Winter Carnivals in the Adirondacks
Instead of fleeing to warmer weather for a mid-winter vacation, lean into the season and celebrate at an Adirondack winter carnival. These magical festivals of ice and snow bring locals and visitors alike together in the name of winter fun. From snowshoe and snowmobile races to polar plunges, frying pan tosses, and even an ice palace, you'll feel like you've arrived in another world. After the gleam of the holidays fades away, give yourself something else to look forward to before spring arrives. Plan a visit to any of the Adirondack winter carnivals, and rediscover all the reasons why winter in the Adirondacks is the best time of year.
The Original Winter Carnival
The oldest event of its kind in the eastern United States, the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival has been celebrating the season for over 120 years! The Carnival began in the late 1800s when Tuberculosis patients flocked to Saranac Lake to breathe the fresh, cool mountain air – a practice thought to ease symptoms and even cure the disease entirely. Unable to sit comfortably on cure porches or take walks along the lake shores, the winter months dragged on for the patients, many of whom were without friends or family in the area. To break up the monotony and give patients a reason to socialize and get outdoors, the people of Saranac Lake hosted the inaugural Winter Carnival. Originally a small two-day affair, the event has since grown to the two-week all-out extravaganza of today.
At the heart of the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival is the Ice Palace. Made from two-ton ice blocks cut from Lake Flower, the towering structure is unique in architecture every year and features ice carvings and ice thrones. Fun, family-friendly events are hosted every day leading up to the big parade on the second Saturday of the celebration. With a new theme each year, local groups and organizations create elaborate floats, and performance groups such as the Lawn Chair Ladies and the Canoodlers excite the crowd with spirited routines. Engage in friendly competitions like the Ladies Frypan Toss, and enjoy fireworks at both the opening and closing of the event. As you participate in the festivities, keep an eye out for the Carnival Court – they'll be the ones in authentic Adirondack robes of royalty!
The Longest Carnival
Started in 1961, the Lake George Winter Carnival turns the entire month of February into a celebration. Every Saturday and Sunday throughout the winter month, Lake George pulls out all the stops with fun, Adirondack-inspired activities, exciting competitions, and lots of live entertainment. Get a taste for the region as local restaurants go head-to-head in a series of cook-off competitions. Experience just how beautiful ice can be by browsing the many ice sculptures – and even ice bars – featured throughout the village.
With a different schedule of events each weekend, you'll have a reason to return each weekend! Gather up all your bravery and participate in the chilling Polar Bear Plunge, or keep your snowsuits on and try your hand at ice golfing, ATV ice races, or snowman building. Gather together with friends, family, and new acquaintances around a beach bonfire and roast the perfect marshmallow for a gooey s'more, and see the Lake George skyline illuminated with brilliant colors each Saturday during a show-stopping fireworks display. The Lake George Winter Carnival is a family-friendly celebration highlighting the best of the region during the winter season. Make sure you experience at least one weekend this year!
Celebrating Locals - Other Adirondack Winter Carnivals
Take part in Long Lake's wildest weekend! The Long Lake Winter Carnival packs a lot of fun into their one-day celebration in January. The day kicks off with a snowmobile parade down Mt. Sabattis and the coronation of the King and Queen. From there, it's all fun and games, with cardboard box sled races, a Ladies Fry Pan Toss, free ice skating and sledding, a rousing game of broomball, ice carving demonstrations, and even complementary food! Capping off the day with a fireworks display, it's an action-packed day you won't soon forget!
Held the last Saturday of February, Frozen Fire & Lights brings tons of family-friendly winter fun to the village of Inlet. Gather around a bonfire and enjoy delicious treats after an afternoon of sledding, ice-skating and Adirondack cross-country skiing. Decorate a kite, race down a hill on a cardboard sled, and complete the day with a spectacular fireworks display in Arrowhead Park.
The Raquette Lake Winter Carnival offers two full days of family fun in mid-February. Get your adrenaline pumping by taking part in the snowshoe relay, snow dodgeball game, and tug-o-war competition. See how far you can toss a frying pan, or hit a hole in one playing ice golf on Raquette Lake. Curious what real lumberjacks are all about? Stop by the timed cross-cut and chainsaw competitions to see them in action! When the chill of the day starts to seep in, warm up by the bonfire and get ready for the evening's firework display.
President's Week brings SnoCade to Indian Lake, and snowmobiles take center stage! It's a week packed with unique events and features, like community snow sculptures, the Meet and Greet Snowmobile outing, guided snowmobile rides, a fry pan toss, outdoor human foosball, cardboard and duct tape sled races, a snowshoe softball tournament, and more. When you tire of the outdoors, gather indoors at the Winter Wonderland Craft Show, Community Knit In, live music and comedy performances, and several community dinners.
The Brant Lake Winter Carnival is an Adirondack party on ice. While events like the snowmobile parade, fry pan toss, broomball tournament, curling, dog sled rides, ice hockey shoot-off, and ice bowling are fun for the whole family, the highlight of the event is the Outhouse Races. Competitors race for a $1,000 prize pushing occupied outhouses mounted on skis across the frozen lake. Cap off the day with a fireworks display and don't forget to take advantage of the free horse-drawn carriage rides!
When the snow flies and the temperatures drop, you have two options – hibernate or embrace the season. With so many winter carnivals to enjoy, it would be silly not to join in the fun! Experience an Adirondack winter carnival this season, and discover how much fun winter can be.