By Kristan Schiller
If the snow and ice have you singing the blues, turn your mood around by heading to one of a handful of carnivals across the country that celebrate the season with costumes, ice sculptures and quirky winter rituals. Your stylish, 5-passenger 2014 Chevrolet Equinox with available all-wheel-drive is the perfect vehicle to pull up to the winning ice castle. Valet, anyone?
Middlebury Winter Carnival
Middlebury, Vermont (February 14-17)
This small New England liberal arts college boasts the longest-operating student-run winter carnival in the nation—this winter is its 90th. Gather for three days of frolicking: a bonfire, fireworks, snow sculptures and more. Make sure to cheer on Middlebury’s skiers in the Snow Bowl, the college’s ski run (free admission), and get tickets for the carnival’s Ice Show online.
Anchorage, Alaska (February 22-March 3)
In 1930s Anchorage, a few frisky locals decided to hold a sports tournament one weekend to coincide with the time frame during which miners and trappers hauled their wares into town. Fast forward 80 years and this tournament has morphed into Fur Rendezvous, a 10-day celebration of all things Alaska, with the running of the reindeer and sled dog races that bring visitors from across the globe. Known as “Rondy,” the carnival also features snowshoe softball, ice hockey and a frostbite footrace.
Saranac Lake Winter Carnival
Saranac Lake, New York (January 31-February 9)
Temperatures in the mountain village of Saranac Lake often plunge to minus 30. So it’s no wonder ice palaces have been part of its local culture since 1898, when ice was harvested for refrigeration. This winter carnival—the oldest in the U.S.—still includes the trademarked Ice Palace, as well as alpine and Nordic skiing, a frying pan toss, curling, concerts and fireworks.
Whitefish Winter Carnival
Whitefish, Montana (February 1-3)
For more than 50 years the residents of Whitefish, Montana have paid homage to the local god of snow, Ullr, with a weekend celebration called Fiesta Pescado Blanco, featuring ski parades, ski racing, ice hockey and skijoring (an activity in which skiers are towed by horses). There’s also a Penguin Plunge, a freezing group dip in nearby Whitefish Lake.
St. Paul Winter Carnival
St. Paul, Minnesota (January 23-February 2)
Apparently it was a newspaper reporter who instigated this now-celebrated carnival by writing in 1886 that St. Paul was “another Siberia, unfit for human habitation in the winter.” A group of proud residents made it their mission to prove the journalist wrong with two weeks of winter games, tobogganing and ice castle sculptures. Today, the carnival includes a torch-lit parade, a half-marathon and an ice castle contest.
With its array of standard safety features to help you stay out of harm’s way, including six air bags, a steel safety cage, the LATCH (Lower Anchors and Top tethers for Children) system, four-wheel antilock disc brakes and StabiliTrak Electronic Stability Control, the 2014 Equinox is a great choice for all sorts of winter road and weather conditions.
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Kristan Schiller, a Travel Editor at Fodor’s, is also a blogger and writer whose articles have appeared in National Geographic Traveler, Town & Country, Organic Spa Magazine and Entrepreneur, as well as on the Huffington Post and Salon.com.