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McCall Winter Carnival

2023's Magical Theme: Fairy Tales, Folk Tales & Tall Tales!

Although the McCall Winter Carnival is over this year, we want to share a glimpse into what the City of McCall has been offering Winter visitors since the 1960s. This annual event was first inspired by the Payette Lake Winter Games in 1924 when 248 visitors came by train to McCall. And even though the Sports Carnival ended in 1941, the community brought it back in the 1960s, and the event has grown larger each year since then. Learn the History of the McCall Winter Festival and how some of those early visitors could take a ride across the icy lake on a sleigh powered by an airplane motor to the ice sculpture contest you see now at the Carnival. Visit McCall shares more Carnival History plus information about future events, where to stay, things to do and great places to eat in and around McCall.

And here is info for the 2024 McCall Winter Carnival and the changes you can expect.

And even though the Winter Festival has ended for this year, there are so many things to do year round in McCall and the surrounding area. Check out Visit McCall for ideas and inspiration for your next (or first) trip to McCall - winter, spring, summer or fall. This town has a lot to offer all year!

Walking around the downtown area:

The signature event for the Carnival is the ice sculpture contest. Artists come from throughout the West to compete. Here are just a few that we found on our walk through town.

We also enjoyed lunch at The Cutwater restaurant at Shore Lodge. The meals were delicious and the staff was so friendly and helpful! We look forward to returning for a weekend stay at the lodge and enjoying lunch or dinner on the patio when the weather is warmer.

There are also many other great restaurants and lodging opportunities in and around McCall.

View from the patio at Shore Lodge, looking across Payette Lake.

After lunch, we watched families sledding and walking out across the frozen lake.

We finally headed home and decided to stop at Tamarack Resort on the way back to Boise. Tamarack is like a hidden village that offers skiing, snowboarding, plus Nordic and snowshoe trails in the winter. In the summer, there is biking, hiking, ziplining and watersports on nearby Lake Cascade. In the village area of Tamarack, you will also find dining and lodging.

Getting There

To get to McCall, head north on Highway 55, either going through Boise or by heading West to Meridian and heading north through Eagle to get to Highway 55.


DISTANCE FROM STARTING POINT: One way from home was approximately 111 miles

TIME TO REACH: About 2 hours 20 minutes



FEES: Not applicable

RECOMMENDED VEHICLES: Any vehicle, but we were happy to have our Jeep in the snow!

PET FRIENDLY: On leash in town

WHEN WE WENT: During Winter Carnival

I'm Here - Now What?

  • Bring your smart phone or camera

  • Sightseeing

  • Bring your kids!

  • Hiking

  • Biking

  • Skiing

  • Snowboarding

  • Photography

  • Dining in a variety of restaurants

  • Picnicking

  • Shopping

  • Geocaching

To learn more about geocaching and the app, go to

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1 Comment

Feb 18, 2023

wow. since I'm always chilly in the Winter we've only seen one Carnival, many years ago. What a great armchair visit to the North county, beautiful photography.

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