Searching for things to do in winter? Attend a kick-ass winter carnival or festival in the city or upstate! Sure, you may find it odd to voluntarily sign up for outdoor activities during the colder months, but these events are worth the hype (and the frost bite.) We’ve ranked our favorite winter carnivals and festivals below where you can sip hot cocoa, munch on savory dishes, go ice-skating and ogle beautiful snowscapes.
RECOMMENDED: Full guide to winter getaways from NYC
Find a winter carnival in New York State
At the always-festive Bank of America Winter Village at Bryant Park, head to FrostFest to drink mulled wine and eat s'mores inside heated igloos and ride bumper cars on the ice rink. Folks can don their fanciest formal wear (and skates) for the waltz-soundtracked “Ice Ball.” There's also the opportunity to dine on mouthwatering fare from local vendors, attend a cozy sweater pup meetup, a silent disco and much more winter fun. Date Jan 25-Feb 3. (bryantpark.org/series/frostfest); Free
If toasting marshmallows on the beach, warming-up with a steamy bowl of chili, flying a massive kite on ice, riding on a dogsled and learning how to dive in frozen water piques your interest, Lake George is calling. There are new events every weekend in February that are perfect for folks seeking adventure or a life of leisure. Saturdays & Sundays in February (lakegeorgewintercarnival.com); various prices.
For ten days, this fete attracts more than 100,000 people to dozens of displays, parties and competitive events. Join in on a treasure hunt (there’s a plastic medallion hidden somewhere in Onondaga County, and you could win $1,000 if you find it), a chowder cook-off, team trivia and a Wing Walk (yes, that's a hot wing crawl), which you certainly should not miss. FYI: Upstate New York wings are the best. February 14–24 (syracusewinterfest.com); various prices.
Itching to plan a getaway next month? We recommend taking a trip to Saranac Lake for a weekend of cold-weather fun. Some events are free (like the Gala Parade, winter carnival parade, bands’ sound-off and a fireworks display), while others require a small fee, like Snowshoe Softball and the Lion’s Club Chili Sale. Make sure to bring your camera and explore the Ice Palace (a massive walk-through igloo-type castle) so you can act out Disney’s hit movie Frozen IRL. This year's theme is "Prehistoric Park" so we reckon there will be ice dinos, no? February 1–10 (saranaclakewintercarnival.com); Free.
From winter to spring, Saturday nights heat up with some cool jazz on Long Island’s East End. Live On the Vine brings top-notch musicians to the area’s storied wine-tasting rooms and with 90 exciting events over a five-week period, you have plenty of opportunities to drink and jam out to awesome bands. Feb 22–Mar 24 (longislandwinterfest.com); various prices.
Winter Jam is a free winter festival chock-full of events for New Yorkers of all ages. Upstate ski destination Gore Mountain blows fresh snow into the heart of Central Park, where festivalgoers can go snowshoeing, sledding and more. There's skiing and snowboarding lessons provided by Lake Placid as well. Be warned: We've experienced some pretty warm and rainy winters the last few years, so Winter Jam may be postponed. Fret not—there is a backup date. Jan 26 11am to 3pm (centralpark.com/events/winter-jam); free.