Idaho Winter Festivals are Everything but Ordinary

Woohoo!  Winter has arrived!  Grab your coat and mittens and make plans to enjoy these great family-friendly festivals and activities. Idaho has everything you need for starting traditions and making memories.

CDAfire breathing dragonCoeur d’Alene Resort Holiday Light Show, thru January 1
Must see:  The Journey to the North Pole Cruise

Coeur d’Alene glows with a stunning 1.5 million lights and 255 displays. Journey to the North Pole Cruises depart every night from the North Pole Cruise Terminal at The Coeur d’Alene Resort Plaza Shops. Passengers are greeted by friendly elves, and learn the Grinch is planning to sabotage the voyage. To every child’s delight, the boat makes it safely past the Grinch and finds Santa and his elves at the North Pole, where Santa reads each child’s name from his “nice list.”  Revelers may also enjoy “A Christmas Cabaret,” starring Mark Cotter with special guest Jack Bannon, in a performance of holiday music, laughter and stories. Sunday matinees and weekend evening performances run through December 21.  Tickets at (208) 765-4000 or online.  Lodging, dining and cruise packages are available (800) 688-5253 or  

TetonValleyGreatSnowFestTeton Valley Great Snow Fest, January 16-20
Must see:  Snow Bike Race
The 2014 Teton Valley Great Snow Fest will include snow sculpting, ice sculpting, skijoring, snowmobile snowcross competitions, a snow bike race, the Backcountry Film Festival, a comedy show, wildlife cross country ski tour and the festive Snow Ball!  More events are coming so check back or follow the Snow Fest on Facebook!

Snow SculptureThe McCall Winter Carnival, January 24-February 2
Must see: fireworks and snow sculptures

Celebrating its 49th year in 2014, Winter Carnival has evolved into a 10 day celebration of all things winter. Favorites include fireworks over the lake, Mardi Gras Parade, Children’s Torchlight Parade, live music, the polar plunge, McCall Starz on Ice show, bull and bronc riding and the famous snow sculptures. Bring your appetite and a sense of adventure and join in the fun at the lobster feed, Barley Brothers Winter Ale Festival, Ice Fishing Derby, wine dinners featuring local wineries, karaoke, bingo, a comedy show, monster dog pull, the high-octane FlashPoint Snow Bike Race, and more.

lava-fire-iceFire and Ice Winter Festival, February 7-9
Must see:  Polar Bear Float

The event includes a Polar Bear Float down the Portneuf River where contestants compete for the fastest time down the river and for the most original costume in the inner tube flotilla.  There is a Running of the Bulls event, where participants run down Main Street in swimming suits and flip flops just for the fun of it.  After the chilly run, all contestants are rewarded with a soak in Idaho’s World Famous Hot Pools in Lava Hot Springs.  Enjoy wine tasting,karaoke events, chili cook-off, a casino night and a swimming pool carnival for the kids.  Don’t miss the torch parade on Lava Hot Springs’ L Mountain.

Sandpoint Winter Carnival, February 14-23
Must see:  Skijoring

In its 40th year, the Sandpoint Winter Carnival is pure fun celebrating the best of the snowy season, indoors and out.  The 10 days are packed full of entertaining events and activities including a laser light show, ski events at Schweitzer Mountain Ski Resort, the Taste of Idaho with culinary favorites and Idaho wines, Cirque de Sandpoint (featuring a unique group of players, performing various acrobatics, dance routines, firespinning and an aerial show), K-9 Keg Pull, entertaining adult spelling bee, a coffee tasting, and lively parties.  A highlight of the festival, skijoring has a rider on horseback pulling a skier at high speeds around a course of jumps and gates. At Carnival Finale watch skiers decked out in neon ski-wear and glowing lights shoosh down the slopes and enjoy a spectacular fireworks display over the snowcapped mountains.  (Photo credit: Annie Pflueger)