Want to chill out? I mean really chill out. Then make plans to be part of one of the oldest and coldest ice festivals in the country, the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival. Tucked away in the spectacular Adirondack Mountains of northeastern New York State, Saranac Lake has hosted the Carnival since 1897, taking full advantage of its snow covered canvas and icy air temperatures.
The Carnival, which traditionally takes place the first two weeks of February (the 2020 Carnival runs from January 31-February 9), features 10 days of events, competitions, music, and plain, old winter festival fun for young and old alike.
The centerpiece of the Carnival is the Ice Palace, a can’t miss ice-block structure constructed on the shores of Lake Flower’s Pontiac Bay from which the ice is harvested. Walking through this opaque maze of ice walls and floors proved a bit precarious for my wife and me, but well worth the time and effort. Ice sculptures, which pay homage to the Carnival’s annual theme, front the palace, a favorite of kids who enjoy climbing and sliding on ice. The Ice Palace is free and open 24 hours a day during the Carnival.
If you are visiting during the tail-end of the frigid fest, you must bear witness to the no holds barred Gala Parade winding through the streets, entertaining throngs of hearty spectators with wacky costumes and general craziness. Remember to dress in layers and cover as much skin as possible when attending any of the outdoor events, whether it’s the parade, the four-mile Fun Run or the Woodmen’s Exhibition. The village’s average high temperature in February is 29 degrees F, with a low of 5.
And be sure to treat yourself to a Carnival button ($4), proceeds of which benefit the annual event. Resident and famed cartoonist Gary Trudeau has designed the buttons since 1981.
Guest Author: Kevin Fritz
I have an innate ambition to experience the world first-hand. In the past couple of years, I traveled to Saudi Arabia for research, and spent Christmastime with my wife, Christi, in Brussels and Paris, and Easter in Dublin. We have explored Bolivia, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Belgium, France, Poland, Costa Rica, the Virgin Islands, Canada and the U.S. A journalist for 40 years, I authored the novel Crossover, and received my BS in Journalism from Ohio University. Check out Kevin’s portfolio.