Experience the Magic at these Winter Festivals in Lake George, NY
February 3, 2024
When the cold hits and the snow starts to fall, many people flock indoors. But in Upstate New York, we celebrate the winter with festivals of all kinds. From the holiday season until the ice thaws in the spring, New Yorkers are always looking for outdoor activities. And the popular vacation destination of Lake George has taken notice by bringing some new events this winter season. From interactive display to stunning light shows, check out these new winter festivals in Lake George, NY.
The newest creation in Lake George feels truly magical. Winter’s Dream is an immersive and interactive light display located inside Fort William Henry. As guests enter the fort, they are immersed into a story of winter wonder wherein the concept of the event is described.
Ethereal Light Displays
Inside, there are five different installations to enjoy. Ethereal music is heard from every corner, and flashing lights indicate the looping light show is beginning. Each bastion of the fort has its own mini show, so be sure to visit every one of them. Every area has its own aesthetic and style of light show.
There’s Full Moons, featuring large blue orbs that twinkle as if in a storm. The Frozen Lake feels like you are walking through a misty waterway, with colored lights washing their way around you. Winter Woods is the light display that folks can notice from outside the fort. It features vertical light poles where the lights ‘jump’ up and down throughout the trees. The last bastion was easily were I took the most photos. First Snow features blue and green laser lights that are aglow in the mist of the fort. It was extra magical as the snow began to fall around us, twinkling as the lights hit the snowflakes.
At ground level in the center of the fort are the more interactive displays. Guests will have a blast placing themselves into whimsical winter scenes created out of shadows. The main attraction is undoubtedly the cabin. Using digital projections, the cabin comes alight as people throw “snowballs” (plastic balls) at the sides of the cabin walls. As each ‘snowball’ hits the cabin, a crochet square fills in the spot that was hit. It is such a joy to watch as you and the people around you light up the cabin walls as an interactive art display.
Of course, there is a hot cocoa station and fire pits to warm up by. No matter how much fun you’re having, outdoor winter festivals in Lake George can get cold! To finish up the experience, you’ll head back inside to find a cafe serving a variety of drinks and hot food. And there’s a gift shop with a plethora of themed souvenirs to purchase.
Tickets for Winter’s Dream
During peak dates (weekends, holidays, and school breaks), admission to Winter Realms is $29.90 for adults, $23.90 for seniors, $22.90 for children 4-12, and free for kids 3 and under. You can save quite a bit by going during off-peak when admission is $19.90 for adults and seniors, and $16.90 for children. A discounted rate is available for groups of 12 or more, and visitors can also purchase parking in advance.
Guests are encouraged to book their visits in advance by purchasing tickets online. The festival continues through March 30th.
For the previous two years, Lake George was lucky enough to be chosen as a location for the ever-popular Ice Castles. This nationwide event selects just a few wintry locations to construct massive structure out of ice. And while Ice Castles in Lake George was a smash hit the first year, it melted away in 2023. Unfortunately the festival staff couldn’t fight with the warmer temperatures to keep the structures in tact.
So this winter, the festival has shifted into a new, non weather-dependent event that spans several months. This new festival remains in Charles R. Wood Park in the heart of Lake George. When visitors enter, they are immediately entranced by the tunnel of lights twinkling before their eyes. It also makes for a fantastic photo opportunity. (One of the staff members immediately offered to take our photo there.)
As you make your way throughout the park, there are so many fun things to look at and photograph. There are roughly 900,000 lights spread out through the displays. The main attraction has to be the giant rainbow-colored tree at the center of the park. That tree alone has over 10,000 lights on it!
Activities inside Winter Realms
I particularly enjoyed walking through the ice sculpture park. Winter Realms invited a Ukrainian ice sculptor to carve the animals of the zodiac. The amount of detail on them was absolutely incredible, and they look great lit up with all the lights.
The light walk is a lot of fun for the kids, and everyone will enjoy the lit-up 3D printed crystals and butterflies along the back trail. Don’t miss the chance to wander through the maze of light poles or explore the inside of a giant present box.
For an additional fee, visitors can purchase an ice-skating ticket to practice their skills at the ice skating rink. Rentals are available, and included in the ticket price.
Of course the festival looks best under a fresh blanket of snow, but is beautiful no matter the weather. To help guests warm up from the winter cold, there is a food truck with hot chocolate and hot dogs for purchase. Plus there are a few fire pits to hang out at.
Tickets for Winter Realms
During peak dates (weekends, holidays, and school breaks), admission to Winter Realms is $20 for adults, $15 for children 4-11, and free for kids 3 and under. You can save a few dollars per person by going during off-peak when admission is $17 for adults and $14 for children.
Guests are encouraged to book their visits in advance by purchasing reservations online. The festival continues through March 3rd and operates nightly from 4pm til 10pm.
We can’t talk about winter festivals in Lake George without mentioning the annual winter carnival. Now in its 62nd year, the Lake George Winter Carnival is a month-long celebration of local food, drinks, sports, and fun since 1961. Every weekend during the month of February brings a new series of activities for locals and tourists alike.
There truly is something for everyone during the carnival. Chili and chowder cook-offs, cupcake decorating, and sundae fundays will appeal to the foodies. For more hands-on experiences, there are snowman building contests, paint & sip events, and multiple tie-dye sessions. The athletically-inclined will be sure to compete in the keg toss, skillet throw, or glacier golf tournament. Even the dogs can get in on the action with canine talent competitions.
Some of the more unique activities include an outhouse race across the lake, ice races, and an ATV poker run. Of course, no winter festival near water is complete without a polar plunge. And yes, there are horse-drawn carriage rides and fireworks.