Guide to Connecticut Winter Carnivals

January 14, 2012 9:00 AM

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

By Dani Frank

Labor Day Weekend begins summer with a splash, and fall hosts enough harvest festivals to keep a person full of apples and pumpkins into December. Give winter the same special treatment, and attend one of Connecticut’s Winter Carnivals and Festivals. Wrap on a scarf, venture out of your house and brave the Connecticut chill; you won’t be disappointed. From ice carving competitions to a chili cook-off, ‘tis the season to visit one of these four fetes and pay homage to the nutmeg state at wintertime.
chester carnivale leif nilsson Guide to Connecticut Winter Carnivals

Photo Credit: Leif Nilsson

Winter Carnivale- February 19, 2012
North Quarter Park
Chester Center, CT 06412
(860) 526-4442
Hours: Daily 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Enjoy some authentically Connecticut merriment, at the 22nd Annual Winter Carnivale in Chester. Start your day at the ice carving competition, filling the town center with unicorns, mermaids and more. Cheer on Chester’s “Iron Steed Awards”, given to the three most creative rides in a parade of festively decorated tractors rolling down the street. Make sure to indulge in the most charitable occasion to enjoy chili, at the “Chilly Chili Cook-off.” The $5 entry fee benefits the Chester Company Fire House, and the chili will benefit your taste buds and body temperature!

mount southington winter carnival Guide to Connecticut Winter Carnivals

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Mount Southington Winter Carnival- February 25, 2012
Mount Southington Ski Area
396 Mount Vernon Road
Plantsville, CT 06479
(860) 628-0954
Hours: Daily 9 a.m.- 10 p.m.

Enjoy some fun in the sun, even if you are covered head to toe in a snowsuit, on February 25th at Mount Southington Ski Area for their annual winter carnival. Strap on a helmet and get ready for the mountain’s Famous Cardboard Box Race, a high stakes ride down the snowy slopes that will leave the craftiest racer $100, and a fancy trophy, richer. The prestigious race will offer up awards for Fastest Time, Worst Crash and more. For a laid-back afternoon, snack on Southington’s edibles and sway to the music of the ski area’s DJ, as you cheer on those brave souls willing to throw caution to the wind in the name of fame, money and cardboard.

huskies thinkstock Guide to Connecticut Winter Carnivals

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Lyman Orchard’s Annual Winter Festival – February 2012 TBD
Lyman Orchards
32 Reeds Gap Road,
Middlefield, CT 06455
(860) 349-1793
Hours: 9 a.m.- 6 p.m.

For Middlefield’s Lyman Orchard’s, the 40th annual Winterfest will be an affair to remember. Munch on some free fruit offerings and watch in awe as artists slice through ice as if it were made of water! Top carvers from around the Northeast will gather to compete for the best sculpture of the festival, per the decision of the Winterfest’s judges. The weekend-long event will also host some classic winter wonderment, with horse drawn sleigh rides for a tour of the Connecticut countryside under snow, and a sled dog mushing demonstration featuring Connecticut Valley Siberian huskies. Join in the fun at one of the nation’s historic, oldest working businesses.

bald eagle thinkstock Guide to Connecticut Winter Carnivals

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Essex Winter Festival and Eagle Watch- February and March 2012 TBD
Connecticut River Museum (among other locations)
67 Main Street
Essex, CT 06426
(860) 767-8269
Hours: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Home to a number of the majestic bald-headed birds, Essex regularly honors their eagle population, with steam train rides, river tours and more. The two month long celebration is a mix of eagle-themed events and your typical fun winter fare; from a family movie night to weekly game nights at the Ivoryton Library. Lessons in fine art, photography and more will provide newly acquired inset when observing and enjoying Connecticut’s wildlife. Gain a new appreciation for the eagle and our town of Essex, at the annual Winterfest.

Dani Frank is a fashion, travel and culture enthusiast and writer living in Easton, Connecticut. A recent graduate of Hofstra University, she is most happy when traversing the East Coast and beyond and documenting it all for curious readers. Read her further work at

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