Saranac Lake Winter Carnival

Throw a fry pan, walk through an enormous ice palace, join thousands of people in a midwinter parade

The first time you go to the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival parade, you think: Who in their right minds stands outside for a couple of hours in the dead of winter in one of the coldest communities in the United States watching a parade? But by the time it’s over, you’ll be marking your calendar for the next one. The parade, which draws dozens of floats, bands and other marchers, winds its way down the village’s main drag as thousands of spectators look on. The main attraction, though, may be the towering ice palace built on the shores of Lake Flower. Constructed from foot-and-a-half thick blocks of ice carved from the lake’s frozen waters, visitors can walk inside (and crawl through) the palace once it’s built.

At a glance
  • The carnival, held every year since 1897, is the longest-running winter carnival in the eastern U.S.; the 2015 edition will be the 118th.
  • Besides the parade, the two-week-long event features fireworks, a ladies’ frying pan toss, ski races, curling and woodsmen’s exhibitions and more.
  • Pick up one of the Winter Carnival buttons – Saranac Lake native Garry Trudeau, Doonesbury creator, draws a new one every year. The 2016 Carnival theme is “Heroes and Villains.”