Party in the snow at the McCall Winter Carnival

The annual Mardi Gras parade heads through downtown McCall at noon on Saturday, Jan. 30.
The annual Mardi Gras parade heads through downtown McCall at noon on Saturday, Jan. 30.

Winter doldrums got you down? Shake off those chilly blues and head to McCall for the all-out frosty celebration known as the McCall Winter Carnival. This mountain town has a rep for wintry fun that goes back to the 1920s, and these days they have it down to an art with parades, snow sculptures, snow sports, ice skating, music, arts and crafts, food, frolic and fun.

Signature events

▪  The Children’s Torchlight Parade winds its way through the heart of McCall starting at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 29. (Lineup starts at 5:30 p.m. at the Community Congregational Church, 901 N. 1st St., at Park Street). The parade heads down East Lake Street to Legacy Park in time for a spectacular fireworks display over Payette Lake at 7 p.m.

▪  Adults get their chance to get wacky on McCall downtown streets at the annual Mardi Gras Parade at noon Saturday, Jan. 30. The “Beyond Tomorrow” theme will inspire futuristic costumes, space-themed floats and more. Oh, yes, and you still can wear your timeless Mardi Gras beads.

Snowy art

When art meets freezing temperatures, you get the beauty and drama of the McCall Winter Carnival’s snow sculptures. See the results of the Local Snow Sculpture competition at businesses throughout McCall starting Friday, Jan. 29. Download a map at McCallChamber.org and take a self-guided tour of the 40 sculptures.

▪  Watch artists create in Depot Park during the annual Idaho State Championship Snow Sculpting Competition starting Tuesday, Feb. 2, until judging at 10 a.m. Friday, Feb. 5. Then just enjoy the art.

On Stage

You’ll find a lineup of local bands on the main stage at Depot Park. Music starts at 5 p.m. Friday, Jan. 29 and Feb. 5; 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 30, and 1 p.m. Feb. 6.

Headliner highlights:

▪  Whiskey SnoCone, 6 p.m. Friday, Jan. 29.

▪  Groove Bone at 5 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 30.

▪  Local DJs take the stage at 5 p.m. Friday, Feb. 5.

▪  Milton Menasco & The Big Fiasco, 6 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 6.

Find more music performances at pubs and other venues at McCallChamber.org.

Fun on ice

Head to the Manchester Ice and Event Center, 200 E. Lake St., McCall, for two fun events:

▪  The fifth annual “Black and Blue” hockey game between Boise State and University of Idaho clubs happens at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 29, and Saturday, Jan. 30. Tickets are $14 general, $7 for 17 and younger at the box office.

▪  See the dazzling Starz on Ice Winter Carnival Spectacular “Legends and Hits” featuring music by The Beatles, Madonna and other icons. It features 52 junior and 13 pros, including the Olympic bronze medalists ice dancers Kim Navarro and Brent Bommentre, and bronze medalist Jeremy Abbott. 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 5, and Saturday, Feb. 6. Tickets are $19 general, $9 for 6-12, free for 5 and younger at the box office only. On-ice seating is $39 general, $299 for a table of eight in advance only at (208) 634-3570.

Food and beverage

▪  The beer garden in Depot Park will pour a lineup of local and regional brews and wine, Fridays and Saturdays, Jan. 29-30 and Feb. 5-6. You’ll find food carts, trucks and booths on East Lake Street at Legacy Park, and new this year at the Alpine Village food court, 616 N. 3rd St.

▪  Chef Gary Kucy, of the Hotel McCall’s Rupert’s Restaurant, will tickle your taste buds with winemaker dinners, featuring Idaho wineries. Prices vary at HotelMcCall.com.

Snow sports

▪  Check out the first Hometown Races, presented by the McCall Winter Sports Club. Anyone can compete in Nordic, Alpine and combined events on Saturday, Jan. 30. Races happen at Bear Basin Nordic Center and Brundage Mountain. Register as a team of three ($75) or individual ($25) at McCallWinterSportsClub.org.

▪  Watch the pros compete in Flashpoint races on Saturday, Jan. 30, at the McCall Golf Club, 925 Fairway Drive. The Nordic Race takes off in waves, starting at 9 a.m. The fatbikes head out at 11 a.m. and the snowbikes at 2:30 p.m.

▪  The MCPAWS Regional Animal Shelter’s Monster Dog Pull starts at 11 a.m. Sunday, Jan. 31, with dogs of many sizes and breeds racing on a short track while pulling a weighted sled. Registration is $15 at MCPAWS.org and proceeds benefit the shelter.

Other stuff

▪  Check out the Winter Carnival Craft Faire at the Hunt Lodge Holiday Inn Express, 210 N. 3rd St., Friday to Sunday, Jan. 29-31.

▪  The 2016 National Christmas tree will come from the Payette National Forest. Stop by the U.S. Forest Service yurt in the downtown food and vendor court and make an ornament to send to Washington, D.C.

Travel and where to stay

▪  If you don’t want to drive to McCall, this year you can take a bus. Share the Bus coaches will run from the Eagle park-and-ride station at Idaho 44 and Riverside Drive to McCall and back. Same-day trips leave at 8 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 30, and Saturday, Feb. 6, and return at 3 p.m. each day. An overnight trip leaves at 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 6, and returns at 8 p.m. Monday, Feb. 8. Tickets are $43 for the round trip at ShareTheBus.com.

▪  Most McCall hotels are booked by now, so check nearby towns such as Riggins, New Meadows, Cascade and Donnelly. InIdaho.com, an online accommodations clearinghouse, has information about hotels, bed and breakfasts, cabins and condos. Check out AirBnB.com for possibilities in homes or other private properties.

Friday, Jan. 29, through Sunday, Feb. 7, McCall. mccallchamber.org/winter-carnival.