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

Empire State Winter Games

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 2019 Empire State Winter Games, slated for January 31 - February 3. 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 2,100 athletes of all ages, including master divisions, competed in the 2018 games, with many slated to return for 2019 competitions. Being a spectator at the Games allows people the unique opportunity to observe world-class competition in multiple disciplines in one centralized region.

ESWG 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
Courtesy of Gabriel Dickens/Empire State Winter Games

Winter Carnivals & Festivals

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 First 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. 

Visit the Adirondack Tug Hill Region in on the weekend of January 18-20 for the annual ADK Tug Hill Winter Outing event. Enjoy the weekend playing in the East's heaviest snow, while cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and meeting new friends. Note, this is an overnight event, so bring a sleeping bag or book a stay at an area hotel or motel.

Keene Valley's Mountaineer will host the Annual Mountainfest January 18-21. This annual celebration of ice climbing and mountaineering features guest athletes sharing their tales of climbing adventures, as well as conducting instructional clinics alongside local guides. There will also be the chance for attendees to demo new gear.

No winter is complete without a cocktail at The Sagamore Resort's Glacial Ice Bar & Lounge. Open for a limited time only - the weekends of January 18 and January 25 - 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.

One of the biggest Adirondack winter traditions kicks off at the beginning of February, the 122nd Saranac Lake Winter Carnival, February 1-10, 2019. An action-packed wintry celebration in Saranac Lake since 1897, this year's theme is 'Adirondack Festival'. 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.

The Saranac  Lake Winter Carnival will include 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, and the Annual Past Royalty Mixer & Dinner and Coronation of Carnival Royalty.

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

In February, 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 throughout the Frederic Remington Art Museum's gorgeous Victorian interiors. Shop 40 select vendors.

The third weekend in February kicks off four winter festivals:

  • 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 SnoCade 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

In Lake George, February 10-11 means the SNO X East Coast Snowcross ramps up, offering racing on a regional level with International Snowmobile Racing Inc - SNO X East, a regional snowmobile racing circuit. Round 3 of the competition will be held during the Lake George Winter Carnival. Competitive Snowmobile racing for different levels and age groups. On February 24th, as a part of the winter carnival, a snowmobile drag race is held on Lake George near Shepard Park. Spectators can watch as the high-powered snow machines battle it out to have their name on the top of the leaderboard. Definitely an event for the adrenaline seeker.

On February 23, the 18th 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 the last Saturday February 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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