Visit our Schedule page for the most updated info about the carnival.

Winter Carnival FAQs

Answers to the many questions asked each year
King Lee Foster at Ice Palace
photo by Andy Flynn

Are dogs allowed at the Ice Palace and outdoor events?

We don't prevent people from bringing their dogs, but we don't recommend it. Every year, we see sad pups holding up frozen paws, limping, shivering and scared of the crowds and loud noises of carnival. It's best to leave them at home in a warm, safe place. If you can't leave them home, there are professional dog boarding and doggie daycare facilities in our area that would love to take care of them while you go out and have fun! If you must bring your dog, please keep their comfort in mind and watch for signs of them being too cold so you can take them inside somewhere warm. Remember that they are walking and standing directly on snow and ice, and can't always communicate if it is painful for them. 

What is the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival?

The Saranac Lake Winter Carnival is a 10-day festival held in the village of Saranac Lake, located in New York state's Adirondack Mountains. It starts on a Friday and ends on the weekend closest to President Abraham Lincoln's birthday. It encompasses a variety of events and traditions, including an Ice Palace, a Gala Parade and Kiddie Parade, sporting competitions, performances, torchlight skiing, three fireworks displays and royalty.

Who organizes the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival?

Founded in 1971 and officially called the Society for Promotion of Winter Carnival, Saranac Lake, Inc, the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival Committee is a group of volunteers dedicated to organizing an annual midwinter festival in early February. This communitywide event traces its roots to a one-day carnival held in 1897 by the Pontiac Club.

How do I contact the Winter Carnival Committee?

By mail: Saranac Lake Winter Carnival, P.O. Box 829, Saranac Lake, NY 12983.
By email: Use the contact page on the website.
In person: Visit one of the meetings, which are held September through April. See the schedule on the website for the latest meeting time and place.

How do I find the official Winter Carnival schedule?

Find the latest schedule on the Winter Carnival website.

How can I buy buttons?

Buttons go on sale at various locations in Saranac Lake about a month before the Winter Carnival. For the list of sale venues, see the Winter Carnival website.

How long has Garry Trudeau designed the Winter Carnival buttons?

Since 1981

How many Winter Carnival buttons do you order, and how much to they cost?

The Committee orders 6,000 buttons each year, and they cost $4 each.

How many buttons do you sell?

Sometimes buttons are sold out, and sometimes there are a couple hundred leftover. After Carnival, the buckets are picked up from the local stores, and if any are left, they are counted and will be sold throughout the year. Mail orders are accepted anytime; more information is on the Carnival website (under History).

Does it cost anything to tour the Ice Palace? What hours is it open?

The Ice Palace is completely free and open to the public 24 hours a day. 

When do you take down the Ice Palace?

This entire process is completely dependent upon the whims of Mother Nature. If it stays cold, cloudy and dry, the Palace lasts for a while. Sun, rain and wind can make the Palace unsafe quickly. The lights are removed first — while it is still safe to work within the walls. The Committee doesn't want tons of ice crashing down on the electrical crew while they are removing the wiring. Soon after, when the Ice Palace is deemed subject to possible collapse, it is closed to the public. It can still be observed for a couple of days from behind the safety barricades. It then is knocked down and the wait until next year begins.

I want to help with the Winter Carnival. How do I volunteer?

Go to the Carnival website and send an email (from the contact page), or come to the committee's meetings.

Who can attend the Grand Marshal Reception? Is there a cost?

Anyone can attend the Grand Marshal Reception, and there is no cost for the reception. The reception is to honor the current Grand Marshal and the rest of the Court.

Is there a cost to attend the Royalty Dinner?

Yes, there is a cost and that may vary from year to year. Reservations need to be made for the dinner about a week prior to the event to provide an accurate head count. Specifics are found on the official schedule.

How can I see Mark Kurtz's slide show?

The slide show is first shown at the Ice Palace on the last evening of the Winter Carnival. Then Mark typically shows it soon after the Carnival is over at Saranac Village at Will Rogers. People may also look for the slide show on Time Warner Cable Channel 2 by the end of the week following Carnival. The slide show is not available for viewing on the Internet.

Where do I find results from the sporting events?

Results are posted on the Winter Carnival website as soon as possible after each event.

Is it an Ice Castle or Ice Palace?

It is traditionally called an Ice Palace.

How do you choose the King and Queen?

Nominations are sent in from the community. Past Kings and Queens get together one night and silently read each nomination. A secret ballot is taken and counted. The majority of votes become the new King and Queen, and they are announced at the Coronation Ceremony.

How do you choose a theme each year?

The Winter Carnival Committee solicits ideas from the public, meets in March to trim the ideas down to four or five, and votes on a winning theme, which is finalized by late April.


Top Sponsors
Guide Boat Realty
Casella Waste Systems Inc.
North Country Community College
Hotel Saranac
Adirondack Bank
Taylor Rental
American Management Association
Can-Am Rugby Tournament
Tops Friendly Markets
Adirondack Health
See an easy-to-read schedule of events.
Recent Info/News
2021 Carnival Theme is 'Mask-erade'
2020-09-15 - Members of the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival Committee, and members of the public who attended the committee meeting on September 15, have chosen ‘Mask-erade' as the theme for the 2021 Carnival.
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Celebrating its 124th anniversary in 2021
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