Winter in the Adirondacks Is 'Snow' Much Fun

Winter in the Adirondacks is a time of celebration, when snowfall signals the start of magical holiday events, winter carnivals that can last for days or weeks, and family-friendly events sure to delight!

Elexis Gaines

This winter, you may be wondering what to do with your family. Never fear, I've compiled a list of the coolest winter festivals going on in the Adirondack Region throughout this snowy season. First up - be sure to mark your calendars for the 2017 Empire State Winter Games, slated for February 2 - 5, 2017. This multi-day sporting event takes place across the Adirondacks, and uses many of the Olympic facilities in Lake Placid. Athletes from across New York State compete in a number of winter sports, many of which are the same disciplines found in both the Olympic and Paralympic games. Over 1,900 athletes of all ages, including master divisions will be competing in the 2017 games. Being a spectator at the Games allows people the unique opportunity to observe world class competition in multiple disciplines in one centralized region.

Sports include: Adaptive Alpine Skiing, Adaptive Biathlon, Adaptive Cross Country Skiing, Adaptive Ski Cross, Adaptive Hockey, Adaptive Snowboard Cross, Alpine Skiing, Biathlon, Bobsled, Cross Country, Figure Skating, Luge, Nordic Combined, Skeleton, Ski Big Air, Ski Cross, Ski Jumping, Ski Orienteering, Ski Slopestyle, Snowboard Big Air, Snowboard Cross, Snowboard Slopestyle, Snowshoe, Speed Skating, Squirt Hockey, Winter Bike, Women's Hockey.

Winter Bike Event at the Empire State Winter Games
Winter Bike Event at the Empire State Winter Games
(Courtesy of Gabriel Dickens/Empire State Winter Games)

The Empire State Winter Games are one of the biggest events to happen to the Adirondacks all winter, but there are amazing festivals and winter celebrations going on all season long. Kick off the New Year at the annual Friday Day & Polar Plunge event in Lake George! Dip in the frigid water and see how far you get! First 400 swimmers at 1pm followed by each group of 400 every half-hour on New Year's Day. 

On January 7, the 4th Annual ADK Winterfest will take place at the Adirondack Loj in Lake Placid. The event is put on by the ADK Mountain club and they invite you, your friends and your family to join together in celebrating Winter Trails Day and all the winter season has to offer from 10 am to 8 pm. Featured events and activities include: Guided Hikes & Snowshoe Hikes, Kids Biathlon, Ski Mountaineering Races, Ski industry clinics, Introductory cross country skiing, Dog Sled clinics, Nordic Skating, food, music and games. 

Shortly after, Keene Valley's Mountaineer will host the 21st Annual Mountainfest January 13-15. This annual celebration of ice climbing and mountaineering features guest athletes sharing their tales of climbing adventures, as well as instructional clinics taught by visiting athletes and local guides, and the chance to demo new gear. Mountainfest 2017 boasts an excellent line-up of speakers including Patagonia athlete Kelly Cordes, Rab athlete Scott Bennett & Black Diamond athlete Kevin Mahoney.

No winter is complete without a cocktail at The Sagamore Resort's Glacial Ice Bar & Lounge. Open for a limited time only - January 20-22 and January 27-29 - the ice bar is a must. See the transformation of 18,000 pounds of crystal-clear ice into one of the "hottest and coolest lounges" in the Adirondacks. Exquisite ice carvings and sub-zero temperatures make this swanky lounge an unforgettable experience. After sipping cocktails at the Ice Bar, step inside and warm up next to the cozy fireplace.

The festivities continue on the SUNY Plattsburgh campus with the Banff Mountain Film Festival World Tour, which hits the North Country on January 30th. For the past 40 years, The Banff Mountain Film Festival has been celebrating the spirit of adventure and the mountain environment. Featuring 30 short films and edits of extreme sports athletes, outdoor adventure and expeditions. Subjects include: Base Jumping, Surfing, Free Skiing, Mountain Biking, Climbing, Hiking, Sailing and many other exciting endeavors all taken on by some of the worlds extreme avid outdoor enthusiasts. Tickets are just $8.

