Think snow and ice mean it’s time to stay home? Think again! These freezing temperatures are ideal for growing ice, which means there’s an abundance of icy fun to be had if you know where to look! Winter is a hugely busy season for New Englanders who understand how to bundle up and enjoy the chilly weather. Want to get in on the fun? Let’s dive into the top local frozen hot spots.
Bring the whole family along for a celebration of everything ice! In scenic downtown Keene, there will be live, professional ice carvers, snow sculptures, and sidewalk sales planned for Saturday, February 5th from 10am-4pm.
Deck your littles in cozy hats and mittens because you’re going to want to stay all day! The kiddos are going to love the snow slide, children’s train, sugar on snow, campfire s’mores and so much more. Search for Yeti’s scavenger hunt or get your face painted. Then, warm up at the free hot chocolate stations and enjoy cartoons at the New Showroom Theater before you head back outside for more icy fun.
Sunbeams and Sunnies
For a peaceful getaway, early morning ice fishing is a unique chance to get out and about. Through the snowy silence, eerie sound waves boom as thick lake ice shifts underfoot. It’s an unforgettable and sometimes unnerving feeling and a good reminder that safety out on the ice is no joke.(Ice fishing images courtesy of Sonja Bolton.)
Make sure you’re confident the ice is sure and thick, a recommended minimum of 8-9 inches thick with little to no air pockets according to Keene Parks and Recreation. Once you reach that safety level, ice fishing provides a fantastic family adventure! Bring along a camp chair and sunglasses to your favorite local fishing spot. Drill your holes, let out the lines, and sit back while you watch for flags under the bright winter sunshine.
There are tons of popular and secret fishing spots. Check NH Fish and Game for more ice safety tips, advice on how to get started, and top spots to catch your dinner. Don’t forget to purchase your license either online or at one of the local sports shops.
If you want to see the professionals reel in the big fish, stop by the Wilson Pond Ice Fishing Derby in Swanzey, NH on Saturday, February 19th. It’s sponsored by the Swanzey Recreational Department and the Connecticut River Sportsmen’s Club. Sign up to show everyone your expert ice fishing skills. Check here for details on local derbies, including Contoocook Lake in Jaffrey and Highland Lake in Stoddard, NH.
Ice Skating for All Ages
You don’t have to be an Olympian to rock ice skates. With a pair of skates and a snow shovel, you can clear your own ice rink at your favorite local pond to skate to your heart’s content. Of course, make sure the ice is safe before heading out.
If you want to glide along without all the prep work, Swanzey Recreation Department hosts a maintained public ice rink at Brown Memorial Field to skate at your own risk. If the gates are closed, the ice is closed for safety; otherwise it’s fair game. And with lights on until 9pm, the ice is perfect for a family skate at the Pole Barn rink in Fitzwilliam. Ice rinks are also open at Adam’s Playground in Peterborough and Wheelock Park in Keene. Other hot spots to watch as the ice continues to grow are Humiston Field in Jaffrey and Robin Hood Park in Keene.
Keene Ice offers indoor ice skating, lessons, public skating, room and equipment rentals, skating parties, hockey leagues, figure skating clubs, and everything you need to enjoy a great skate time with family and friends. Check Keene Ice’s website for up-to-date Covid-19 protocols or schedule an event.
Harvesting natural ice in New England was legendary as an agricultural industry in the 1900s. Before the ice cream truck, children chased regular ice deliveries for slivers of ice chips. At its peak, more than 10,000,000 tons were consumed annually across the United States.
To experience this rich history without breaking out the ice saws, stop by Stonewall Farm in Keene, NH. They have a complete set of ice harvesting tools up for display in the front of the sugar house, which is the Tool Museum. The public is invited to tour the tools when the farm is open. You’ll find educational signage detailing the various instruments of the trade. Stonewall hopes members of the public enjoy them as much as they do! (Images of the Tool Museum and the tools, courtesy of Stonewall Farm.)
Kings and Queens Of Ice
If you want to venture outside the Monadnock Region, the famous ice castles of Woodstock, NH draw big crowds every year. This display of lighted ice sculptures is stunning against a dark sky. It will be sure to enchant and amaze the whole family with treasured memories worth the trek.
Ice: A Way of Life
Enjoying the elements despite frigid temps is truly what New Englanders revel in. We find local ways to celebrate our frozen treasures and thrive together as a community all winter long. If you’d like to see what this special time of year is all about, put on your snow boots and take advantage now because maple season will be here before you know it!