Is spending winter in your area a bit bland? Add some excitement to your cold days by spending it with other merrymakers during festive winter festivals. You do not even have to travel far, as here are some of the most recommended winter festivals within the United States.
Saranac Lake Winter Carnival (Saranac Lake, New York) – The State of New York has its share of natural wonder often missed out even by its residents. Located within Adirondack Park, the town of Saranac Lake celebrates its Winter Carnival that hosts season-related sports competitions ranging from alpine skiing to curling, as well as offbeat contests like the women’s frying pan toss. The carnival includes concerts, fireworks, and parades. But the highlight of it all is the elaborate ice palace (pictured) built from thousands of ice blocks harvested from Lake Flower; a tradition that has been practiced for 115 years. February 3 to 12.
St. Paul Winter Carnival (St. Paul, Minnesota) – The city celebrates its own winter carnival since 1886, after a group of proud locals got irked by a report saying St. Paul is “another Siberia, unfit for human habitation in the winter.” The two-week event originally hosted winter games, toboggan slides, and a tall ice castle. Nowadays, the Winter Carnival comes with torch-lit parades, half marathons, and more ice sculptures. January 26 to February 5.
Dartmouth Winter Carnival (Hanover, New Hampshire) – This iconic winter event in New England started in 1910 as a field day for students of Dartmouth College. Before the school became coed in 1972, the boys of Dartmouth use the festival to attract women. Events include a Division 1 ski competition, as well as a less elite ski contest with contestants decked in outrageous costumes. The Dartmouth Winter Carnival also has horse-drawn sleigh rides and a skating party on Occom Park. February 9 to 12.
Steamboat Springs Winter Carnival (Steamboat Springs, Colorado) – The state’s premier winter festival showcases its rich winter sports heritage. The Steamboat Springs Winter Carnival features an endurance-testing biathlon where participants wear vintage fur-trapper outfits and compete on marksmanship and Nordic skiing. Casual visitors can enjoy its ski parade, tubing party, and out-of-the-box street contests. February 8 to 12.
Fiesta Pescado Blanco (Whitefish, Montana) – This 50-year-old festival fetes Ullr, a legendary god of snow living in the nearby Big Mountain. The annual event celebrates the weekend with street and ski parades, winter sports both traditional and unusual (like skijoring, where skiers are towed by horses), ice hockey, the annual Penguin Plunge, and a frigid dip in Whitefish Lake. Do not be surprised by sudden sppearances of pranksters dressed as yetis who kidnap the snow queen, because the grace of Ullr prevails in the end. First weekend of February.
Fur Rendezvous (Anchorage, Alaska) – To cope with the boring long winters, a group of fun-loving residents put up sports tournaments in the 1930s, coinciding when miners and trappers come home with goods in tow. The “Rondy” is a 10-day celebration of Alaskan life, featuring the running of the reindeer and sled dog races. Participants join a wide array of outdoor sports including snowshoe softball, ice hockey, and frostbite footrace. February 24 to March 4.