13 winter festivals to put on your road trip itinerary

Ice sculptures at a winter festival

Beat cabin fever and celebrate the beauty of winter with a memorable cross-country road trip with your loved ones! The United States is home to the some of the best winter festivals that honor the plethora of fun and exciting activities that can only be enjoyed when the temperatures drop and the snow starts to fall. 

Tell your family to get packing, because you’re surely going to want to visit some (if not all) of the 13 winter festivals we’ve compiled for your upcoming winter road trip!

People attending the Icefest in Chambersburg, PA and standing outside the Central Presbyterian Church

1. Ice Fest Chambersburg

In 2002, a group of local volunteers threw together a winter festival to get people out of their houses and back into the community. Over two decades later, Ice Fest Chambersburg PA each January is one of the most happening events in town! 

Enjoy plenty of ice carving demonstrations, live musical entertainment, and dozens of family-friendly activities like scavenger hunts and art shows. If what you’re looking for is a unique winter experience with a vibrant neighborhood ambience, Ice Fest shouldn’t be missed!

  • When: Jan 25th — 28th, 2024; Times TBD
  • Where: Chambersburg, PA
  • Cost: Free to enter

2. Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest

Of all the winter festivals in Philadelphia, this is one of our personal favorites. For 30 years, the Blue Cross RiverRink has transformed into a winter wonderland for the holiday season. It’s a great spot to see the lights in Philadelphia, go on kid-friendly rides, and glide on an NHL-sized ice skating rink all set along the sweeping views of the Delaware River Waterfront. 

Get cozy in the festival’s warming cabins, test your luck at the arcade, and snuggle up while you make s’mores at one of the fire pits available for rent. There are plenty of Philly-famous concessionaires as well like Chickie’s & Pete’s and Black Iron BBQ, which sell everything from fries to pizza and local beers to cocktails.

  • Where: 101 South Columbus Boulevard, Philadelphia, PA
  • When: Nov 24th, 2023 – TBD 2024; Daily including holidays, Times TBD
  • Cost: Free to enter (Amenities such as ice skating, cabin, and fire pit can be reserved in advance)
Source: Delaware River Water Front

3. Stowe Winter Carnival

The 50th annual Stowe Winter Carnival in Vermont is an unforgettable experience in a real-life winter wonderland. The town comes alive with plenty of activities, like quirky sports events, ice carving competitions, and stargazing sessions. If you’re a volleyball enthusiast, be sure to check out the festival’s legendary Snowvolleyball tournament!

We suggest taking some time to explore the delightful town and its natural beauty. Surrounded by mountains, Stowe is home to world-class skiing, quaint shops and boutiques, and an exciting arts scene. Check out our favorite things to do in Stowe!

  • When: Jan 18th — 20th, 2024; Times TBD
  • Where: Stowe, VT
  • Cost: Free to enter

4. Michigan Tech Winter Carnival

Since its inception in 1922, Winter Carnival at Michigan Tech has gone from one of the top winter festivals in the state to one of the best in the nation! After all, Michigan experiences mountains of snowfall every year, so why not turn it into art? 

Walk through campus to see dozens of intricately crafted snow statues created by the students themselves. Participate in a medley of activities including broomball, sleigh rides, and comedy shows. Watch the students compete in games of soccer, bowling, and tug of war, and maybe try your hand at the sports yourself!

  • When: Feb 7th — 10th, 2024; Times TBD
  • Where: Houghton, MI
  • Cost: Free to enter

5. Polar Bear Plunge

The Polar Bear Plunge in Annapolis is a chilling event that invites participants to take a quick dip or a full swim in the frigid waters of the Chesapeake Bay. This invigorating experience is said to cleanse the body and mind. More importantly, it’s a unique way to embrace winter at its peak. 

Not feeling motivated to jump in the ice-cold bay? Spectators are welcome to watch the plunge and enjoy festivities like live music, winter games, and beach sports. Either way, it’s likely to be an event you’ll never forget!

