Saturday, January 20, 2024

2024 Saranac Lake Winter Carnival set for Feb. 2-11

2024 creepy carnival Saranac Lake Wiinter Festival buttonSaranac Lake, NY– Visitors from around the world will travel to New York’s Adirondack Mountains from Feb. 2-11, 2024 to celebrate the annual Saranac Lake Winter Carnival with a ‘Creepy Carnival’ theme. They join in the revelry alongside local residents who have made it their family tradition for generations.

The Saranac Lake Winter Carnival is the longest-running event of its kind in the eastern U.S. dating to 1897. The Carnival began as a one-day event to break the monotony of the long Adirondack winter and has grown into a 10-day festival that includes an Ice Palace, sports, performances, two parades and three sets of spectacular fireworks.

Over the years, the Winter Carnival has retained the warmth, charm and camaraderie of a community celebration. The Carnival is organized by an all-volunteer group called the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival Committee, or more formally, the Society for the preservation of Winter Carnival, Saranac Lake, Inc. It is a community-driven festival made possible by the efforts of many volunteers and sponsors.

One of the longest-running traditions at the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival is the Winter Carnival button.The buttons are collected by residents and visitors every year, especially since “Doonesbury” creator and Saranac Lake native Garry Trudeau began designing the buttons in 1981. They can be purchased at various locations around Saranac Lake or by mail order. In 2012, Trudeau also began designing collectible posters as a fundraiser for the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival Committee.

SL Winter Carnival Chairman Rob Russell holding the 2024 Trudeau Poster

Carnival Chairman Rob Russell holding the 2024 Trudeau Poster. Provided photo.

Each year the community chooses a theme for the Winter Carnival and the celebration begins with the coronation of the King and Queen on the first Friday night of the 10-day festival. 

Sporting activities pack the schedule of events at the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival. Traditional winter sports include snowshoe and Nordic ski racing, inner tube and alpine ski races, skating races and hockey games. There is also a series of non-traditional winter sports such as Snowflake Volleyball, Snowshoe Softball, Ultimate Frisbee Games, Snow Rugby, Firemen’s Broomball, a curling exhibition and an exhibition of woodsmen’s logging skills with Paul Smith’s College students. And there are some events unique to Winter Carnival such as the Ladies Fry Pan Toss, Arctic Golf and the Ice Palace Fun Run. A number of cultural activities are also part of the schedule, including a fashion show, concerts, theatrical performances, and the annual Rotary Club Variety Show.

New This Year: Magic Rocks! Illusionist show featuring International Award winning Magician/illusionist Leon Etienne. A Hobby Horse Race- for jockeys ages 6-8, 9-12, and 13-17, and a court race. Build a horse, buy a horse and ride that horse in this Mid-Winter Derby. And an old fashioned Tug o War- Bring your friends to compete in this fun event.

So as not to compete with the Superbowl, the final fireworks are scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 10  at 7 p.m.

The centerpiece of the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival is the Ice Palace, built on the shore of Lake Flower’s Pontiac Bay at the state boat launch. 

2022 ice palace construction

Construction on the 2022 Saranac Lake Ice Palace. Photo by Jackie Ely

The Saranac Lake Winter Carnival began as an integral part of Saranac Lake’s history as a renowned health resort. Back in the late 1800s, the village was a thriving logging community nestled deep in the Adirondack wilderness. Its pristine setting provided healing and rejuvenation for hundreds of tuberculosis sufferers, particularly at the Adirondack Cottage Sanitarium, founded by Garry Trudeau’s great-grandfather, Dr. Edward Livingston Trudeau. In the course of “taking the cure” here, many patients experienced a renewed passion for life, and took every opportunity – in every season – to explore the natural beauty that surrounded them. The long, cold Adirondack winters with snow-covered mountains and ice-encrusted lakes provided the opportunity to enjoy outdoor recreational activities such as skiing, sledding and skating.

In order to break winter’s chill and to promote outdoor sports and games, the Pontiac Club was formed in November 1896, and a few months later, they sponsored a one-day fancy dress winter carnival in 1897, which was expanded into the Pontiac Club Carnival in 1898. The Winter Carnival has not been held every year. After a few years, it was held every other year. And there were huge chunks of years in the 1920s, 1930s and early 1940s when it was not held. However, it was resurrected in the winter of 1947/48 and has been held annually since that time. The Ice Palace, which had not been built since 1920, made a comeback in 1954.

For more information, including the latest schedule of events, visit the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival website at
For the full schedule, click here!


Waterhole building with crowd

Photo courtesy of The Waterhole.

The Waterhole Music Lounge is excited to announce the live music lineup for their most renowned concert series, Winter Carnival at the Waterhole. The 2024 lineup features 13 different bands including a plethora of fan favorites, and pairs them up with talented opening acts that are sure to entertain and excite.

For a full lineup and week-long passes, visit the Waterhole website at

Photo at top: 2024 Button Design. 

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Community news stories come from press releases and other notices from organizations, businesses, state agencies and other groups. Submit your contributions to Almanack Editor Melissa Hart at

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