This past weekend we spent in New Hampshire visiting the Ice Castles with our girls! Boy, did we have a blast. It was chilly but we made the best of it and enjoyed every minute!
They host Ice Castles in several different states but we visited the ones in North Woodstock, New Hampshire. Not too bad of a drive from us here in Vermont – about 2 hours. We spent the weekend in my in-laws timeshare which definitely made a difference to have the pool and hot tub to come back to and warm up in after our chilly adventure.
We have been to the Ice Castles once before but it was many years ago. They have done a phenomenal job at enhancing the experience since then. My husband and I were blown away at all of the extra things that they have added in to amplify the experience for the entire family.
Truly, even if you don’t have children it is worth visiting and now with their night option you can make it even a night out for a group of friends or a date!
What Are The Ice Castles?
The Ice Castles founder, Brett Christensen, started it all in his own front yard as a means of entertainment and joy for his own children. It became such a hit that all of the neighborhood kids would come to play and the idea of the Ice Castles being an event was born!
The locations that hold these icy events every year are New Hampshire, New York, Minnesota, Utah and Wisconsin. Depending on weather, the start date always varies but they are hosted in January and February each year.
I can’t speak on all of the locations but here are some of the things that you could find in addition to the beautiful ice castle that you can explore and walk through in the NH location that we visited.
An Icy Play Space For Kids
There is a section that is sculpted for kids specifically. This includes smaller scale ice slides and tunnels for the children to go crazy in! Be warned – it is SLICK! My big girls went in and explored but had to be rescued because they were having trouble maneuvering without an adult hand and it was hard for us to get in and out of these smaller tunnels!
Horse Drawn Sleigh Rides
While all of the other areas are free to enjoy with your purchased ticket, the sleigh rides are an additional fee. We chose to opt out of the rides because they were a bit pricey in our opinion. However, it was a beautiful sleigh and I bet the ride was delightful! The cost was $20 per person, under 3 – free. For our family of 5 it wasn’t reasonable enough to consider after spending the money for our entrance fee.
A section was made on a hill with great snow tubing lanes! You could enter and wait in line, move up the hill and wait your turn to go down the lanes. With 4 lanes you could tube down at the same time of friends or family. My husband took our older girls and they raced! The tubes were the really nice quality inner tube material too.
There are two spots on the property where you can get treats to help warm you up. A variety of warm drinks including hot chocolate and cider or warm soft pretzels and cookies are to name a few. There is one other location up by the Igloo Bar that offered a few other options to choose from! Reasonable prices for an event of this nature and there are benches to sit and hand warming fires to stand around should you like!
Day Vs. Night Experience
We have only visited the Ice Castles during the day so I can’t speak from personal experience on the night time vibe. However, from what I have seen and read it is super neat! The Ice Castles come alive with colorful lights and illuminations. What a totally different experience. I can imagine it seems like right of the movie Frozen with the Northern Lights glistening off of the ice.
Another thing we thought was a great addition was the Igloo Bar! There is a lighted ice sculpture walk that sits right next to the Igloo Bar. Yes, a fully frozen ice bar that is open in the evening for the adults to enjoy beverages. What a cool spin for the “older kids!”
Next year we plan to try out the evening version of the ice castles as our girls will all be a little older and staying up late to have some extra fun won’t be so hard on them! Boy do the lights look gorgeous in the pictures. A vibrant array of beaming ice. So cool!
The Ice Castles are truly a work of art and a must see in my opinion. An experience straight out of a storybook.
Be pre-warned…mother nature can be wild and you never know if she will cooperate with the date you chose! So when you pack and plan, be ready for things to change up on you.
Some tips for visiting the Ice Castles from someone who has been there and done that!
- Pre-plan and pre-purchase your tickets as they sell out fast!
- Be prepared for plans to change because of mother nature not cooperating. If you are traveling, have a plan b so that your trip isn’t a waste!
- Wear layers. It can be incredibly cold out there among the icicles but it is also hard to get around some of the areas. The ground is broken up and if you are chasing kids you could work up a sweat!
- Wear snow gear. This year us adults did not and although it wasn’t too cold without, it was hard to get down with the littles without getting too chilled and wet in the ice!
- Be prepared to use cold porta pottys. They have them at the entrance and also inside of the event. It is COLD! And not easy when you have layers of snow gear on and cold fingers. Layer smart so it is easy enough to undress to use the bathroom. This goes for both you AND the kids.
- Consider bringing a baby carrier/backpack if your child is new on their feet. As stated above the ground can be a little harder to walk on with all the refrozen snow chunks and parts of the adventure might be difficult for smaller children to walk on and even harder for you to carry while fumbling around.
- Be ready to nap after! I’m serious. This sounds so silly but don’t plan a bunch of things after you adventure. You will want to warm up and chill out!
With the Ice Castles being over this year I hope that you find some of this information and tips useful for planning your visit for next year! It would be COOL to see ya there!
You Might Also Like…
- 28 Drinks & Snacks for a Road Trip
- Winter Outdoor Activities For Families
- How To Entertain The Kids For Less
Love, light and a little grace…
Olivia Whalen is mama to three young girls who is devoted to creative learning, exploration and free range imagination. Olivia enjoys thinking outside of the box when it comes to preparing homemade baby food or meals for her family. She most enjoys allowing the little minds in her life to flourish and with that you will see her write about creative kid crafts, recipes that fit a family budget and keep everyone asking for more, tips and tricks for a tiny babe, and beginner homesteader fun! Some of her hobbies include gardening, hiking, reading, cooking or just basking in motherhood.