Children in “fancy dress” pose in front of the Ice Palace in Saranac Lake, date unknown. Courtesy of the Saranac Lake Free Library’s Adirondack Room
The east coast’s longest-running wintertime celebrations, the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival, kicks off Friday, Jan. 31 and runs until Sunday, Feb. 9.
Below you’ll find everything you need to know about the celtic-themed constellation of over 100 official and informal events spread across the community.
Festivities kick off on Friday, Jan. 31 with High Tea and a performance at the Left Bank Café. Don’t miss the Coronation of Winter Carnival Royalty (7:30pm, Harrietstown Town Hall) and the post-coronation Royalty Reception at the Waterhole.
Night owls can look forward to a ‘cosmic bowling’ dance party with DJ Funky Cold Medina at Romano’s Saranac Lanes at 10:30am alongside other nightlife specials.
Festivalgoers are encouraged to wake up bright and early on Saturday, Feb. 1 to catch the 1st Annual Humble Pie Chess Tournament (Will Rogers, 10am) or the four-mile fun run that blasts off from the Ice Palace at 10am. The Lutheran Church will hold a craft sale at the Harrietstown Town Hall until 4pm; Lake Flower will host a curling exhibition at 11am and if manly men (and women!) chopping up bits of wood is more your thing, head over to Riverside Park for the Paul Smith’s College Woodsmen’s Exhibition (see feature on page ) at 11am and the Ladies’ Fry Pan Toss, the mega-competitive crowd favorite that sees culinary-inclined competitors from across the world congregate in this sleepy mountain town, shortly afterwards at 12:30pm.
Stick around the park to catch the Women’s Civic Chamber “Great Celtic Treasure Quest” Treasure Hunt kick-off at 2:30pm. At 4pm, Inisheer will perform at the Harrietstown Town Hall and from 4-7pm, St. Bernard’s will hold a spaghetti dinner at the school cafeteria.
The evening’s events will start in earnest at 7pm with the lighting of the acclaimed Ice Palace and opening fireworks display. The Winter Carnival Celtic Jam will follow at the Harriettstown Town Hall at 8pm in which all musicians, both professional and amateur, are invited to join in prior to fanning out to the numerous bars and clubs in the area hosting live music and drink specials.
Sunday, Feb. 2 is slated to shift into gear ‘til mid-morning — we can’t imagine why — with the the White Stag Downhill Ski Races at Mt. Pisgah Ski Center at 11am. The center will also host an Arctic Bar-B-Que until 2:30pm, so come on out and get your protein fix.
New this year is an arctic golf event — it’s a great way to put your clubs to use this winter, say the organizers — that will be held at the boat launch from noon to 3pm. Also on deck for today is the Mayor’s Snowball Toss Tournament Challenge (1pm, Riverside Park), ultimate frisbee (Saranac Lake High, 1pm) and the “Spike of Ice” Icicle Contest at the Ice Palace, a peculiar new event which the public is encouraged to risk life and limb to obtain the largest icicle they can and bring it in for judging.
That event begins at 2:30pm and marks the end of the week’s robust event schedule.
Choice events throughout the week include a performance by Jubal Consort and the Barn Cats at the Saranac Lake Laboratory Museum (Monday, Feb. 3), the Grand Marshal Reception and Royalty Dinner (Tuesday, Feb. 4 starting at 5pm at the Red Fox Restaurant), an all-ages snowshoe race (Wednesday, Feb. 5 at Dewey Mountain), torchlight skiing (Thursday, Feb. 6 at Mt. Pisgah Ski Center) and a Talking Heads tribute gig at the Waterhole at 10pm on Thursday.
Friday, Feb. 7 opens on a healthy note with children’s ice skating races (Saranac Lake Civic Center, 9pm) and inner tube races at Mt. Pisgah starting at noon.
Bookworms are encourage to browse the stacks at the Saranac Lake Free Library’s 25th Annual Winter Book Sale from 10 to 4pm before attending the opening reception for “Our Kinda Town”, the month-long exhibition and silent auction to benefit Historic Saranac Lake. That takes place from 5-7pm at the Adirondack Artists Guild.
Of course, live music and drink specials abound into the wee hours.
Get a bellyfull on the morning on Saturday, Feb. 8 at the Mason’s Pancake Breakfast (Saranac Lake Adult Center, 8am-noon); at McDonald’s at 8:30am with the Winter Carnival characters (they’ll also make an appearance at the Ice Palace at 10am) or even at the Lion’s Club Chili Sale (10:30am, Harrietstown Town Hall) before taking your pick of any number of outdoor events, including a rugby game (Saranac Lake High, 10am), the Paul Smith’s College Woodsmen’s Exhibition (Riverside Park, 11am) and the Winter Carnival Gala Parade, which is scheduled to line-up on Upper Broadway at noon and start marching at 1pm.
Post-parade, the parade band will sound off at the Harrietstown Town Hall, opening up the afternoon and evening to a spread of live music across town, including Blind Owl Band (Waterhole, 2pm), the Reel Jig Band (Romano’s Saranac Lanes, 2:15pm), Legend (Romano’s, 5pm), Annie in the Water (Captain Cook’s, 7pm), Susan Grimm and Celtic Quartet (Left Bank Café, 7pm), Half Circle (Charlie’s Inn, 7pm), Sherlock Holmes Radio Plays (Pendragon Theatre, 8pm), Big Boss Sausage Acoustic (Captain Cook’s, 8:30pm), Lucid (Waterhole, 10pm) and Damaged Goods at Romano’s from 10pm ‘til 2am.
Sunday, Feb. 9, the final day of the exhaustive carnival, starts at 10am with adult cross-country ski races at Dewey Mountain and will be followed by slate of athletic events: a pond hockey tournament (Bloomingdale Fields, 11am), volleyball tournament (Saranac Lake Civic Center, 11am), softball game (Elks Field, 11am) and youth cross-country ski races starting at noon on Dewey Mountain.
A spate of low-key events constitute the afternoon — including facepainting from 12:30 ‘til 3pm at the Harrietstown Town Hall; a kiddie parade starting from SLFL at 2pm and the 19th Annual Saranac Lake Young Arts Association Winter Carnival Baroque Concert at the United Methodist Church at 3pm — before everything ends with the “Storming the Palace” closing fireworks display at Ice Palace at 8pm.
For the full schedule, visit saranaclakewintercarnival.com.