  • When: Feb 3rd, 2024; 10:00 a.m. — 4:00 p.m.
  • Where: Annapolis, MD
  • Cost: Free to enter; $100 per person to participate
Source: Maryland Plunge

6. Lake Geneva Winterfest

It’s been almost 30 years since the community of Lake Geneva started celebrating winter at the Lake Geneva Winterfest. Today, the festival is home to the U.S. National Snow Sculpting Championship, the only national snow sculpting championship in the country! 

Once you’ve checked out the sculptures, head to Riviera Plaza and Flat Iron Park, both situated on the lake’s scenic shore, to enjoy both the vistas and the community activities. Celebrate winter as a family by visiting the Downtown Ice Sculpture Walk, snuggling around beach bonfires, enjoying live entertainment, enjoying art and other activities for all ages. 

  • When: Jan 31st — Feb 4th, 2024; Times TBD
  • Where: Lake Geneva, WI
  • Cost: Free to enter
Source: Visit Lake Geneva

7. Saint Paul Winter Carnival 

The Saint Paul Winter Carnival is a historic winter festival that has been celebrated for over 130 years! Also coined the “Coolest Celebration on Earth,” it’s the oldest winter festival in the country. 

There are plenty of wintry activities to keep everyone busy at this event, which spreads throughout downtown Saint Paul, Rice Park, and Landmark Center. Check out the unique snow and ice sculptures, winter-themed parades, live music shows, scavenger hunts; there is even an ice fishing competition! This cherished winter tradition brings the local community together in one of the United States’ loveliest cities. 

  • When: Jan 25th — Feb 3rd, 2024; Kick off lightshow takes place Jan 25th at 6:00 p.m.; Times TBD
  • Where: Saint Paul, MN
  • Cost: Free to enter

8. Saranac Lake Winter Carnival

Started in 1897, the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival is the longest-running event of its kind in the eastern United States! Over the years, the party has grown to the 10-day festival that it is today. Expect a new theme each year, from “Totally 80’s” to “A Creepy Carnival.” There are curling competitions, icicle contests, downhill skiing events, and even scavenger hunts. Don’t miss the parades — yes, there are two parades taking place, a gala parade and a kiddie one! 

As if participating in all the different ways that Saranac neighbors have created to enjoy the snow isn’t memorable enough, cap off your experience by watching one of three separate and spectacular fireworks shows. 

  • When: Feb 2nd — 11th, 2024; Times TBD
  • Where: Saranac Lake, NY
  • Cost: Free to enter
Source: Observer-Dispatch

9. Newport Winter Festival

The Newport Winter Festival in Rhode Island is known as New England’s Largest Winter Extravaganza. Enjoy ten exciting days of food, festivities, and fun for the whole family. You won’t want to miss the official lighting of the Ice Palace, the Grand Parade, nor the Skater’s Ball! Witness live snow sculpting, musical entertainment, and culinary tastings for kids and adults. 

While you’re there, consider signing up for a historical tour of the town. Newport in the winter is vibrant and alluring, making it an ideal destination this time of year. 

  • When: Feb 16th — 25th, 2024
  • Where: Newport, RI
  • Cost: Free to enter

10. Dartmouth Winter Carnival

The Dartmouth Winter Carnival is a must-see event and, according to its planners, was “inspired (by) a Hollywood movie; and was called ‘the Mardi Gras of the North’ by ‘National Geographic’!” Every year, a fantastic snow sculpture is showcased on the campus green. In fact, in 1987 Dartmouth made it into the Guinness Book of World Records with the tallest recorded snowman in history at 47.5 feet high. 

There are team-based ice sculpture contests, parades, live entertainment, and other winter-themed sports activities for everyone to enjoy. The Dartmouth Winter Carnival offers a unique opportunity to discover its beautiful, sprawling, and (hopefully) snow-covered campus in the height of the winter season!

