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There seems to be a reason to celebrate every season in Idaho and winter is no exception. Bundle up and head out to explore the numerous events happening across the state in celebration of the snow. Whether you’re traveling as a family, with friends or out on a weekend adventure, mark your calendars for these fun and frosty festivals.

Winter Garden aGlow | Through January 1, 2018

Winter Garden aGlow from the foothills above.
Winter Garden aGlow from the foothills above. Photo credit: Idaho Botanical Garden.

Each winter, the Idaho Botanical Garden blossoms into a gleaming winter wonderland during Winter Garden aGlow. Wander through this dazzling display of over 380,000 shimmering lights while carolers fill the air with sounds of your favorite holiday carols. During December, the Holiday Express, a G-scale model train, runs through the English Garden and Santa takes a break from his busy schedule to visit garden visitors on the weekends.

Coeur d’Alene Resort Holiday Light Show & Journey to the North Pole Cruise | Through January 1, 2018

Coeur d'Alene Holiday Lights.
Coeur d’Alene Resort Holiday Lights. Photo Credit: Coeur d’Alene Resort.

Recognized as the largest on-the-water holiday light display in the nation, Coeur d’Alene Resort’s Holiday Light Show is nothing short of spectacular. Over 1.5 million lights illuminate the shoreline and Lake Coeur d’Alene, and are best seen aboard the resort’s Journey to the North Pole Cruise. Departing every evening, the cruise heads to the North Pole to visit Santa’s toy workshop where guests can meet Santa, his elves, Rudolph and the Grinch, and see America’s Tallest Floating Christmas Tree.

Wallace WinterFest | December 29 – 31, 2017

snow on building in wallace
Snowy days in Wallace. Photo Credit: Wallace Chamber Facebook.

Spend a winter weekend in “the center of the universe” at Wallace WinterFest. On this special weekend, spectators will have a chance to witness extreme Skijor – skiers towed by ATVs whipping through downtown Wallace. There will also be vintage snowmobile races, SnowBike races, snow sculpture contests, live music, cider and s’mores at the fire station and a family-friendly New Year’s celebration.

Teton Valley Great Snow Fest | January 12 – 20, 2018

The Great Snow Fest
Enjoy snow sculptures at The Great Snow Fest.

The annual Teton Valley Great Snow Fest takes place in downtown Driggs at the base of the Teton Mountains. The fest commences with a community snow stomp, where everyone trudges through a snowy area, preparing a base for incredible ice sculptures that will be shaped and sculpted over the next week. Be sure to stick around to see which snow sculpture takes home the first-place prize at the Snowscapes Awards Ceremony.

McCall Winter Carnival | January 26 – February 4, 2018

McCall Winter Carnival, McCall
Fireworks fill the sky at the McCall Winter Carnival. Photo Credit: Idaho Tourism

The annual McCall Winter Carnival has become one of Idaho’s most iconic events with 10 days of snowy sights and celebrations. Bundle up to catch the Torchlight and Mardi Gras parades, cheer from the sidelines during snowbike and dog pull races or stroll through McCall to enjoy the famous snow sculptures created each year. More activities are offered in the evenings, including live music on the Main Stage in Depot Park, a beer garden, chocolate and spirits tastings, bingo, comedy shows and more. Start planning your trip with the 2018 event schedule.

Lava Hot Springs Fire and Ice Winterfest | February 2 – 4, 2018

Live Entertainment, Fire and Ice Winterfest, Lava Hot Springs
Live Entertainment, Fire and Ice Winterfest, Lava Hot Springs. Photo Credit: Idaho Tourism

Spend a one-of-a-kind weekend celebrating winter in Lava Hot Springs at the annual Fire and Ice Winterfest. The festival is best known for the Polar Float Parade, where participants dressed in crazy costumes bob down the frigid Portneuf River on inner tubes. The Winterfest weekend is filled with events for everyone, like wine tastings, a chili cook-off, comedy shows, bingo, dive-in movies at Lava Hot Springs Indoor Pool and a water carnival for the little visitors. Be sure to catch the fire performers and Torch Light Parade on Saturday night!

Sandpoint Winter Carnival | February 16 – 25, 2018

Dog Keg Pull Races, Sandpoint Winter Carnival, Sandpoint
Dog Keg Pull Races, Sandpoint Winter Carnival, Sandpoint. Photo Credit: Idaho Tourism

For over 40 years, Sandpoint has been celebrating all things winter during the annual Sandpoint Winter Carnival. Enjoy snow events at Schweitzer Mountain Resort, trivia nights, yard games, a pub crawl, comedy shows, live music, and much more taking place at different locations in town over the 10-day fest. One of the most anticipated events of the carnival is the K-9 Keg Pull, a fundraiser for the local animal shelter where dogs of all sizes race through a snowy course while pulling kegs and beer cans behind them.

There you have it! These seven celebrations all offer at least one quirky event worth experiencing while paying tribute to the wonderful winters we get to experience in Idaho.

Feature image credited to the Coeur d’Alene Resort.


Published on December 14, 2017