Ice Castle returns to Lincoln with plans to move to permanent site in North Woodstock next yearBy JOHN KOZIOL
Union Leader Correspondent December 08. 2017 5:47PM
LINCOLN -- After four winters of increasing success, Utah-based Ice Castles LLC is again bringing its ephemeral creativity to this resort town in the White Mountains.
Next year, it will move to its own property in neighboring North Woodstock.
In 2013, the company created its first Ice Castle on the East Coast at Loon Mountain. It was so popular there that it moved to a much bigger venue at the Hobo Railroad the following year.
At the Hobo, Ice Castles annually added 30 percent more lights while also seeing its attendance, which was in the tens of thousands, go up by 20 percent each year. That kind of growth ultimately led the company, which this winter will have four Ice Castles in the U.S. and two in Canada, to make the decision to buy its own site.
"We've never had this opportunity before," said Tayler Christensen, the Lincoln Ice Castle "build manager" and the nephew of company founder Brent Christensen. During a recent interview, he said "the sky's the limit" on the 60 acres the company has acquired in North Woodstock on Clark Farm Road.
That property has magnificent views of the White Mountains to the east, north and west and will easily accommodate parking and other amenities. Building future Ice Castles in North Woodstock will ease traffic congestion in Lincoln, where backups are common at I-93's Exit 32, while keeping it close enough to the interstate to be readily accessible by visitors.
While the Lincoln Ice Castle draws many visitors from central New Hampshire, some 60 percent come from much further south: The average visitor drives at least four hours round-trip, said Christensen.
They come from that far away, Christensen said, because they think there are few things more beautiful or enchanting than an ice castle in the White Mountains.
Growing up near Lake Tahoe, Calif., Christensen never thought he would find "as beautiful a place" as that, but he reconsidered after becoming the Lincoln build manger in 2014, eventually moving his family to Lincoln. During the off-season, Christensen is a computer programmer.
The planning and building of the Ice Castle begins in late October. The castle opens the first week of January and closes in early March, weather permitting.
The Hobo Railroad's owners have been "excellent hosts," Christensen said, but the purchase of the North Woodstock property shows his company's belief that an Ice Castle in the White Mountains will be a successful, permanent seasonal attraction.
Jayne O'Connor, president of the White Mountains Attractions Association, whose members include Loon and the Hobo RR, said it was "wonderful news that the Ice Castles wants to be part of the community for the future. Their land purchase means we don't have to wonder if we'll see them next year, and the year after that."
The Lincoln Ice Castle, she added, has been "an awesome addition to the neighborhood from the start, and a way to get people outdoors to enjoy winter - which of course is what we do here in the White Mountains in the winter. I'm sure they'll have plans for other winter activities and expansions."
Woodstock Selectman Jim Fadden said he was "tickled pink" to have the Ice Castle locate permanently in town.
Last winter, Woodstock sold the Ice Castle municipal water, at cost, and has previously worked with the company to alleviate what had been some serious traffic issues. Each time, the company has done exactly what it promised it would do, said Fadden. He fully expects the company to address any traffic issues next winter.
"They've assured us they'll do everything that they can to make sure it's not a problem," said Fadden.
Christensen promises this year's Lincoln Ice Castle in Lincoln will be special.
All the elements, including the double alpine slide, are returning, he said, and two perennial visitor favorites - the Enchanted Ice Princess and Fire Performer - will now appear on a regular schedule. A "light forest" will be a new addition, and the Ice Castle, while maintaining its overall dimensions, will increase the number of turrets from 70 to 79.
Visitors will have "a magical time," said Christensen, "and you can quote me on that."