  • When: February 2024
  • Where: Hanover, NH
  • Cost: Free to enter

11. North Adams WinterFest

There is nothing quite as magical as the Berkshires in winter, and a trip to the North Adams WinterFest is an ideal excuse to visit! The event showcases local arts and crafts at wintry outdoor markets, ice sculpting competitions, and horse-drawn wagon rides. 

Head to the town’s Main Street to warm up by a community bonfire after an afternoon of ice skating! Hungry? Wander to the chowder cookoff or sip on some hot cocoa and homemade cookies. There is something for everyone in this captivating Massachusetts town during WinterFest. Coming from Boston? Why not check out our Boston van rental options?

  • When: February 2024
  • Where: North Adams, MA
  • Cost: Free to enter

12. Heart of Lewisburg Ice Festival

The Heart of Lewisburg Ice Festival kicks off every year in early February with public ice carvings. You’ll have the chance to watch these incredible craftsmen transform downtown Lewisburg into an icy, artsy winter wonderland! 

If you’re feeling sporty, participate in a Frosty 5K, a Polar Plunge into the Susquehanna River, or, if this feels too cold, watch a winter-themed movie in the local theater and witness a Chili Cook Off. No matter what you have planned, Lewisburg is a lovely village to spend an afternoon wandering, dining, shopping, and catching the Festival’s annual winter parade.

  • When: February 2024
  • Where: Lewisburg, PA
  • Cost: Free to enter
Source: Lewisburg Downtown Partnership

13. Maine Lakes Winter Carnival

It’s quite possible that there’s nowhere more breathtaking than Maine in the winter. Maine Lakes yearly Winter Carnival is a whimsical celebration of all things cold and all the ways to beat the cold! 

Kick off the party at the Ice Queen Pageant before trying your hand at an ice fishing derby. Take a horse-drawn carriage ride to the much anticipated Spicy Chili eating contest (and perhaps participate yourself). There will be live music, delicious bites, and a free ice rink open at the Old Town Hall throughout the day. Cap off your unforgettable winter experience with a sparkling show of fireworks over the lake.

  • When: February 2024
  • Where: Greater Bridgton Lakes Region, ME
  • Cost: Free to enter

Plan the ultimate winter vacation

Having trouble deciding which festival to attend? Why not rent one of the best travel vans in the area and hit up multiple! With our comfortable and safe transportation options, you won’t have to narrow down your winter celebration to just one event. Get the family bundled up and your GPS ready for a road trip of winter festivals by grouping the following destinations together:

  • Mid-Atlantic:
    • Ice Fest Chambersburg, Chambersburg, Pennsylvania
    • Blue Cross RiverRink Winterfest, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
    • Heart of Lewisburg Ice Festival, Lewisburg, Pennsylvania
    • Polar Bear Plunge MD, Maryland
  • New England:
    • Stowe Winter Carnival, Stowe, Vermont
    • Maine Lakes Winter Carnival, Bridgton, Maine
    • North Adams WinterFest, North Adams, Massachusetts
    • Dartmouth Winter Carnival, Hanover, New Hampshire
    • Saranac Lake Winter Carnival, Saranac Lake, New York
  • Mid-West:
    • Michigan Tech Winter Carnival, Houghton, Michigan
    • Lake Geneva Winterfest
    • Saint Paul Winter Carnival, Saint Paul, Minnesota

All I want for Christmas is…a road trip!

This winter season, when all you want is the perfect cozy getaway, Greenvans has the answer you’re looking for. Let us turn your Christmas wish into a reality! We provide high quality sprinter vans to keep you hopping from one enchanting winter festival to the next, surrounded by the warmth and laughter of your loved ones. Our spacious and comfortable sprinter vans will keep you connected and safe as you embark on your next winter road trip.

Whether you’re heading to the magical Ice Fest in Chambersburg or the charming Stowe Winter Carnival, Greenvans has got you covered. Our reliable and well-maintained fleet ensures a smooth and worry-free experience, allowing you to focus less on the logistics and more creating unforgettable memories with your favorite people. Don’t wait any longer! Book your sprinter van rental with Greenvans today.


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