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McCall Winter Carnival: What You Need to Know Before You Go (2024)

One of the most anticipated winter events in Idaho is the annual McCall Winter Carnival. It dates back to the 1960s and has grown tremendously over the years bringing thousands to town for this fun winter tradition. There's a few things you need to know before you go up to explore the fun with your family.

This year's carnival is looking to be a little different than years' past. One big change is the length of the event. This year it will be held from February 23rd to 25th, 2024, instead of over seven to ten days as was normal in the past. The goal is to help alleviate the stress of the massive influx of visitors on local business owners.

This year, the theme is "Color Outside the Lines," encouraging everyone to unleash their creativity and embrace the unexpected. Organizers have crammed more than 100 unique events into this jam-packed weekend. Think live music, parades, dog sledding, and fireworks. Oh, and tons of great food and drink options too!

Man and three kids in front of a humpty dumpty ice sculpture in front of a yellow store with the sign Stacey Cakes.
2023 Sculptures were amazing!

One of the biggest highlights of the McCall Winter Carnival is the GIANT and insanely impressive ice sculptures around town. This year's lack of snow and more mild temperatures have made this piece a little more difficult. Here's a statement from the Carnival about some changes,

"These beloved attractions are a staple at Carnival. But the weather this year has been super challenging when it comes to getting snow blocks for sculptures to freeze. And while the weather might not be cooperating, creativity can still shine when it comes to sculptures. So this year...forget the rules! We know how much time and effort it takes to build these and with mild temps, getting the base for our sculptures is near impossible. So we are throwing out the rule book on structural restrictions and allowing builders to use anything and everything at their disposal. Plywood, Plastic, Chicken Wire - Anything is fair game to help these sculptures create a solid foundation and base shape.Let's live up to our theme, "Color Outside the Lines," and use those imaginations. Add lights, splash some color, or incorporate any mixed media to enhance the creation. The sky is the limit. Thank you to everyone who puts long, long hours into building sculptures. We appreciate all of your efforts!"

This year artists will be awarded various prizes including, "Best Snow Sculpture - Amateur & Professional, People's Choice, Best Storefront - Amateur & Professional and Best Outside The Lines Medium - Amateur & Professional." Sculpture maps will be available at the Chamber and online before the event.

One event your family won't want to miss is the Children’s Torchlight Parade on February 23rd at 5:30 pm. Expect to find glow sticks, hot chocolate and real torches carried by the McCall Fire Department.

Looking to ski or snowboard in the area while you're there? Check out the local hill Brundage Mountain Resort or Tamarack Resort about 30 minutes away near Donnelly.

Rather sled? You'll find lots of great spots - even just down the little hill next to the lake during the Carnival!

Want some recommendations for food and drink? Check this old post or this one for our personal faves.

Hot tips:

-Be sure to read through this guide before you go and while you're there.

-Follow along on Instagram and/or Facebook for updates.

-Sign the McCall Promise.

-Dress appropriately! You'll be outside quite a bit so be sure you have layers and comfy, grippy shoes.

-"Don't turn left." (It's kind of McCall's slogan.) Turning left tends to clog up traffic so when possible, turn right (again and again) to get to where you want to go!

-Be patient and kind! It's a busy couple of days!

-Have funnnnnnn!


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