Syracuse Winterfest FEBRUARY 15-25, 2024, IS BACK AGAIN at locations throughout downtown with games, activities, food and fun for the whole family!

Winterfest Syracuse
Quick – what is Syracuse known for?
Well, the Franklin Auto. Air conditioners. The Erie Canal!
But let’s be honest, when you think about what Syracuse is best known for –
winter is a leading contender. Long, often cold and dreary winters. But then again…
in 1985, some enterprising people at the Updowntowners of Syracuse thought:
instead of bemoaning winter, why not celebrate it? We all need a reason to get out
and have fun when the holidays are over, the days are still short, the temperatures
are still chilly (or freezing!), and the kids have a week off from school right in the
middle of it. What could be more enticing than 11 days of games, races, family fun,
music, meeting up with friends, fireworks – and a chance to try an incredible array of
tasty food and drinks, and even vote on your favorites?
Syracuse Winterfest promises something for everyone – patrons, vendors,
downtown establishments, and even out-of-town guests. Centered in the Syracuse
Inner Harbor, and extending into the surrounding downtown Syracuse, you’ll find
food tastings, craft beers, entertainment and activities, human dogsled racing and so
much more! So, let’s take a quick peek so you can plan ahead and won’t miss a thing!
The Annual Treasure Hunt: sponsored by the Countryside Credit Union and
presented by the Post-Standard, the contest begins with the opening of the festival,
on Thursday, February 16. Somewhere in Onondaga County the planners have
hidden a 1.5” plastic Treasure Hunt Medallion. To find it, you have to follow the clues.
Check at:• • The Post-Standard and the ePost-Standard
• Twitter @syracusedotcom (look for #syrtreasurehunt) • Facebook at
syracuse • Snapchat at syracusedotcom
Daily clues will be posted, and if you’re the lucky individual or team who locates
the “treasure,” you’ll find instructions about claiming your prize: $2000!
Open Ice Skating will be offered at the NY State Fair Coliseum on both Fridays of
the festival, February 17th and 24th, 6:30 – 8:30pm. Plan on bringing your own skates
as rentals won’t be available.
And what better way to get the fun started on the first weekend of the festival
than with Fireworks, on Friday evening, February 17th at 8:30pm at the Syracuse
Inner Harbor Waterfront?
Maybe you have a good Cornhole game? Bring it – the competition will be held
Sunday, February 19th, 11am – 5pm on East Water Street
adjacent to Hanover Square. Two persons per team, and
there will be prizes awarded to the top three teams.
Your $100 registration includes an open bar from
Noon – 4. Find out more, including application
forms and waivers on the Winterfest website.
And if you haven’t already started, hurry and
make your plans for the Human Dogsled Race.
Your team designs and builds a sled, pulls and pushes and “mushes” it to
championship on Sunday, February 19th.
Besides the popular Human Dogsled Race, COR Development, along with Helping
Hounds Dog Rescue, Limp Lizard, Meier’s Creek Brewing Company at Iron Pier,
C&S Companies, and Blueberries & Lace will present a full slate of family-friendly
activities at the Inner Harbor on February 19th. The event will be held at the Iron
Pier building (720 Van Rensselaer Street, Syracuse, NY 13204). Said Merissa Lynch,
Marketing Manager for COR Development, “Every year COR’s Winterfest event at the
Syracuse Inner Harbor has been a tremendous success. Proceeds from this event will
support Helping Hounds Dog Rescue and its mission ‘to providing a compassionate
approach to dog rescue by matching homeless dogs from overcrowded shelter
systems with a loving home.’ We’d like to thank the public for their generosity, and
our local partners for helping make this event such a success, and we welcome all to
sign up and join the fun!”
But let’s get around to what is for many, the “main” event: the food and drinks!
This is your chance to try out some of the best restaurants in town, and their best
offerings. We’ve all got our favorites when it’s time to go out and meet for drinks or
dinner. But it’s also fun to discover something new – and this is a great way to do
it. And it’s just $5 (no increase in price!) per tasting event, for each of the food and
drink events on the tasting menu over the course of the 2 weekends, with the one
exception of the Wing Walk – more about that later! And once you’ve tried all the
offerings in a given event, you get to vote on your favorite food or drink.
The annual Beer Tasting will be held Sunday, February 19th from noon – 4pm. You
try a 1-2 oz. sample of a variety of Syracuse and Onondaga County brewers’ best
offerings. We promise, it won’t be easy. The voting that is, not the sampling!
But suppose you prefer mixed drinks? Why not sample and vote on your favorite
Martinis, Sangria, Cosmopolitans, Margaritas, and of course, Bloody Marys? You can
stroll around from venue to venue, try a taste of the featured offering, and then vote
– and not just on the mix itself, but on the presentation, so prepare to be wowed
The many and varied restaurants in Syracuse are also excited to take part in the
Winterfest’s annual Chili and Chowder Cook-offs, the Culinary Cruise, the Sandwich
Stroll, and last but not least, Sunday, February 26th from noon – 5 you can wander the
streets of downtown on the famous Wing Walk ($10 per ticket presale, $15 on the day
of the event), and see if you can determine which is your favorite – not an easy task,
Syracuse, but we know you’re up to it! And once again, you get to cast your vote on
your favorite offering!
And don’t miss the Team Trivia Finals, held in the Grand Ballroom of the Marriott
Downtown on Sunday, February 26th – the games begin at 3pm!
And on the 26th, why not stop by the lobby of the Marriott with your kids for Fun
with Checkers the Inventor? Shows go on throughout the afternoon, so just drop in!
There is so much more, with events taking place in any number of schools,
libraries, museums and other locations and Centro is donating a route through
downtown for visitors who’d like a ride.
And what’s any 11-day event without music?
The Hammond Jammin’ Organ Concert is back this year, upstairs in Dinosaur Bar-BQue on Sunday, February 17th, noon – 5. Five area bands will
be jammin’ featuring their Hammond organs, while you
relax, digest, and enjoy the music.
It sounds like a lot – but take a look at the lineup
here, make your plans, get your tickets (and a
handy map), and prepare for 11 days of fun,
games, food, friends, and fest – Winterfest!
All weekend tickets are available at the
Downtown Marriott street level entrance,
and tickets are also available for presale at all
participating locations (see the website for the details
on presale!).

