Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Some Of The Best Adirondack Winter Carnivals

2014 Ice Palace (Mark Kurtz Photo)Though my family and I have not attended the entire top ten winter carnival venues touted in National Geographic Traveler, I can say we have attended all the winter carnivals in the Adirondack Park listed below. Each festival holds its own special charm and each celebration is an opportunity to enjoy those unique corners of the Adirondack Park.

Saranac Lake may place second on the National Geographic Traveler’s list, but it tops the list for East Coast winter carnival fun. First held in  1897, the Saranac Lake’s winter carnival has a convoluted history. With over a century of experience to draw from, it has grown into a ten-day festival of sports, races, parades, live performances and fireworks.

Highlights include tubing races, outside movies, snow golf, radio plays, and curling exhibition. Evening fireworks mark the end of the festival on February 9. This year people can channel their Celtic roots during this last week of carnival. Keep in mind that dragons and unicorns do exist in Saranac Lake. Doubters just need to find the palace made of ice.

Lake George’s carnivalhas a different schedule. Instead of a weeklong series of activities,  this winter festival is held on weekends through the end of  February. Each weekend (February 8-9, 15-16 and 22-23) has a slight variation of events but the core happenings are the same. Specific family-friendly activities are available like petting zoos, games, hot air balloon tether rides, dog sled rides, polar plunge, sky diving competitions and a giant ice slide at Shepard’s Park. Each weekend has its highlights such as outhouse races, chowder cook-off, car races, kite flying and of course, fireworks.

Raquette Lake has held its winter carnival for over 50 years. This February 15-16 take part in the frying pan toss, ice golf or watch a chainsaw competition. The Saturday fireworks from the lake gesture in the winter celebration.

For those around Inlet and Old Forge area, their winter carnival is celebrating the Olympic Winter Games with snowshoe and cross-country ski treks from February 14-16.  Parades, bonfires, fireworks and community dances are just a brief overview of what to expect during this salute to the Olympic spirit.

The 29th annual Winterfest in Indian Lake invites participants to Candyland themed parade, cardboard sleds races, snow horseshoes, and Ski Hill Torch Run. This festival is a kick-off the first annual Snocade.  Long Lake is never to be forgotten with its one-day annual skating races and largest snowman competition.

The list above goes to show there is more than one way to celebrate the wonders of an Adirondack winter. Now that the schedule and activities are set to go, my family just needs to figure out a way to get a lot more snow.

Photo of the 2014 Saranac Lake Ice Palace by Mark Kurtz of Mark Kurtz Photography

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Diane Chase is the author of the Adirondack Family Activities guidebook series, Adirondack Family Time. She writes about ways to foster imaginative play through fun-filled events and activities in the Adirondack region.

From her home in Saranac Lake, Diane also writes a weekly family-oriented newspaper column for the Adirondack Daily Enterprise and keeps her own blog Adirondack Family Time. Her writing and photography has appeared in numerous newspapers, magazines, marketing companies and advertising agencies.

She even finds time to assist her husband with Adirondack Expeditions guiding families and young adults in the High Peaks.

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