result is impacted by icicle placement, temperature, water volume and wind, resulting in an astonishing and ever-changing variety of ice formations.
“We’re excited to see what Mother Nature helps us create this year,” Ryan Davis, Ice Castles CEO, said in a news release. “We look forward to bringing new winter experiences to New Hampshire and giving our guests even more unique ways to make winter memories together.”

IF YOU GO …

What: Ice Castles

Where: 24 Clark Farm Road, North Woodstock, N.H.

When: Early January through late March (weather-dependent)

Hours: 4 to 9 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday; 4 to 10:30 p.m. Friday; noon to 10:30 p.m. Saturday; closed on Sunday and Monday.

Admission:
Weekdays: $16.99, ages 12 and older; $11.99, ages 4 to 11.
Friday and Saturday: $20.99, ages 12 and older; $14.95, ages 4 to 11

Ice Castles New Hampshire returns to North Woodstock, N.H., for its sixth season.
Ice Castles New Hampshire returns to North Woodstock, N.H., for its sixth season. Photo provided by Ice Castles

Jennifer Huberdeau is editor of UpCountry magazine. She also pens the column “Mysteries from the Morgue” for The Berkshire Eagle.

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