I am ALL about festivals, fairs and carnivals and when I realized I had never been to the McCall Winter Carnival, I knew I needed to go this year! I ended up going with Jack to visit friends the first weekend of the carnival and it was so fun. Each year the winter carnival is two weekends long and usually starts the last weekend in January and goes until the first weekend in February.

Every year they do a different theme and this year was Legends, Myths and Superheroes. Check here for next year’s dates and themes. I’m not going to lie, this festival is VERY crowded—probably the most crowded I’ve ever seen McCall in my life! However, it was still a blast and I highly recommend going, even if it’s just one time.

mccall winter carnival

A Weekend Guide to the McCall Winter Carnival


The Shore Lodge - This is McCall's most famous resort. It's located right on the Payette lake and has gorgeous views, great amenities, and wonderful restaurants. If you're looking for a bit more of a luxurious stay, then hands down stay at the Shore Lodge! I've loved it every time I've stayed. See most recent prices here.

Airbnb Cabin Rental - I highly recommend booking a cabin if you can find one close to the lake or close to town. Use my link for $40 off your rental! My grandparents have a cabin in McCall, so I've always gotten lucky to get to stay with them, but I've also rented a few different cabins in McCall and it's always been so much fun. See all of the open cabins here.

Hotel McCall- One of the cutest boutique hotels in McCall is hands-down Hotel McCall. They also usually have a deal with Brundage Ski resort to get free passes with a night stay, so check that deal out! It's also located in the heart of downtown and walking distance to all of the wonderful ice sculptures and restaurants of the small downtown area.  See most recent prices here. 
brundage mountain
mccall winter carnival


McCall is seriously one of my favorite places in all of Idaho and I love it in all seasons. See my girls weekend guide to McCall here


While you're here for the McCall Winter Carnival, it's even more special because there are so many different events going on. Here's what I recommend doing:


Check out the ice sculptures - This was the main reason I wanted to come up to the carnival. I had seen the ice sculptures in photos and I was dying to see them in person. The sculptures are scattered all over town, so you can either get a map to see where they are all located, or just go on a scavenger hunt for the best ones. This year there was one on top of Brundage Mountain!


Watch the parade & fireworks - Each big weekend, they will do a parade and fireworks - here's a schedule. This will change each year, but is something to look at to see what other activities there are to do and what times the parade and fireworks are.


Go skiing or snowboarding at Brundage Mtn or Tamarack Resort - I grew up going to Brundage Mtn and it's one of my favorites in Idaho. Head up early (or during the parade hours) to avoid a ton of crowds. When we were up there, it felt like we had the mountain to ourselves because everyone was at the parade in town. Tamarack is also close by in Donnelly and will probably be even less crowded!


Check out the food trucks, bonfire & music - Each night there's live music, food trucks and a bonfire by the water. Check the schedule for times, but it's super fun to listen to live music while you eat some good grub outside.


Go on a sleigh ride, tubing, or fat biking at the Activity Barn - I've been to the Activity Barn to go tubing a few times and have been on a few sleigh rides in McCall to go see reindeer. Both are so much fun! I've also always wanted to try fat biking. Check out the Activity Barn for all of these fun adventures.


Take a dip at the local hot springs - There are a few hot springs around McCall, but some of the ones that you can actually pay to go to are Burgdorf and GoldFork. They both get really crowded during this time of year, so just be conscious of this. Remember to be respectful of these hot springs and don't trash them! Idahoans take their hot springs really seriously. 🙂


Have a night out on the town- The winter carnival brings out all sorts of wild and fun crowds! Head over to Foresters or The Yacht Club for some crazy times. One of them usually throws a party on the weekend, so look out for that and a potential cover charge.


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mccall winter carnival
hot spring idaho
mccall winter carnival
my father's place mccall idaho



Keep in mind that a lot of these places might be busy, so if you can get reservations, try doing that!


Foglifter Cafe - Go here for cozy cafe vibes and great breakfast options.
Ruby's Kitchen - I love their breakfast bowls and all of their food is just so good. They usually have an ice sculpture out front too!
The Pancake House - This is a local staple and the place is HUGE. Be sure to get the massive cinnamon roll.


The CutWater @ ShoreLodge - I love eating here for lunch. It's so peaceful and has a view of the water, plus their food is amazing.
My Father's Place - Go here for the perfect burger, fries and a shake.
Stax - This is a great spot to grab an awesome sandwich and soup.
Salmon River Brewing - Need a liquid lunch? Come here for a beer flight and great pub food.


Bistro 45 - This is a great spot in the summertime because of their outdoor area and bocce ball. I haven't been here in the winter, but there food is great.
Steamers - This is a popular spot for steak and seafood in town.
The Sushi Bar - I haven't been here yet, but everyone I've talked to has said it's an amazing new sushi spot in town.
Chapala Mexican Restaurant - This is an old school Mexican spot that I've always loved going to and they are right on the water.

Ruby's kitchen
Ruby's Kitchen

I hope you have a fun time at the McCall Winter Carnival! Let me know if you've discovered any other really fun activities to do there in the comments below!


Mccall Winter Carnival
mccall winter carnival

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