McCall Winter Carnival

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605 North 3rd Street, McCall, ID, USA



January 27th, 2023 – February 5th, 2023


Fairy Tales, Folk Tales, & Tall Tales

Welcome to the McCall Winter Carnival, a celebration of all things winter! The McCall Winter Carnival was inspired by the Payette Lake Winter Games, first held in 1924 when a train from Boise brought 248 visitors to McCall, Idaho. The official McCall Winter Carnival started in the 1960s and over the years, the Carnival has grown into an iconic Idaho event bringing more than 60,000 people to McCall each year!

During Carnival, enjoy our famous snow sculptures, Torchlight and Mardi Gras Parades, live music, daily events spanning everything from comedy shows to art auctions, snow bike races to the Monster Dog Pull and much more.

We invite you to explore our schedule of events – and be sure to check back often as we will be adding new events each week!

View & Download the Official 2023 McCall Winter Carnival Guide



You may not know it, but the inspiration for Winter Carnival actually dates back to 1924 when the town created the Payette Lakes Sports Carnival to beat the winter doldrums. Events included dog and snowshoe races, ski jumping, horse ski-jouring, and a tug-o-war where the prize was a box of oranges. In addition to these events, visitors could also take an exhilarating ride across the lake ice on a motor sleigh, a standard sleigh outfitted with and airplane motor for power.

As guest lodging was limited in the 1920s in McCall, the overflow of visitors were housed by residents who opened their homes for the event. In addition, a special train with sleeper cars attached was positioned at the train station and reduced rates were offered as another form of accommodation for visitors. The first Sports Carnival was attended by approximately 2,000 people, including then Idaho Governor C. Moore.

The Payette Lakes Sports Carnival lasted several years, but began to fade out as organized clubs and the development of permanent facilities such as the Little Ski Hill made sporting competitions more formal and the need for festivals to hold such competitions were not needed. The Sports Carnival eventually evolved into an “Ice Break-Up Contest.” A person could purchase a ticket and enter a guess as to what day, hour, and minute the ice on Payette Lake would break up in the spring. The last contest was held in 1941 and ended as gambling became illegal.

In 1965, the community rallied to bring back a winter festival to McCall motivated by a desire to promote skiing in the area. Brundage Mountain Resort had opened a few years earlier, in 1961, and the first official Winter Carnival was held on the same weekend as the University of Idaho Ski Invitational at Brundage which included events such as slalom racing, cross-country skiing, ski jumping, and snowshoe races, snowcat races. The first Winter Carnival in 1965 was a two-day event that drew regional visitors to the area.

Since that time, the McCall Winter Carnival has continued to grow and expand into the 10-day festival we know today.


What says “Welcome to Winter Carnival” better than touring all of the amazing snow sculptures throughout town? The sculptures are a signature part of the Winter Carnival festivities and we would like to invite everyone to tour the town to see what our local businesses dream up this year!

Sculpture Info

Don’t miss the Idaho State Snow Sculpting Championships in Depot Park starting midweek of Carnival.

Artists from all over the West will come to McCall to participate in the Annual Idaho Snow Sculpting Championship. This competition has an outstanding reputation for providing the opportunity for artist to create sculptures in a scale much larger than would be possible in any other medium. The artistic experience and the camaraderie with fellow artists makes this competition a truly fun and rewarding artistic experience. Location of the event will be downtown with the lake and Brundage Mountain as a back drop.

2023 Sculpture & Event Map


All of our 2023 Winter Carnival events outdoors and FREE of charge, but for those who’d like to participate in the raffle that does require a ticket, please see ticket purchase information below!


We are excited to partner with Mile High Power Sports to raffle off a 2023 Can-Am Outlander XT 570. Tickets will be available at McCall Area Chamber and Mile High Power Sports as well as some various events around town leading up to the start of the McCall Winter Carnival.

Learn More

We will also sell tickets @ the Vendor Court on weekends during Carnival!

Tickets are $10

(only 3,000 to be sold!)

Winner will be drawn on Saturday, February 4th, 2022 at 6:30pm – you do not need to be present to win!

Tickets available @ the McCall Chamber office
(605 N 3rd Street) or in the Vendor Court during Carnival.


At Winter Carnival, enjoy more than 100 unique events throughout the 10 days. Events change from year to year, but there are many events held annually.

Below is a quick reference list of typical annual events you can expect at Carnival.



• Local Snow Sculpture Contest Winners Awarded

• Opening Ceremonies

• Fireworks over Payette Lake

• Vendor Court & Beer Garden

• Live Music on the Main Stage

• Alpine Playhouse Theater Production


• Pancake Breakfast

• Craft Faire

• Mardi Gras Parade (starts @ noon)

• Flashpoint Snowbike Race

• Live Music on the Main Stage

• Vendor Court & Beer Garden

• Alpine Playhouse Theater Production


• McPAWS Monster Dog Sled Pull

• Snowshoe Golf

• Vendor Court


• Idaho Dog Sled Challenge

• Wine Dinners

• Happy Hours & Food Specials

• Idaho State Snow Sculpting Championships



• Idaho State Snow Sculpting Championship Winners Awarded

• Vendor Court & Beer Garden

• Live Music on the Main Stage

• Alpine Playhouse Theater Production

• McCall Starz on Ice


• McCall Area Snowmobilers Fun Run

• Snowshoe Golf

• Local Talent Showcase on the Main Stage

• Live Music on the Main Stage

• Vendor Court & Beer Garden

• Children’s Torchlight Parade

• Closing Ceremonies

• Fireworks over Payette Lake

• McCall Starz on Ice

View Event Calendar

2021 McCall Winter Carnival


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McCall Winter Carnival

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