Please keep in mind that the Ice Castle is different each year and even evolves throughout the season. The pictures are just a sample of what you might find when you go to explore.
Last weekend, we bundled up and made our way up to Lincoln, NH. We weren’t skiing, or skating, or snow tubing. We were up there to visit the newly opened Ice Castle. It’s definitely a site to see!
The first thing I have to say is that I expected caves. Based on the name and all of the pictures, that’s what I had in my head… a series of caverns to roam through with some open areas. There aren’t really a lot of caves. It’s more like an open area with walls of ice and a couple of cave-like areas. But of course, it’s always growing and changing, so who knows what you’ll find when you arrive.
So, mild cave disappointment aside, the whole thing is pretty amazing. The Ice Castle in Lincoln is over an acre, and it’s incredible to see. The whole idea came from a dad decorating his icy yard for his kids. I hope they appreciate what a cool dad they have!
The kids’ favorite part was the tunnel slide. I don’t know how many times they went through it and there was always a little line of kids waiting to go.
Note to adults. It’s not a huge tunnel. The average adult will probably fit, but use good judgment. We witnessed a dad trying to go down with his son on his back. They got stuck and had to back out. You have been warned.
There’s also a smaller tunnel for crawling through. This is nice for the younger kids who are afraid to go down the slide alone. Bigger kids liked it, too.
We ran into one of the guys who helps build the Ice Castle and he explained the process to us. Once we learned how this is built, we were even more impressed. Keep your eye out for one of the guys wearing an orange helmet and ask them any questions you have. You might even catch them building!
So, they use metal frames to “grow” icicles. They then harvest the icicles one by one and place them in insulated bags. They take the bags out with them and place each icicle on the castle using icy slush. Each icicle is placed by hand.
A whole bunch of icicles sticking out of the ground wouldn’t be all that impressive, though, so here’s the secret. Each formation has a sprinkler inside. At night, they turn on the sprinklers and that allows the castle to “grow.” The picture below is a great example of what that looks like. Those rounded caps are where the water has frozen and more has dripped down. It creates all of these beautiful hanging icicles.
I highly recommend visiting during twilight/sunset. A lot of people wait until night to go, or visit during the day and then come back at night, but seeing the sunset around the Ice Castle structures is really beautiful. And, yes, once you’ve entered, you can come and go throughout the day. Enter during a low-peak time (i.e. earlier in the day) so you don’t have to wait in line when it’s most crowded.
At around 5 or 5:30, the lights come on and everything takes on a beautiful glow. If you’re there, like we were, before it’s completely dark outside, you can get some really beautiful images.
This is the center of the Ice Castle. It’s an actual fountain that cycles through various colors and it greets you as it enters. It’s funny to see a water fountain in the middle of the winter.
The Ice Castle is truly more magical at night. They say that they use different lighting schemes each year. It was our first visit, but the colors often cycled from white to blue to purple and green.
It’s prettier at night, but it’s also a lot more crowded. There’s plenty of room, but expect longer lines. And it’s obviously more difficult to get an unobstructed photo! You can get a sense here of how much space there is to walk around, though.
One thing to note is that the ground is icy. They have chopped it up, scored it, and made it as safe as possible, but it’s still slippery. I don’t recommend it for people who are unstable on their feet and I suggest wearing your boots/shoes with the best traction.
The Ice Castles are expected to be open through mid-March, but you should check the website before you go. If it’s too warm, they may need to close or wrap up the season early. Ice and weather are unpredictable like that. If you buy tickets in advance (highly recommended), they are good for a period of time, so you can make a last minute decision about the weather and such. It’s nice to have that flexibility.
The Ice Castle in Lincoln, NH is open Monday-Thursday (closed on Tuesdays) from 3pm-9pm., Friday from 3pm-10pm, Saturday from Noon to 10pm and Sunday from Noon to 8pm.
Don’t forget to bundle up, put kids in snow gear (for sliding purposes), and plan accordingly for cold weather. We were there for a couple of hours, but I’d say most families will be there for an hour or two at most, especially if it’s really cold.
Tickets for the Ice Castle have changed since we visited, so please check their site for updates prices.
Ice Castle Lincoln
64 Railroad St
Lincoln, NH 03521
There are also Ice Castles in Utah, Vermont, and Minnesota.
Disclosure: We received tickets to facilitate this review. There was no additional compensation and all opinions are my own.