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Weird, Wonderful Winter

The Sandpoint Winter Carnival returns to downtown and Schweitzer!

By Abigail Thorpe

sandpoint winter carnival

After a two-year hiatus, one of Sandpoint’s most beloved events is back to liven up the gray days of winter. The Sandpoint Winter Carnival will return for its 48th year this February 11 through 27, with over two weeks filled with fun and activities for the entire family, from the streets of downtown to the top of Schweitzer Mountain.

Last year COVID-19 sadly halted the continuation of the Sandpoint winter tradition, but it’s back this year with all of the beloved events that have made it a local favorite to look forward to since its inception in 1973. In this, its 48th year (what would have been its 49th had the virus not intervened,) attendees can look forward to a full schedule of events from live music, a pub crawl and, of course, the inaugural Parade of Lights to a host of downhill skiing and festive events up on the mountain, including the beloved “Let it Glow” fireworks show.

So as the snow continues to fall and the gray winter days feel colder and longer than ever, mark your calendars for the sure cure to the winter blues, and head on out with family and friends to enjoy the return of family fun and hometown happenings this month, brought to you by the Chamber of Commerce, Schweitzer and local businesses.

While events are still shaping up, there is plenty to look forward to and mark on your calendar now. This year’s Winter Carnival theme is “Weird, Wonderful Winter,” and the events kick off on Friday, February 11, with the Parade of Lights downtown, presented by the Sandpoint Chamber of Commerce. The parade is free for local businesses to join and is a fun family friendly event that brings the community together to celebrate our local businesses and individuals, the start of the Winter Carnival, and all of the fun outdoor events that make our North Idaho winters special.

“Sandpoint and Schweitzer Mountain Resort coordinate with events for the Winter Carnival, between the events happening both at Schweitzer and in Sandpoint, there is something for everyone,” says Kate McAlister, president and CEO of the Sandpoint Chamber of Commerce. “From the kick-off Parade of Lights, followed by a Block Party on Third Avenue by Jeff Jones Square, to the closing event, the K9 Keg Pull down Cedar.”

The Sandpoint Winter Carnival offers a host of fun activities to get the community together, but it also allows Sandpoint’s businesses to get out in the public eye and take a direct part in the action. It can be a good boon for business during the winter’s slower season while also providing an opportunity for businesses to reconnect with their customers in a fun-filled way that brings the entire community together.

Any business can join in the carnival, even offering their own event to contribute to the celebration. Visitors from around the area—including Spokane and Coeur d’Alene, and as far away as Seattle—venture into Sandpoint to enjoy the activities and experience some small-town charm.

In addition to the Parade of Lights and Block Party, attendees can look forward to the return of the Weird, Wonderful Pub Crawl—an all-day event for adults to enjoy some fun out on the town. Western Pleasure Guest Ranch will be offering sleigh rides and dinner—the perfect way to truly appreciate a North Idaho winter in true small-town style: log cabin, home-cooked dinner and all. MickDuff’s will be hosting its annual Cornhole Tournament where locals can battle for the title of Cornhole Champion, and restaurants and venues throughout town will be hosting music throughout the duration of the carnival. The Chamber and local businesses are still in the planning process for additional activities at businesses throughout town, and attendees can stay up to date with the latest schedule of events at

And, of course, throughout the entirety of the Winter Carnival, Schweitzer Mountain will be hosting an entire schedule of events up on the mountain, from the Schweitzer Olympics Starlight Racing to live music at Taps on the weekends, and the annual Coca Cola “Let it Glow” fireworks show.

“It’s a nice return to normal for us! The ‘Let it Glow’ Parade and fireworks show is really geared toward families, and watching those little kids ski in their own ‘torchlight’ parade is just so fun. We’ve really missed being able to host this!” says Dig Chrismer, marketing manager at Schweitzer.

The Schweitzer Olympics is back with Starlight Racing February 4, 11, 18 and 25, with a special Starlight Finale Party February 25 in Taps with live music and costumes. The theme this year? Snolympics! Teams of five can participate in the race event, with any combo of skier, snowboarder or telemarker, and the top three scores per team each week count, with weekly team scores counting for your final team score. After racing, stop by Taps for nightly parties, music and more. Registration and fee required; register at

The SARS Western Regional Speed Series will be taking place at Schweitzer February 13 through February 18, but even if you’re not racing, plan to hit the slopes and relax with some après ski live music and drinks at Taps over the weekend after your final run!

The 10 Barrel Brewing Co. BeerCat (here kitty kitty) will be in the Schweitzer village over President’s Day weekend, so stop by and enjoy your favorite 10 Barrel brew. And don’t forget to be up on the mountain for the annual beloved Coca Cola “Let it Glow” fireworks show on February 10 over President’s Day weekend—it’s an incredible show the entire family will enjoy, and the perfect way to light up the February night.

And the festivities don’t stop there! In addition to the kickoff downtown and all of the fun on the mountain, downtown businesses will continue to host live music and activities through February 27, with the ever-popular K9 Keg Pull on Cedar Street closing out the events on Sunday. Dogs of all sizes will be racing down snow-filled Cedar Street pulling anything from kegs to beer cans as the crowd cheers them on. It’s one of Sandpoint’s oldest and most anticipated Winter Carnival events, and a great way to end the fun-filled carnival.

“Winter Carnival is a celebration of the community we love and all the ways we can embrace our longest season in North Idaho. Sharing these moments together as a community is really good for us all. For example, watching the K9 Keg Pull—it doesn’t matter if you prefer Dachshunds or Labradors, it’s all in good fun and spirit,” says Chrismer.

Winters are long in Sandpoint, but it’s just one more reason we love our fun-filled winter paradise, and the Sandpoint Winter Carnival is back to lend some much-needed fun and light to the cold. Mark your calendars, brush up on your speed racing skills, and get ready for two weeks of all the fun, cheer and community spirit you can handle. More events are being added to the festivities, so stay up to date at , and don’t forget to invite your friends and family.

If you’re a business owner and are interested in being included in the parade or in hosting an event, reach out to the Sandpoint Chamber of Commerce at 208.263.2161.

As of press time, the Sandpoint Winter Carnival was scheduled to take place. Due to the continuing pandemic, there is the possibility that event schedules may change or events canceled completely.

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