For further information, contact Bill Cooper at (315) 243-2500 (c)or Email:

 Outstanding Past History

The first Winterfest was celebrated in 1985. It was the result of a small group of individuals from the Updowntowners of Syracuse, who committed months of time and energy to celebrate, rather than lament, winter in Syracuse and Onondaga County.

Community involvement and participation grew. It was the third year of celebration of Syracuse Winterfest Inc., and the Updowntowners of Syracuse, Inc. gained the full support of the City of Syracuse, Onondaga County, The Greater Syracuse Chamber of Commerce, WTVH-5, AM 570/WSYR, and Y94.

During the 1987-88 season, Syracuse Winterfest achieved New York State’s prestigious title of “Winter Festival Capital”. Due to public support and enthusiasm, Winterfest expanded from a weekend festival to its present two weeks.[/tab]

[tab] Local and national companies found that the celebrating Syracusans were an attractive target market. They started underwriting the costs of operating Winterfest as well as sponsoring many events. Downtown Syracuse merchants and restaurants became actively involved with the festivities. People found that there were lots of ways to participate in Winterfest.

More than 200,000 people attended Winterfest activities in 1989. The Syracuse Convention and Visitors Bureau reported that tourists joined with the residents of Onondaga County to celebrate winter. The list of corporate sponsors grew to a record level. The number of volunteers increased dramatically.

The history of Winterfest is checkered with warm days and no snow, as well as frigid weekends with snow and subzero temperatures. In 1990 the Winterfest Committee made the event “weather- proof” by creating winter sculptures without snow and more indoor activities. Although a two weekend event, sponsors, volunteers and the public enjoyed the biggest Winterfest to date.[/tab]

[tab]Winterfest in 2000 was expanded to a ten day event. In 2002 it was increased to an eleven day event to include a semi- formal ball to welcome the newest Winterfest mascot “Snow Ball”. The “Snow Ball” proved to be an elegant combination of dancing and dining. This event was held in the grand ballroom of the Hotel Syracuse with entertainment provided by local musicians.

The New York Special Olympics joined the Syracuse Winterfest celebration in 2002 adding numerous events.

Winterfest 2003 had grown to over 100 events in 10 days. In 2004 ,Valentine’s Day was included into the events schedule allowing twelve days for the Winterfest celebration and over 150 events.[/tab]

[tab]The theme for 2005 was “There’s SNOW Place Like Central New York”. Winterfest presented over 150 events with increased family and children’s activities added along with featuring a new designation to the Syracuse area called “Little Italy” in the first weekend. Winterfest also joined with North Syracuse Junior High School to break a Guinness World Record for the most snow angels . We needed 1,792+1 to break the record, but rounded up 666 citizens for the attempt.

Winterfest 2006 and 2007 was an 11-day event, with the addition of seven wine tasting evenings along with a weekend live music events called Winterfest Jam at five locations for five dollars.

Winterfest 2008 had events running for 14 days, with some pre-Winterfest events. The newest events were multi-age Wii competitions and a new food event called the “Burger Bounce”.[/tab]

[tab]Winterfest 2010 we celebrated our 25 anniversary and included the outdoor hockey game at the State Fair grounds in our schedule along with many new ones.

Winterfest 2012 -2014 we had Ice Castle Built in Clinton Square and with several new events.[/tab]

Wiinterfest 2015 we added Corn-Hole Evevt.

Winterfest 2020 will be  great too.   “Syracuse’s Coolest Tradition”

Syracuse Winterfest 2021 was cancel due to COVID-19

This year Winterfest theme is: “Syracuse Winterfest RE-BOOT” bring back all the fun events to Syracuse in February 17th- 27th, 2022.






© 2024 Syracuse Winterfest.

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