This year’s McCall Winter Carnival was one for the books after locals and visitors flocked to the charming town to experience ten days of nonstop entertainment and fun. From comedy shows to snowmobile races and the highly anticipated return of the Mardi Gras Parade, the charming seasonal celebration was chock-full of memories that will last a lifetime to visitors and Whitetail Club members alike.

One of the best things about winter in McCall is how it brings people together. This annual winter carnival is no exception. Each year, the winter carnival has a different theme, such as “Legends, Myths, and Superheroes!”, “There’s ‘Snow’ Place Like Home” and “1 Valley, 100 Years.” More than 60,000 people visit McCall each year to celebrate the most magical time, and visitors are already planning their return for the 2024 winter season.

History of the McCall Winter Carnival

The McCall Winter Carnival has been around since 1924. Originally named the Payette Lakes Winter Festival, a train from Boise brought 248 visitors to McCall to attend the festival. It became an annual event, and after a break in the 1940s and 50s, it returned as the McCall Winter Carnival in 1964, aiming to boost local businesses during the winter season.

McCall’s winter tradition began with residents constructing sculptures in front of their homes. It eventually moved to downtown, where local businesses contributed to the festive spirit. The snow sculptures have since gained national and international recognition, with ‘Employee Built’ and ‘Professional’ teams from all over competing in events.

Nowadays, McCall is so loved that the boost for businesses isn’t necessary anymore, so the annual carnival will change from a ten-day event to a three-day weekend event in February 2024. However, many beloved events will remain intact, including the Mardi Gras Parade, Snow Sculpting Championship, evening fireworks show, Children’s Torchlight Parade, vendors, and live music. The only difference is that these events will occur later in the winter, allowing for greater accessibility with more available lodging options.

The Mardi Gras Parade is Back!

This year, the McCall Winter Carnival’s original 1924 spirit was revived thanks to the return of the Mardi Gras Parade! One of the most memorable parade moments was Shore Lodge’s award-winning Shrek-inspired float which featured Shrek, donkey, Lord Farquaad, and the three blind mice. The float was such a hit that it took home the title for Best Originality.

Next year, locals and visitors can expect even more memorable experiences with a weekend of festivities. On Friday night, revelers will be welcomed with an opening ceremony. Saturday will be a celebration of Mardi Gras with a parade, and Sunday will feature ice sculpting competitions and the ceremonial start of the Idaho Sled Dog Challenge.

With the anticipation of the pandemic restrictions lifted, organizers expect record crowds to attend, with up to 15,000 people at the Mardi Gras Parade alone. Families can rejoice in a week’s worth of festivities with fun activities, rides, and scrumptious snacks. The grand finale? A spectacular fireworks display above Payette Lake, accompanied by the carnival’s snow and ice sculptures.

Winter at Whitetail Club is filled with events like this and more. We invite you to join us and explore life as a Whitetail Club Member with a Discovery Tour package. For more information, call 877.634.1725 or send us an email at