Saranac Lake, Franklin County
Annual Winter Festival
In 1897, the citizens of Saranac Lake decided to create some entertainment for the growing number of tuberculosis patients who had come there for ‟the cure.” Local organizers started out with two days of skating races, harness races on the ice, a parade, and a fancy costume ball. By 1898, with the aid of an architect there for his health, the carnival added an ‟ice fortress” to the event. Later the Ice Palace became an annual highlight. Early in the 20th century, it became increasingly elaborate, with towers and turrets, electric lights, and a grand finale, which included ‟storming the palace,” first with torches, later with fireworks. Today, scores of volunteers are involved in every aspect of the festival. By its recent centennial celebration, the carnival included races, snow sculptures, concerts, dinners, dances, the crowning of royalty and a proud claim to be the oldest festival of its kind in the country.