Another Winter – Another Carnival...

Winter is a time of rest and relaxation, peace and quiet. Beachfronts are still and covered with snow. Traffic thins out during the week, and crowds in local bars and restaurants are cozy and familiar. As the chill takes a seemingly permanent hold, and February rears its frigid head, there is a revival of weekend excitement – winter carnival season!

Winter carnivals in the Lake George Area welcome merrymaking of all sorts. Volunteers huddle up all year long to coordinate events, recruit local sponsors, and pray for ice. But, loyal visitors plan long weekends around the festivities, no matter the weather. Locals look forward to the influx of business and bustle as a precursor of the summer to come. Winter carnival season rekindles warm fires amidst months-long cold.

Lake George Winter Carnival

When the temperatures fall below freezing for the first time, the countdown for ice is on. The annual Lake George Winter Carnival is an event made to be resilient, becomes sometimes the lake doesn’t cooperate.

In its 63rd year, the annual Lake George Winter Carnival is a mainstay of Lake George. Dazzling lights are strung, and cheerful holiday decorations adorn the village. Sculptors carve ice bars at nearby restaurants to delight carnival-goers. The Lake George Winter Carnival is more than a mere event – it encompasses the entire town for the month of February.

Planning your weekend at the Lake George Winter Carnival? Here's a glimpse at the full schedule:

With a laundry list of events taking place, you’re going to want to arrive in the Lake George Village early. The opening ceremony, held during the first weekend, is the kick-off of every Lake George Winter Carnival. This annual gathering at Shepard Parks gets the celebration officially started. After the opening ceremonies, the Lake George Winter Carnival festivities are in full swing.

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Lake George Winter Carnival, Photo Credit: Kacey O'Brien

The first bowls of steaming chili are served ‘til gone early Saturday afternoon at the chili cook-off. Local restaurants dish out chili and carnival-goers get to play judge, taste-testing the entries and voting for their favorites. Last year’s winner was Charlie's Bar & Kitchen, but the competition is always tough – you are guaranteed some top-shelf chili no matter which variations you try.

After you’ve tasted a bowl or two of the Lake George Area’s best chili recipes, head over to the outhouse races for a real Lake George Winter Carnival tradition. Lasting the test of time, the outhouse races have been held since 1983, and continue to be one of the carnival highlights for both spectators and participants. Year-after-year, teams construct hilariously artistic, and hopefully aerodynamic, outhouses. They race on frozen Lake George or the nearby shore for honor, glory, and bragging rights. Beat the chill settling in and head to the Hot Chocolate Bar for a mug of warm cocoa to sip while watching the spectacular fireworks show after dusk.

The Lake George Winter Carnival has always been a family celebration. Kids of all ages are welcome to participate, and every weekend offers new activities to enjoy like arts & crafts, scavenger hunts, and a snowman building contest.

While the outhouse races and chili cook-off are two highlights of that first Saturday and Sunday, the rest of February has a full slate of activities to partake in. Join fellow revelers to brave the icy water for a Polar Plunge, cheer on those competing in the ATV & Motorcycle Races, or bring your clubs and play in the six-hole “Glacier” Golf Tournament. Every weekend is worth attending!

Imported ImageCar races on Lake George during Lake George Winter Carnival

Polar Plunge (L), Photo Credit: Kacey O'Brien 

And yes, sometimes the lake doesn’t freeze. Fortunately, the Lake George Winter Carnival has contingency plans in place for most of the ice dependent events. The carnival has been held every year since 1961, and a little bit of warm weather doesn’t scare the organizers or attendees. The Lake George Winter Carnival is as much a part of the Lake George Village at the iconic steamboats and Prospect Mountain, and is looking forward to many more successful years!

Brant Lake Winter Carnival

In a quieter corner of the Lake George Area, the small community of Brant Lake is roused from its winter slumber every February by the Brant Lake Winter Carnival. Held on frozen Brant Lake outside Jimbo’s Club at the Point, this winter carnival packs a ton of entertainment into a one-day schedule.

Planning your day at the Brant Lake Winter Carnival. Here’s a glimpse at the full schedule:

Organized by the Tri-Lakes Business Alliance and a small group of dedicated volunteers, the Brant Lake Winter Carnival delivers on its promise of tradition and seasonal enjoyment.

Crowds stand around bonfires in the snow, warming their hands and sharing a laugh or two. Old friends catch up and new friends are made, in the midst of wonderful and lively events.

A few of the competitions at the Brant Lake Winter Carnival are absolute staples. The outhouse races are a cherished highlight, while the fry pan toss is unique to this event. Other contests include broomball tournaments, curling, ice hockey shoot-offs, and human foosball.

Brant Lake Winter CarnivalBrant Lake Winter Carnival

Brant Lake Winter Carnival, Photo Credit: Kacey O'Brien 

The list of activities doesn’t stop there. Some of the winter classics include all-day sledding and skating. Jimbo’s Club at the Point serves a lunch menu inside and other refreshments are available along the shore.

As night falls, the jubilations wrap up with a fireworks show. The Brant Lake Winter Carnival is a solid day of merrymaking at the lake, frozen as it may be.

Upon spring's arrival, the ski trails turn into slush and the ice bars melt. Frozen lakes thaw into open water once again. Sleepy winter communities awake from hibernation and transition into bustling summer towns. Waterfront restaurants fill to capacity, rental marinas sell out of inventory, and the beaches are a sea of brightly colored swimsuits. The summer is long and warm, but the approaching winter is a lingering thought. When those first snowflakes fall and sheets of ice begin to form, instinctively you’ll know that winter carnival season has finally arrived again.

Interested in more gleaming, winter sunshine and fun in the snow? Check out the Hague Winter Weekend!