Dog-Friendly Winter Festivals and Events

The world would be a nicer place if everyone had the ability to love as unconditionally as a dog.

M.K. Clinton

During winter, you can usually find me inside, impatiently waiting for warm weather. Maybe it’s because I’ve been living in Pennsylvania for almost 6 years now or that the winters haven’t been as cold but I’ve been wanting to venture out and explore more and more.

Winter vacations have SO much appeal to me, despite the cold weather. Mixing up vacation time is always fun and inevitably leads to new adventures. One of my dogs adores cold weather and the other… well… we bundle him up in fancy fleece jackets and he’s happy to just be involved. Even though I just got back from another vacation I’m already thinking about taking one during the colder months, but I knew I wanted it to be with the pups.

There aren’t many dog-centric events in the winter, but the ones that I found are pretty amazing. Half are definitely out of road tripping distance right now, but I will do my best to get to them eventually. The other half? Oh, it’s going to happen!

Georgia’s Enchanted Garden of Lights

I love going to see light displays during the holidays. Just outside of Chattanooga, TN is the Enchanted Garden of Lights that’s been operating for over 20 years. The lights are on display from November to January and feature over 30 different holiday displays and over one million lights. Take your dog(s) on a super fun walk through the lights where each path has a different theme with accompanying music to go with it!

Idaho’s Annual Winter Carnival

Winter in Sandpoint, Idaho is extra special for pet parents and dog lovers. February 17th kicks off the 10 days of festivities this year. From a parade of lights, pub crawls, sleigh rides, and a corn hole competition there is no shortage of things to do. The main event, however, is 100% incredible. The K-9 Keg Pull is the main attraction year after year. Larger dogs pull an empty keg (smaller dogs pull a beer can) down a snowy course. I REALLY wish I had heard of this event a few years ago so I could’ve taken Atlas in his prime. This sounds so amazingly fun to watch.

Colorado’s Wintersk├Âl

Aspen’s toast to winter is an annual event with almost 70 years of celebrations in the books. This four-day event features snow sculptures, winter activities, bonfires, and even a drag queen brunch. Once you’ve had your fill of the chilly outdoor activities make sure you don’t miss the soup contest to warm up. The entire event is dog-friendly so bring the winter gear and enjoy all that Aspen has to offer with your dogs!

Florida’s Beer, Bacon, and BBQ Festival

Maybe you’re like me and gravitate towards warm weather. Well, travel on down to St. Petersburg, Florida in mid-January for some warm weather, drinks, and delicious food. Just don’t forget the bring the dogs. They deserve bacon and bbq too. Live music all day, beers, seltzers, cocktails and frozen drinks abound, and a massive number of vendors selling bacon and bbq dishes as well as desserts and you know you’ve hit the jackpot. Leashed dogs are welcomed and some vendors even have dog snacks! They’ll also probably score some food that’s been dropped. It’s a win-win situation.

Colorado’s Annual Fruitcake Toss

Where else in the world can you go for an annual fruitcake tossing contest? Not many is my guess. Held in late January every year in Manitou Springs, Colorado, visitors flock to the area with their pets for bragging rights. I’m sure the all the dogs want is to chase these fruitcakes, but that’s a different story. While the contest seems amazing, the cakes are launched with a variety of mechanical and pneumatic devices, so make sure to only bring pets that aren’t afraid of sudden loud noises. Don’t want to fling a fruitcake? Try entering the fruitcake bake off instead!

Quebec’s Winter Carnival

Quebec City hosts the largest festival celebrating winter in the world. That’s worth seeing just by itself, so why not bring your dogs with you? They’re welcome in almost every area, except in certain places that sell food. Held in early to mid January, the event has over 200 events and activities to choose from. Outdoor and indoor activities are seemingly endless ranging from shows, ice canoe races, and parades to ice skating, live music, and an ice palace. If you’re looking for the ultimate winter event, this is it. ee

Maine’s Winter Paloozah

Do you love the idea of a doggy keg pull, but you need a frozen lake added to the mix? Rangeley, Maine has you covered for a brief weekend in mid-February every year. The human festivities are also just as fun with firewood toss contests, cardboard sled race, snow castle building, every snow adventure you can probably think of, and a marshmallow roast. Bring your dog along on all them, but don’t miss the firewood toss. It’s the ultimate stick watching contest for them.

New York’s Winter Carnival

If your dog has a special talent or knows a unique trick, you should probably start booking your trip to Lake George, New York. The town hosts a month-long carnival each year in beginning in February and features so many fun activities. The LGWC Dog’s Got Talent contest is the perfect place to show the world what your pup can do. The event is held every Sunday, so you have multiple chances to enter. Fun human events include outhouse races (worth a visit itself), ATV poker runs, bonfires, make your own sundae funday, ice races in several types of vehicles, and not one, but FIVE different cook offs.

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