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The Polar Bear Swim at Tahoe City's Snowfest


Tahoe City Snowfest

Celebrate winter on the north side of turquoise-blue Lake Tahoe with Snowfest’s 10-plus days of activities: Watch the Snow Queen parade, dress up your dog for the pet costume contest, or soak up the energy from the area’s festive bars and restaurants. 

The March festival (running from March 1–11 in 2018) first launched in Tahoe City in 1982, as a way to show people that the Tahoe area’s good ski conditions last well past February. Over the years the late-winter festival steadily grew, and today the self-proclaimed Mountain Mardi Gras kicks with off four big events in three days: the crowning of this year’s queen, fireworks at Commons Beach, a parade (look for entries like the Unicycling Unicorn), and the Polar Bear Swim—a 250-yard jaunt in the 39-degree waters of Lake Tahoe, followed by reviving snacks and libations at the nearby Gar Woods restaurant and bar.

At the end of the festival, watch the annual I-Did-a-Run, where a variety of dogs compete in a wagon-pulling race on a snow track. In between there are about 100 different events, typically including a torchlight parade, concerts, pancake breakfasts, bar parties, an ice-cream eating contest, ice-carving, and even a luau. While most activities are centered around Tahoe City, some of the festivities are also staged at nearby alpine resorts, including Squaw Valley Alpine MeadowsHomewood, and Northstar California.