These Ice Castles Near Boston Are a Must-See Winter Wonderland
Explore 25 million pounds of ice constructed into tunnels, slides, and towers.
When the weather hits freezing, very few things can 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.
After delays due to a surge of unseasonably warm weather, this ever-popular winter attraction is set to open on January 27. 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.
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. 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.
For guests seeking 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: a Polar Pub where you can belly up to the ice-sculpted bar for winter-themed cocktails.
More than a decade ago, Brent Christensen built his daughter an ice cave in their backyard in Utah, which soon attracted every kid in town. Buoyed by the neighborhood 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.
Just a two-hour drive from Boston, the Ice Castles make a worthy day trip. But North Woodstock boasts some pretty decent brewpubs, cozy accommodations, 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 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, so plan ahead. Tickets for the ice castle are $20 per person Tuesday through Thursday, and $27 per person Friday and Saturday. The ice castle is closed Sunday and Monday. Kids ages 4 to 11 are $15 Tuesday through Thursday, and $22 Friday and Saturday. Weekend rates also apply on holidays and winter school breaks. You can purchase tickets online.