Your Guide to the McCall Winter Carnival

The McCall Winter Carnival is a 10-day celebration of all things winter and one of our favorites of the season. Carnival kicks off on Friday, January 24, 2020 this year and will mark the 55th year of festivities.

This year, the Carnival will be celebrating “It’s A Kid’s World” as the central theme. In addition to traditional Carnival events like Fireworks, the Mardi Gras Parade, and snow sculptures, the McCall Winter Carnival will bring a number of exciting events including the Idaho Sled Dog Challenge, the Flashpoint Snow Bike Race, Winemaker Dinners, Bingo Nights, Hockey, the McCall Starz on Ice Show, a Theater Production and tons of Live Music.

With everything planned over the 10 days of fun, you may be wondering where to start! Here is our guide for making the most of your Carnival experience and our recommended must-see events.

First Weekend: Family Fun

Children’s Torchlight Parade – This family tradition is the official kick-off to Winter Carnival. Children ages 11 and under are welcome to participate as part of this glowing procession into Depot Park where the bonfire will be lit to signal the start of the Carnival! Stick around to enjoy the opening ceremonies and fireworks display over Payette Lake. Parade lineup begins at 5:30pm.

Fireworks – Following opening ceremonies and the Torchlight Parade, stick around downtown and watch an amazing fireworks show over Payette Lake. The best viewing locations are from Legacy Park.

Mardi Gras Parade – A family favorite at Carnival! The Mardi Gras Parade will be held at noon on Saturday, January 25th. Line the streets to watch fun floats, bands, and grab all the beads and candy you can!

Hockey – The puck drops on the annual Winter Carnival hockey match-up as BSU takes on USC. Two chances to watch: Friday, January 24, and Saturday, January 25. The fun begins each night at 7pm. Don’t miss great hockey, fun fan games and fabulous period break entertainment!

Flash Point Snowbike Race – Motocross junkies rejoice! Snowbiking is a relatively recent form of winter recreation, primarily pioneered by 2Moto and Timber Sled, two Idaho-based companies, where a ski and a lightweight, high-performance track are fitted to modern, off-road motorcycles.Flash Point will be held Saturday, January 25, at Riverfront Park starting at 2:30pm.

MCPAWS Monster Dog Pull – The “dog-gone” most fun event of Winter Carnival! Bring Fido or Fluffie to Alpine Village Sunday, January 26th to try their luck pulling weighted sleds. All size dogs welcome and no experience necessary to enter! All proceeds benefit the MCPAWS Regional Animal Shelter.


Midweek: Culinary, Arts, and More!

Idaho State Snow Sculpting Championships – Head down to Depot Park to witness the making of snow sculptures for the Idaho State Snow Sculpting Championships. Building begins on Tuesday, January 28, and awards are placed on Friday, January 31.

Idaho Sled Dog Challenge – The Idaho Sled Dog Challenge is a premier race in McCall, Idaho and a qualifier for the Iditarod. In 2019, the Challenge also became a Yukon Quest qualifier, the only such qualifier in the lower 48 states. Also, in 2019, the Idaho Sled Dog Challenge partnered with Oregon’s Eagle Cap Extreme and Montana’s Race to the Sky to form the Rocky Mountain Triple Crown. World class mushers from the United States and Canada come to the Idaho Sled Dog Challenge to compete in a 300-mile race with 50,000 feet of cumulative elevation through Idaho’s West Central Mountains. This event also offers a concurrent 100-mile amateur race and a 37-mile junior race for new mushers ages 14 to 17. Events happen all week during Carnival – visit their website to get the full scoop on where to watch!

Wine Dinners – Back by popular demand, Rupert’s at Hotel McCall will be hosting three special dinners midweek at Carnival. On Monday, January 27, Rupert’s will give the reins of the kitchen to the team from Petite 4 in Boise for a chef’s collaborative, on Tuesday, January 28, Abeja Winery will be featured and on Wednesday, January 29, Dunham Cellars will be featured. Each dinner begins at 6:30pm.

Bingo – Three chances to play! Party Bingo will be hosted at Forester’s Club on Tuesday, January 28, Grand Bingo will be held at the Northfork Lodge on Wednesday, January 29, and Family Bingo will be held on Saturday, February 1, at the McCall Senior Center. Tickets are $10 to each event.

Snowshoe Golf – Snowshoe golf is in its 20th year at Carnival and will be held at the McCall Golf Course throughout Carnival. Clubs and balls are provided, but bring your own snowshoes! All proceeds benefit the American Legion.

Beard, Hairy and Sexy Leg Contest – A wild and crazy Carnival tradition! This year’s contest will be held at the Yacht Club on Thursday, January 30. Enter or cheer for competitors in categories such as “Best Looking Beard,” “Ugliest Beard,” “Most Unusual Beard,” “Hairiest Legs,” and “Sexiest Legs” to name a few! Entry is $5 and open to the public!

An Evening for Education – Thursday, January 30th, join us at the McCall-Donnelly Education Foundation fundraising event from 5pm – 7pm at the Shore Lodge Upper Pavilion Room. Savor a variety appetizers and sip premium spirits – bourbons, vodkas, and more. All proceeds go toward MDEF grants, funding incredible education programs for McCall-Donnelly students.


Second Weekend: Your Weekend Getaway

McCall Starz on Ice Extravaganza – Manchester Ice Center presents the McCall Starz on Ice. Experience the excitement of former Olympic and World medalist figure skating right here in McCall! Watch from the stands or secure a table for on-ice seating. Two shows will be held on the second weekend, both Friday and Saturday nights!

Snowmobile Fun Run – Load up the sleds and head to Francis E. Wallace parking lot for the annual Snowmobile Fun Run on Saturday, February 1. Registration begins at 9am with the run starting at noon. Stick around for the After Party!

Closing Ceremony and Fireworks – Closing Ceremony fireworks start at 7:00pm on Saturday, February 1. The snowmobile raffle winner will also be drawn at this time!


For the full event schedule, visit the official McCall Winter Carnival website.

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