Winter Carnival poster
(Poster designed by Maria O’Matz ’24) 
2024 Winter Carnival Will Be Out of This World

Winterstellar: A Carnival in the Cosmos included a launch party, a cosmos-themed make-and-take, and Big Bang Bingo.

What Dartmouth event inspired a Hollywood movie, triggered an 8-mile traffic jam on the roads leading into Hanover in 1952, and was called “the Mardi Gras of the North” by National Geographic? If you guessed Dartmouth’s Winter Carnival, you are correct! Winter Carnival has evolved over the years, with events coming and going, such as a formal dance that is no longer held. But one thing remains constant: Winter Carnival at Dartmouth is still one of the greatest cold-weather celebrations.

Cat in the Hat snow sculpture
Snow Sculptures

One event Dartmouth’s 114th Winter Carnival will celebrate is the building of the iconic snow sculpture on the Green. Take a look back at some of the creations students have built over the years.

Students racing down a ski slope in a green canoe
Skates, Skis, and Snowshoes Required

Students bravely face the polar bear swim, skiers fly off the ski jump, and human dog sledders vie for bragging rights.

Poster Collection

This is the perfect storm of poster art, not because every poster is perfect—some, in fact, are amateurish, others exquisite—but rather because it is extremely rare to find a collection focused on a single theme spanning such a broad period of time.

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The History of Winter Carnival

In 1922, a popular 50-meter ski jumping event debuted at Winter Carnival. The Vale of Tempe ski jump’s 85-foot tall steel trestle stood on the Hanover Country Club golf course for more than 70 years, with a landing area adjacent to what was the 13th green. The jump was removed in 1993 after the NCAA had dropped ski jumping as a collegiate sport eight years earlier. A plaque now marks the site where thousands once gathered to cheer the soaring ski jumpers.

Ski jump with crowd watching
Crowds gather to watch the ski jump competition at the 1930 Winter Carnival. (Photo courtesy of the Dartmouth Library) 
Bonfire in a snowey hill
Outdoor Evenings, 1932. The Feb. 16, 1938 edition of The New York Times said of that year’s show, “Tonight at the golf course one of the best “Outdoor Evenings” the carnival has ever had was a blaze of color. Figure skating, ski stunting and jumping under colored light, the blare of music, and a final golden burst of skyrockets in the cold evening air brought roars of applause from the thousand on the hillside.” (Photo by Walter Merryman, courtesy of the Dartmouth Library) 

“Outdoor Evening” was a popular Winter Carnival figure skating show that featured members of the Skating Club at Dartmouth, as well as top figure skaters like two-time Olympic gold medalist Dick Button. In 1947, the Hanover Gazette described a crowd of “more than 2,000 spectators who sat in Dartmouth’s Memorial Stadium” to watch the figure skating performance. The 1960 Winter Carnival featured the Olympic figure skating team and was televised by CBS. The final “Outdoor Evening” event was held in 1961.

Since the first Winter Carnival snow sculpture (a medieval castle) was constructed in 1925, there have been many impressive efforts, including a fire-breathing dragon. But the 1987 snow sculpture was especially impressive. The 47.5-foot, saxophone-wielding snowman—homage to the “Blizzard on Bourbon Street” theme—set the Guinness Book of World Records that year for the tallest snowman.

Large ice sculpture snowman with fireworks in the background
(Photo by Larry Crowe/Valley News)