Winter can make people crazy, but in Idaho people don’t chop down a door like Jack in “The Shining.” Instead, the state is home to zany winter festivals that embrace the season with sane activities, like donning a bikini and tubing down an icy river or skiing behind a horse with a rope at breakneck speed.If cabin fever is what ails you, here are three 2015 Idaho winter festivals to cure your winter blues.
McCall Winter Carnival
Jan. 30-Feb. 8
Snowshoe Golf with a tennis ball is a sport at the McCall Winter Carnival, celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. The carnival’s highlight is a snow sculpting competition that attracts world champion snow sculptors and more than 60,000 visitors. Last year’s winning sculpture was a life-sized Egyptian pyramid built from 200,000 pounds of ice harvested from Payette Lake. A Mardi Gras-themed parade is led by Sharlie, the town’s version of the Loch Ness Monster. Other activities carnival-goers enjoy include live music, fireworks, ice skating, skiing and hot springs.
Fire and Ice Winter Fest
At the Fire and Ice Winter Fest in the little south Idaho resort town of Lava Hot Springs, people don crazy costumes and swimsuits and, no, they don’t go to the hot springs the town is named for, they float the icy Portneuf River on inflatable tubes. If Santa and the Easter Bunny can do it, so can you. Besides the Polar Float Parade, the festival includes fire performers and a Torch Light Parade, a rubber penguin river race, and the town’s version of Running of the Bulls. There are no bulls, just freezing temperatures and people running down Main Street in swimsuits and flip flops.
Sandpoint Winter Carnival
At some point in history some Scandinavian thought it was a good idea to put on skis, tie a rope to a horse, and get towed on a ride at breakneck speed. The sport of Ski Joring lives on at the Sandpoint Winter Carnival, which also boasts a parade with the World’s Longest Knit Cap, stretching a block long. Other events include Cirque de Sandpoint, with a silk aerial performance and fire dancing; Winter Bites, where more than a dozen restaurants offer samples of their food; and a K-9 Keg Pull where dogs of all sizes race down a snow-packed course pulling anything from full-size kegs to beer cans. A Laser Light Show and fireworks are two of many events at Schweitzer Mountain Resort.