SnowFest returns for 42nd year, kicks off with coronation, polar plunge

The Polar Bear Swim will be happening at Garwoods Pier at 12 p.m. Saturday, March 4.
Provided/Douglas Hartline

TAHOE CITY, Calif. — The 10-day SnowFest celebration is returning to the North Shore beginning Thursday, March 2, and is jam-packed with events to bring together locals and visitors. 

The festival was originally created over 40 years ago in order to bring more tourists to the area during the shoulder seasons. Since then, the it has supported nonprofits, student organizations, scholarship programs, and in 2022 raised over $150,000 for nonprofits. 

President of the SnowFest Board of Directors Douglas Hardline is excited to be putting on the event again for another year, and explained that there would be festivities every day including fireworks and multiple parades, along with endless events held by local businesses and restaurant partners. 

Events kick off at Garwoods at 5 p.m. Thursday, March 2, with the King and Queen Coronation with the Blues Monsters. Tickets online in advanced are $45 and are $50 at the door. Tickets include food, music, wet woodies, beer, wine, and collector edition beads. 

Candidates for the SnowFest king and queen are high school seniors. This year, five students applied, and had to do a multitude of things in order to qualify to win, including writing an essay, doing an interview, and participating in community service through fundraising for their chosen nonprofits. 

“It’s a great program and keeps kids raising money to further their education,” said Hardline. 

The Tahoe City Dog Pull will benefit the Palisades Avalanche Dogs.
Provided/Douglas Hartline

One popular event that happens during SnowFest is the 34th annual Polar Bear Swim which will be happening at 12 p.m. Saturday, March 4, at the Garwoods Grill & Pier. 

Entry is $35 in advanced and $40 the day of the event, and the race has cash prizes for first, second and third place. Warm-ups will start at 11:30 a.m. and the race will begin at 2:30 p.m. The race will see participants plunge in the polar waters of Lake Tahoe and then celebrate after at Garwoods. 

“It’s really more mental than it is physical,” said Hardline. “I would really get in your head space that you don’t want to be cold or you’re just not gonna react to it.” 

Other fun events happening during SnowFest include the Tahoe City parade happening at 11:30 a.m. Saturday, March 4, in downtown Tahoe City, the Prom Night benefitting The Humane Society of Truckee-Tahoe, and the Tahoe City Dog Pull benefitting Palisades Avalanche Dogs. 

“The festival brings tourists and our local community together to represent and recognize all the local nonprofits that need support from not only just the people in our community, but the people who come here and enjoy the community we live in,” said Hardline. 

To see the full schedule of events for SnowFest visit

Support Local Journalism


Support Local Journalism

Readers around Lake Tahoe, Truckee, and beyond make the Sierra Sun's work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Your donation will help us continue to cover COVID-19 and our other vital local news.