Nothing says Saranac Lake quite like Winter Carnival
January 31 through February 9, 2020
Don’t stay inside this winter — come celebrate, Saranac Lake style! Winter Carnival is a 10-day event filled with fun. Every Carnival has a theme; this year it’s Myths and Legends. Carnival-goers will find all manner of family-friendly events, eclectic bands performing nightly, a lively parade, and all the games, exhibits, and celebrations they can handle.
The action heats up with the lighting of the Ice Palace. Get bundled up and watch as fireworks light up the Adirondack sky, then join the crowd as it enters the palace, a huge structure made out of ice blocks pulled directly from Lake Flower. A palace isn’t the same without royalty, so be on the lookout for the king, queen, and royal court!
After the opening, stick around for a schedule packed with costumes, revelry, good cheer, and all of the creative energy that makes Saranac Lake the Adirondacks’ most decidedly different destination! Winter Carnival — you have to experience it to believe it!
Winter Carnival history
Since 1897, our Winter Carnival has been a grassroots, volunteer-driven event that started as a celebration to break up the spectacular, but deep, winters. The extra impetus came from the village’s transition from a lively logging community to a wilderness research and cure center for tuberculosis. The treatment of the time, while more successful than any other attempts until the discovery of antibiotics, emphasized lots of rest and few activities. But, the patients also needed a boost to their morale. And so Winter Carnival was born.
Like many communities in the area, Saranac Lake was in the “ice trade,” cutting blocks of frozen water to serve the refrigeration needs of turn-of-the-century cities. So the equipment, and the expertise, was already in place to build the first Ice Tower. While there is now heavy equipment in use, the construction techniques are the same as the ones used over 100 years ago. Enthusiasm has grown over the years, and the original tower has grown into a magnificent palace made from the frozen waters of Lake Flower.
Make Winter Carnival your Adirondack getaway
Leave your car behind — most of Saranac Lake’s lodging is located a short walk from the Ice Palace! You’ll want to head downtown after exploring its icy walls to participate in some of the lively, snow-centered activities and events, like the ski and snowshoe races, Ice Palace Fun Run, curling exhibition, and Arctic Golf. We keep tradition alive with the woodsmen’s demonstration of logging skills and add modern fun like the Ultimate Frisbee Games and Fireman’s Broomball.
Other don’t-miss Carnival happenings include the Arctic BBQ, the crowd-favorite Ladies Fry Pan Toss, and the world-famous Lawn Chair Ladies with their synchronized performance dancing. It wouldn’t be a Winter Carnival Parade without them!