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1

Ice Castles feature 25 million pounds of towering, walk-through, interior-lit ice sculptures

Photograph by AJ Mellor

Ice Castles feature 25 million pounds of towering, walk-through, interior-lit ice sculptures Photograph by AJ Mellor )

2

Ice Castles feature 25 million pounds of towering, walk-through, interior-lit ice sculptures

Photograph by AJ Mellor

Ice Castles feature 25 million pounds of towering, walk-through, interior-lit ice sculptures Photograph by AJ Mellor )

3

Ice Castles feature 25 million pounds of towering, walk-through, interior-lit ice sculptures

Photograph by AJ Mellor

Ice Castles feature 25 million pounds of towering, walk-through, interior-lit ice sculptures Photograph by AJ Mellor )

4

The castle is a continuous structure built from thousands of icicles. 

Photograph by AJ Mellor

The castle is a continuous structure built from thousands of icicles. Photograph by AJ Mellor )

5

Delights await at every turn with ice-carved tunnels, ice thrones, and ice slides.

Photograph by AJ Mellor

Delights await at every turn with ice-carved tunnels, ice thrones, and ice slides. Photograph by AJ Mellor )

Just Add Ice: A Cool Getaway to Lincoln NH

Published Dec 06, 2018 • Last Updated 06:46 pm, December 10, 2018

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New England is rife with ski resorts and winter activities but with the added attraction of one of the world's only ice castles, Lincoln, New Hampshire simply freezes out the competition.

Open in early winter and lingering for a few delightful months in the frigid Western White Mountain air, Ice Castles features 25 million pounds of towering, walk-through, interior-lit ice structures to explore; on a site spanning more than an acre. LED lights, captured in the hand-crafted, naturally blue ice walls, radiate hues of pinks, greens, and deeper blues. The castle is one continuous structure, built from thousands of icicles creating walls 10 feet thick. Delights await at every turn, with ice sculptures, caverns, frozen thrones, ice-carved tunnels, ice slides and fountains lit and set to music. Special Ice Castle events are also sprinkled in, from mesmerizing fire dancers to photo-worthy visits with the royally costumed Ice Queen and Ice Princess.

Bringing Ice Castles to Lincoln: Four Words

Born in Midway, Utah from a concept developed by co-founder Brent Christensen, seven Ice Castles now rise annually at select locations around the world. Five are in America (Utah, New Hampshire, Minnesota, Colorado, and Wisconsin); the others are in Alberta, Canada and Queenstown, New Zealand. Of them all, Lincoln's Ice Castle was the entertainment company's second site -- and the first to be located outside of Christensen and co-founder and CEO Ryan Davis' home state of Utah. So why choose Lincoln? Four words, says Davis: Loon Mountain Ski Resort.

"So back in about 2012, I went around to several ski areas in New Hampshire and met with them and asked them if they would be interested in hosting an Ice Castle," Davis recalls. "We looked at a few different communities and found the Loon Mountain Ski Resort. The general manager at the time, Rick Kelley, was the kind of person who was very receptive and said, 'Hey, we can make this happen.' He was a problem solver and he's really smart -- all the qualities you look for. I will love Rick Kelley for life, not only because he's a great guy, but he looked at it and gave us a shot."

As Kelley had understood, situating Ice Castles in a community featuring Loon Mountain Ski Resort and the area's many other offerings has deepened Lincoln's cachet as a winter destination location. In 2017, Kelley, Loon's former president and general manager, was promoted to senior vice president of ski and mountain sports operations for Loon's parent North American ski resort company, Boyne Resorts. Kelley's legacy continues with Jay Scambio as Loon's new president and general manager.

Tickets, Please

As must-see on any Lincoln winter itinerary, Ice Castles is a ticketed venue -- and its incredibly important to buy your tickets in advance online at

https://icecastles.com/lincoln  or IceCastlesNH on Facebook. Online tickets guarantee you'll get in during your selected time window, can be downloaded to your Smartphone, and cost less.

Tickets numbers are limited to ensure a quality experience while allowing plenty of people in to enjoy, and standby tickets can sell out quickly, Davis cautions.  Weekends are a bit busier than weekdays, he adds.

"Weekdays are more of a kind of intimate experience; it's not quite as busy as the weekends. But that's why we limit the numbers, so we don't deteriorate the experience," says Davis.

Once you're inside, you can stay as long as you'd like. Hungry? Bakery-style goods and warm beverages are available from an onsite kiosk featuring a local shop which partners with Ice Castles. A good tip: to make the most of your day or night, layer up and wear warm, waterproof winter boots – Ice Castle's interior floors provide sturdy footing with a bed of gravel-like ice.

Building a Dream

It takes two months to construct each Ice Castle using water from a nearby, renewable water source. Following a new site plan each year, 20 to 40 ice artists arrived in early October to spend thousands of hours growing 5,000 to 12,000 icicles, all hand-harvested to craft the castle's towering structure. The growing ice is doused with water to create frozen formations.

"It's always totally different. It's never even close to the same. We'll tweak the design every year, because we're always experimenting and changing," says Davis, adding elements people love are woven into each new castle design, from its maze to those cathedral-like "dome rooms."

Exteriors subtly change as Mother Nature adds her own touches through wind and temperatures.

"We haven't invented the material –it's just the natural properties of ice," says Davis. "We just get it to freeze in the way we want it to freeze, and the way it looks is the way Mother Nature decides. Mother Nature is what makes it absolutely beautiful."

Davis notes Lincoln, NH is one of the company's most reliable sites for consistent cold weather.

"It's actually one of the colder locations, and it's been more predictably cold than other places, surprisingly," says Davis.

That usually allows Ice Castles to be up and running in Lincoln as the month of December deepens, with a season that lasts into March.  Because it is an outdoor attraction prone to conditions, the Ice Castles team announces each seasons' early-anticipated opening day on Facebook at IceCastlesNH. The team also encourages followers to tune in regularly to tap into their running conversation on weather, special events and all things Ice Castle throughout the season.

With its reputation as an ever-changing, one-of-a-kind experience, Ice Castles draws fans back and pulls new guests from across New England and beyond to Lincoln, NH every year. It's been a boon for the local economy and the realization of a dream for the founders of Ice Castles, says Davis.

"We have a patent on the building process. We invented it. There's no one else that knows how to do what we do," says Davis. "On the east coast and all of Europe anywhere else, you can see different winter activities. But no one combines the lights, the music and Mother Nature's ice together in a way that creates Ice Castles. There's nothing else like it."

Getting There

By car: Lincoln, NH is located just over 4 hours north of New Haven and 3.5 hours north of Hartford. To reach Ice Castles on Railroad Street in Lincoln, NH, take Interstate 93 in New Hampshire to exit 33 to US-3 South; then take Connector Road to Railroad Street. Loon Mountain Ski Resort is located just three miles from Interstate 93 at Exit 32. Note: GPS and other navigational aids do not always perform as they should in this area; so carry directions with you.

By train/bus: Depending on departure times, travel can range between 6 – 8 hours from New Haven's Union Station. Travel via Amtrak Acela toward Boston's South Station, with a walk-over of about three minutes to South Station Transportation Center to catch the Concord Coach bus line to Lincoln, NH. Tickets and information www.amtrak.com/northeast and https://concordcoachlines.com





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