Greenfield Winter Carnival Returns February 2-4

GREENFIELD – Winter Carnival returns Friday, February 2 through Sunday, February 4, to mark its 102nd anniversary with its new "Season Switch Up" theme. Since its very beginnings, this event has brought the community together in celebration at a time of year that can be long, cold and dreary. It also pays tribute to Greenfield’s legacy as a winter sports destination dating back to the 1920s, when it featured ski jumps and toboggan chutes.

“The Winter Carnival is something I look forward to every year,” said Mayor Virginia “Ginny” Desorgher. “I can’t wait to see the ice sculptures and all the wonderful festivities that are in store.”

“While Mother Nature appears to be preparing us for the Winter Carnival, we are looking forward to this year’s Season Switch-Up celebration with a summer beach vibe,” said Recreations Director Christy Moore. “Downtown Greenfield will be sure to help you find your tropical vibe with Meltdown at Mesa outdoor beach bash and ice bar on the patio and then swing on over to Court Square for Greenfield Business Association’s Downtown Defrost with fire spinners and smores! There is sure to be something for everyone to enjoy in Greenfield this weekend.”

While some details of the early Winter Carnivals may have been lost over the years, their legend remains. It is estimated that 5,000 spectators attended the 1927 Winter Carnival, where two ski jumpers leaped through a flaming hoop off a ski jump after dark. In 1928, Winter Carnival hosted the Eastern
U.S. Ski Championships on the Shelburne Mountain Ski Jump. That year’s event, hosted by the Outing Club and Greenfield Chamber of Commerce, was said to be the biggest and best in New England! In addition to ski jumping, there was “fancy skating,” speed skaters playing hockey on Highland Pond, a cross-country ski race, snowshoe and ski hikes, a Carnival Ball at the Greenfield Armory, a fireworks display and band at Beacon Field and ice sculptures on the Town Common and at private residences.

This year’s three-day celebration features many modern-day activities, but also strives to honor the festival’s rich history. The theme for the year is “Season Switch-Up”, where winter will be transformed into a summer beach celebration. Festivities kick off Friday, February 2 with live ice carvings by artists throughout downtown. Sculptures will be displayed throughout the weekend, and people are encouraged to vote for their favorite in an online contest. A drive down Main Street at dusk to see the sculptures illuminated is a must see!

Carnival kickoff continues with the official torch lighting on The Common at 4 p.m., followed by Meltdown at Mesa, an outdoor beach bash party with Ice Bar, Downtown Defrost on Court Square with fire dance performances and fire barrels, Beacon Field Warm Up with music, sledding, ice skating, and warming fire, and the annual Parade of Lights where illuminated vehicles travel from Newton School to Beacon Field with displays that are sure to light up the night. Parade entries are still being accepted. Following the parade, a fireworks display will light up in the night sky at Beacon Field! Other activities on Friday include a hot chocolate and board game social at the library.

The celebration resumes on Saturday, February 3 with a virtual puzzle contest where teams will compete to assemble a 550-piece puzzle in hopes of winning the coveted Winter Carnival Piece Prize. Family activities will also take place at 20 Sanderson Street from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., featuring arts and crafts, board games, take-home activities, and an art display.

The fun continues into the afternoon with a family dance lesson, cribbage tournament, Melt Down at Mesa outdoor Beach Bash and Ice Bar, Mad Science Fire and Ice Show, Four Phantoms Brewing Dark HeARTS Market, fatbike group ride, Glow Party at the Greenfield Middle School featuring a DJ and LED dancing party robot from 5:30pm-7:00pm, and a Winter Carnival Party “Chasing Summer Vibes” featuring Small Town Radio at Hawks and Reed.

Day three on Sunday, February 4 starts bright and early with the Donuts with Olaf fundraiser from 8 to 10 a.m. at Adams Donuts. Pre-orders are required and open on Wednesday, January 24 on the Adams website. At 10 a.m., the Garden Cinema will be presenting a free showing of Smallfoot. A snowshoeing hike through Highland Park will begin at noon.

Sunday’s events continue at Beacon Field, with an afternoon Beach Bash from noon to 4 p.m. Attendees are encouraged to bring their beach chair or towels and set-up in the snow for an afternoon of outdoor fun. Sledding down Beacon Hill, ice skating on the outdoor ice rink and building snowmen are all winter and festival favorites. Snow castle building, snow volleyball, and lawn games will also be a part of this year’s Season Switch-Up Celebration. In addition, there will be horse-drawn hay or sleigh rides, communitywide tug of war, a live DJ, ice bowling and broom ball. Delicious treats are enjoyed with the cookie bake-off, chili cook-off, marshmallow toasting, hot cocoa and other warm offerings from the snack bar.

Beacon Field will also host a vintage snowmobile show and rides, featuring a look back at the early days of snowmobiling, sponsored by the Snowmobile Association of Massachusetts. Spectators will be able to cast a vote for their favorite snowmobile! Also, back by popular demand is the K-9 Keg Pull.

Participants run, dance or do whatever it takes to urge their dogs across the finish line. Dogs will sprint for glory, pulling appropriately sized kegs-- for a Chihuahua, that’s a beer can, while mighty rotts or shepherds pull full-sized kegs (all empty, of course). Pooches can register in advance or at the event. All funds benefit the Friends of the Paws Park.

Winter Carnival culminates with the great cardboard sled race! The creativity is limitless, as just about anything goes. All sleds must be made of cardboard. Prizes are awarded in the youth and group categories for fastest, most creative, zaniest and best crash. Adults can earn prizes for the fastest and most creative. Businesses are also encouraged to join the fun in the Corporate Challenge, where a prize is awarded for best design. An overall “Season Switch-Up” award will be granted for best use of theme, along with a “People’s Choice” prize based on votes from the public. Complete rules are available on the Winter Carnival website. An award ceremony follows the race for all competitions held throughout the weekend.

Additional events throughout the weekend include Find the Golden Carrot, poetry walk, Sour Fest at Four Phantoms Brewing and a special menu and coloring contest at Main Street Bar & Grille.

A complete schedule of events is available online at
While most events are free, some activities do include a fee or suggested donation. Fee information and registration forms for specific activities are available on the website.

Winter Carnival is presented by the Greenfield Recreation Department and sponsored by Wormtown Trading, Mesa Verde, Massachusetts Cultural Council, Gilmore & Farrell Insurance, WHAI, BEAR Country, The Outlaw 92.3, EZ107.5, Gagne Wealth Management, Greenfield Savings Bank, NEXT Technologies, Franklin Regional Council of Governments, Safe Schools Safe Streets Coalition, New Fortune, Greenfield Local Cultural Council, Adams Donuts, Silver Screen Design, Coldwell Banker, Scenic Window Company, Brown & Brown, Judd Wire, Greenfield Cooperative Bank, Snowmobile Association of Massachusetts, Greenfield Business Association, The Academy at Charlemont, Carquest of Greenfield, Cherry Pi, Cohn & Company, Design Alternative, Dr. Elizabeth Peterson Chiropractic & Natural Health, Freedom Credit Union, Greenfield Freemasons, Hitchcock Brewing, Montague WebWorks, Patriot Care, Planet Fitness, Shelburne Falls Coffee Roasters, Summit Ice, Adam & Eve, Swift Cleaners, Franklin Community Co-Op, The Greenfield Gallery, Studio 7, Olive Street Development, Hope and Olive, and Ryan & Casey Liquors. More information about the festival is available by calling the Greenfield Recreation Department at 413-772-1553.