These Epic Ice Castles Near Boston Are a Must-See Winter Wonderland

Explore 25 million pounds of ice constructed into tunnels, slides, and towers.

Ice Castles
New Hampshire Ice Castles | Photo by Lee Denning, Courtesy of Ice Castles
New Hampshire Ice Castles | Photo by Lee Denning, Courtesy of Ice Castles

When the weather hits freezing, very few things could draw Bostonians out of their cozy apartments. But the opportunity to traipse around an epic ice sculpture may be one of them, and soon, you can do just that at the Ice Castles in North Woodstock, New Hampshire, just two hours outside of Boston.

The ever-popular winter attraction is now open for the season, and it’s one of the best things to do this winter. This year, the immersive winter experience features towers, tunnels, and tons of space to roam around the one-acre castle, plus a full slate of activities like horse-drawn carriage rides and snow tubing.

New Hampshire Ice Castles
New Hampshire Ice Castles | Photo by AJ Mellor, Courtesy of Ice Castles

The epic structure is made out of 25 million pounds of ice and takes thousands of hours to construct. From the outside, the castle looks a bit unassuming, but venture inside and you’ll find a labyrinth of towers to climb, tunnels to explore, and a couple of slippery slides—and to make things even more magical, the entire space is illuminated with colorful LED lights at nightfall.

Needless to say, IG opportunities abound, although your best selfie opportunity is atop the frozen throne. But if you want to get into something more active, the space also offers horse-drawn sleigh rides, snow tubing, a Mystic Forest walk, a private VIP alcove to book for special occasions, and new this year: an illuminated frozen fairy village as well as a separate ice sculpture garden.

New Hampshire Ice Castles
New Hampshire Ice Castles | Photo by AJ Mellor, Courtesy of Ice Castles

More than a decade ago, a Utahan named Brent Christensen reached World’s Best Dad status when he built his daughter an ice cave in their backyard, which soon attracted every kid in town—and their parents. Buoyed by that success, Christensen decided to commercialize his gifts, eventually patenting an ice construction method that involves vertically growing icicles by hand and then using said icicles to build a large-scale structure. Don’t believe us? Here’s a link to his actual patent, which details a simple method that has icicles slowly growing downward from an elevated plank.

Now as the ice artist behind the New Hampshire castle and other locations in Utah, Wisconsin, New York, and Minnesota, Christensen’s crews grow 5,000 to 12,000 icicles a day and these “farmed” icicles serve as the literal building blocks of his giant, interactive structures, stacked both vertically and horizontally and melded together by slush.

New Hampshire Ice Castles
New Hampshire Ice Castles | Photo by AJ Mellor, Courtesy of Ice Castles

Just a two-hour drive from Boston, the Ice Castles make a worthy day trip. But North Woodstock boasts some pretty decent brewpubs and is located 20 minutes from one of New England’s top skiing destinations, Loon Mountain, which boasts more than 60 trails for skiing and snowboarding, so you could also easily make a weekend of it.

This is not a journey to be taken on the fly: While tickets are technically available on-site, they can cost more and routinely sell out, and with the Omicron variant surging around the country, scores of folks will be seeking another excuse to leave town and frolic safely outdoors.

Tickets for the ice castle are $20 per person Monday through Thursday, and $27 per person Friday through Sunday. Kids ages 4 to 11 are $15 Monday through Thursday, and $22 Friday through Sunday. Weekend rates also apply on holidays and winter school breaks. You can purchase tickets online.

Meaghan Agnew is all about nesting this January. Track her indoor activities by following her on Instagram.