Best of the Fests

Saranac Lake Winter Carnival's opening fireworks over the ice palace; photo by Mark Kurtz/Sarnac Lake Winter Carnival
Saranac Lake Winter Carnival’s opening fireworks over the ice palace; photo by Mark Kurtz/Sarnac Lake Winter Carnival

Enjoy the rustic beauty of Maine with the Auburn Winter Festival (January 24-26). Catch a ride by sled or snowmobile, explore the terrain on a pair of skis, snowshoes, or a snowboard, and test your skills with the three-on-three pond hockey tournament. For a more laidback experience, take the family to see the stunning ice sculptures and the torchlight parade. auburnmaine.gov

Central Park’s Winter Jam celebration (January 25) is all about snow! Overnight, Central Park transforms into an oasis for outdoor sports enthusiasts. Adventure-seekers of all ages can bring their own equipment or borrow it free of cost for cross-country skiing or snowshoeing. Plus there are ski and snowboard lessons available. nycgovparks.org

The Saranac Lake Winter Carnival (January 31-February 9) originated as a single-day festival intended to bring playfulness to the grueling Adirondack winter. Now, over a century later, the celebration spans 10 days and offers everything from sports and dances to parades and fireworks (which are displayed above the legendary Ice Palace). saranaclakewintercarnival.com

Every year, thousands of winter lovers travel to Quebec City for the world’s biggest carnival of the season: the Quebec Winter Carnival (January 31-February 16). Traditional events include the international snow sculpture competition, nighttime parades, a light-up ice castle, ice canoe racing, and a snow bath, where brave attendees join “Bonhomme,” the carnival’s friendly mascot, for a romp in the snow while wearing bathing suits! This year’s carnival will introduce a magical world inspired by Peter Pan that’s certain to enchant children and adults alike. quebecregion.com

During the winter months, Vermont seduces travelers with its ample supply of snowy slopes. But the Burlington Winter Festival (February 1) has something to offer revelers of all interests. A yearly tradition for over two decades, this day-long festival provides ways to have fun both indoors and outdoors. Take part in an array of family activities, enjoy some live entertainment, and watch as masterful carvers turn mounds of snow into magnificent sculptures inspired by local shops and landmarks! enjoyburlington.com

Recognized as New England’s biggest winter celebration, the Newport
Winter Festival 
(February 14-23) features more than 150 different events for cold weather fanatics of all ages. Bundle up and head to this quaint seaside city for mouthwatering chili and chicken wing cook-offs, a playful children’s fair, and a special concert by the cast of “Beatlemania.” To add to the feel-good vibes, a portion of the event’s proceeds will go right back into the community, benefitting local nonprofits and small businesses. newportevents.com

The Lake George Winter Carnival (February weekends) is a lakeside celebration that features beach bonfires, ice-diving demos, hot-air balloon rides, a giant snow slide, kite flying, and chili and chowder cook-offs. lakegeorgewintercarnival.com

Stowe, Vermont’s best-known ski town goes all out for the Stowe Winter Carnival (January 18–February 2) with snow volleyball and golf, youth hockey and snowboard half-pipe competitions, ski racing, fireworks, and a kids’ carnival. stowewintercarnival.com

The sprawling urban festival that is Quebec’s Montréal en Lumière
(February 20–March 2 features light shows, guest gourmet chefs, life-size board games, a Ferris wheel, and a massive sled slide–plus music, theater, dance, and circus performances. montrealenlumiere.com

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