Festival Guide: Saranac Lake Winter Carnival
The Saranac Lake Winter Carnival has a rich history dating back to the late 1800’s. A local group of outdoor enthusiasts formed the Pontiac Club in 1897 and sponsored a one day dress up party. It was expanded to the Pontiac Club Winter Carnival in 1898 and a tradition was born. Although the carnival has not been held every year since 1898 it has been continuous since the 1947-48 Winter Season and is one of the longest running traditions of it’s kind.
Today, the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival is a 10 day festival dedicated to the activities and joys of Winter. A true community gem, this carnival is run by an all volunteer group of locals. All kinds of people get involved, including Saranac Lake local and Doonesbury creator Garry Trudeau. The funny pages icon has designed the Carnival’s famous buttons and collectible posters since 1981.
Every year, Saranac Lake boasts a new theme to the carnival. For 2017 the carnival will be held February 3rd through 12th and will celebrate “Adirondack Wildlife”.
The centerpiece of the festival is the Ice Palace that is built with ice from Lake Flower. The opening and closing ceremonies of the Carnival are celebrated with fireworks at the palace and Carnival Royalty are sworn in at the ice palace. In true Saranac Lake style, the palace is designed and built by local volunteers. Visit the Ice Palace History page and learn all about this time honored tradition.
There is something for all Winter enthusiasts at the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival. Churches and schools join the fun with craft sales, parades and mini-carnivals. Local businesses like Left Bank Café and The Rusty Nail host “High Tea” and musical events throughout the carnival for a true Adirondack experience. Sporting events include downhill skiing, Nordic skiing, snowshoe races, snowshoe softball, snowflake volleyball, arctic golf, fry pan tossing and even ultimate frisbee games. There are scavenger hunts and karaoke, face painting and movie nights.
This is truly a community minded, family event and visitors should take the time to immerse themselves into this Adirondack village. Stay for three or more nights and you won’t be disappointed in the hospitality and community feel of the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival.