Ice Castles – Lincoln, New Hampshire - Atlas Obscura
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Lincoln, New Hampshire

Ice Castles

What if we could make dribble castles out of ice? In Lincoln, New Hampshire they can. 

On the grounds of the Hobo Railroad in the White Mountains of northern New Hampshire, there are caves, tunnels, fountains, slides and sculptures made of icicles. They call them Ice Castles, kind of like those dribble castles you make from wet sand at the beach. But these are full-scale, manmade stalactites and stalagmites (which is which again?), lit up at night to an icy glow.

The Ice Castles project originated in Utah, and each year the creators go to wintry locations to set up a series of drip pipes to start the process of trickling out their icicles—the “seeds” of the castles. These icicles then form the basis of the structures, which are made entirely of ice and snow.

This year there are Ice Castles in Midway, Utah, Stillwater, Minnesota, Wisconsin Dells, Wisconsin, Edmonton, Alberta, and these beauties in Lincoln. (Needless to say, it has to be pretty cold to get your icicles properly dribbled.)

The creation of Utah designer Brent Christensen, his ice teams start forming the castles weeks before the doors open for the season in late December-early January (a little earlier in Edmonton, but their weather is ready for it). Every day thousands of new icicles are formed and added, and the sculpting and coaxing of the ice and snow results in new tunnels and caves, so that the whole castle keeps building and building—until the end of winter. By March, when the icicles start to melt and all the pipes are packed up, the Ice Castles have grown by hundreds of thousands of sparkly, spiky icicles. 

Know Before You Go

Lincoln is about 10 miles south of Franconia Notch, and Ice Castles is across the street from McGee Road on Railroad Street. They will will open for the season on December 30, 2016. The hours are Monday, Wednesday and Thursday from 3pm to 9pm, Friday from 3pm to 10pm, and Saturday from noon to 10pm. Check website for admission prices and when tickets will go on sale.

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