One of the biggest Adirondack winter traditions kicks off at the beginning of February, the 120th Saranac Lake Winter Carnival, February 3-12, 2017. An action-packed wintry celebration in Saranac Lake since 1897, this year's theme is 'Adirondack Wildlife'. Events are held at various locations around Saranac Lake. The iconic Ice Palace, "The centerpiece of the Winter Carnival" is constructed of enormous ice blocks harvested right from Lake Flower. The palace is illuminated at night and is a sight not to be missed.

Winter Carnival includes: sports competitions, special shows, live music, parades, children's events, and more! Snowshoeing and cross-country ski racing at Dewey Mountain, inner tube and alpine ski races at Mount Pisgah Ski Center, skating races, hockey games, the annual Gala Parade, snowflake volleyball played in knee-deep snow at the Civic Center, snowshoe softball played at the Elks Field, ultimate frisbee games, Fireman's Broomball, a curling exhibition on Lake Flower, an exhibition of woodsmen's logging skills with Paul Smith's College students at Riverside Park, 18th Annual Past Royalty Mixer & Dinner & Coronation of Carnival Royalty.

Saranac Lake Winter Carnival Ice Palace
Saranac Lake Winter Carnival Ice Palace

On February 4th, the Remington Wine, Beer, Cheese, Chocolate & Artisan Festival brings together some of the best things in life at the Frederic Remington Museum in Ogdensburg. The festival is a quality tasting and shopping experience spread spread throughout the Frederic Remington Art Museum's gorgeous Victorian interiors. Shop 40 select vendors.

The weekend of February 17-19, four winter festivals kick off:

  • Adirondack White Out Weekend in the Adirondack Seaway Region. Enjoy the beauty of winter in Star Lake, Cranberry Lake, Wanakena and Clifton-Fine by joining us for some fun and exciting winter activities for the entire family.
  • Indian Lake Winterfest includes a parade, pasta dinner, breakfast at the Fire Hall, a poker run, Tricky Tray, kids activities,cardboard & duct tape sled Race, bonfire & fireworks, craft fair, book sale and more.
  • Brantingham Winterfest includes a parade, open house, vintage snowmobile activities, fishing contest, chicken BBQ, bed & barefoot races, bands & entertainment, snowmobile raffle drawing Sunday night
  • Tupper Lake's Fire & Ice Festival kicks off February 17-18, and celebrates all the things that are wonderful about winter in New York's Adirondack Mountains. From fire dancers and ice carvers to winter golf, snowmobile runs, ski races and zorb balls - Fire & Ice have events for all ages.

On the coast of Lake Champlain, February 24-25 means the SNO X East Coast Snowcross ramps up, offering racing on a regional level with International Snowmobile Racing Inc - Snow X Eas, a regional snowmobile racing circuit, held at the Clinton County Fairgrounds in Plattsburgh, NY. Competitive Snowmobile racing for different levels and age groups. Spectators can watch as the high-powered snow machines battle it out to have their name on the top of the leader board. Definitely an event for the adrenaline seeker.

On February 25, the 15th Annual Frozen Fire & Lights festival gets underway in Inlet. Bring the family for an afternoon and evening of fun! Fern Park offers free sledding, ice skating, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing (rentals available), bonfires, fireworks and treats.

Winter Carnival comes to Brant Lake on February 27 with snowshoe races on ice, snowshoe softball game, longest icicle contest, sled pulling, broomball tournament, ice hockey, outhouse derby, ice fishing derby, crowning of a king and queen, vintage snowmobile rides, bonfires, snacks, and fireworks at dusk.

For more events, performing arts and Adirondack gathering, check out Visit Adirondacks events

About the Author …
Elexis Gaines
A Destination Wedding & Event Planner & Co-Owner of ADK Aquatics both based in Lake Placid, Elexis is a 4-season outdoor enthusiast and a strong advocate of #VisitADKs. @placidplanner
Elexis Gaines
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Throughout each season, our Adirondack communities host a plethora of Adirondack events that celebrate the region's rich history and legendary heritage.
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