Winter Carnivals

Feel like you wandered into a medieval fairy tale, from castles of ice to rousing competitions, enjoy winter traditions that span centuries.
A timelapse video of the Saranac Lake ice palace being built.

Adirondack Winter Traditions

Winter in the Adirondack Mountains is one of the most festive and magical times of the year. From November through early March, revelers find ways to celebrate the snow with traditions that span centuries, connect generations and offer fun for all.

The oldest event of its kind in the eastern United States, the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival celebrates its 121st Anniversary this year. A cherished tradition, the Carnival began in the late 1800s when Saranac Lake thrived as a health resort for Tuberculosis patients. It started as a small, two-day affair promoting outdoor sports and recreation for patients "taking the cure," as a way to break up and enjoy the long winter.

As the century passed the Carnival grew, morphing into a two-week celebration filled with special Saranac Lake events like the Women's Fry Pan Toss, musical and theater performances, a much-anticipated parade, as well as opening and closing ceremony fireworks. The crowning attraction of each Carnival is the Ice Palace. Built using two-ton blocks of ice harvested from nearby Lake Flower, the Ice Palace takes its shape anew each winter, offering tunnels, a maze and new surprises at every turn. 

Many Adirondack communities host winter carnivals and Lake George is no different. Every weekend throughout February, the Lake George Winter Carnival reigns supreme on the list of fun Adirondack events to check out. From the Polar Bear Plunge, ice golfing and ATV ice races, fireworks and Frisbee golf, to ice sculptures, live music, and beach bonfires - the community of Lake George puts on a show all month long.

Winter Carnivals in the Adirondacks

  • Long Lake Winter Carnival offers a full day of winter fun in January. Watch the snowmobile parade descend from the top of Mt. Sabattis, the coronation of the King and Queen of the Winter Carnival, cardboard box sled races, Ladies Fry Pan Toss, fireworks and more.
  • Frozen Fire & Lights takes place in the village of Inlet. Gather around the bonfire and enjoy delicious treats after an afternoon of sledding, ice-skating and Adirondack cross-country skiing. Watch a spectacular fireworks display in Arrowhead Park at dusk.
  • Raquette Lake Winter Carnival offers family fun in mid-February, including the Lady's Fry Pan Toss, Snowshoe Relay, Snow Dodgeball, and Tug-o-War. Don't miss Ice Golf on Raquette Lake! Warm up beside the bonfire and enjoy a fireworks display.
  • WinterFest in Indian Lake, slated for February, promises a jam-packed weekend of Adirondack events. Enjoy a new addition to the festivities, the Winter Wonderland Craft Show.
  • Ogdensburg's River Shiver and Polar Bear Plunge - Spend a week on the St. Lawrence River and participate in an ice-fishing tournament, hockey, broomball and basketball tournaments, a reenactment of the Battle of Ogdensburg and the chilly Polar Bear Plunge.

Join us this special season and discover all the fun and excitement of an Adirondack winter!

Photos of Winter Carnivals
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