Steam Into Winter: Winter Carnival Traditions at UNH

student outdoors in the winter jumping over barrels on ice skates

January 28 - February 27, 2004
Dale Valena, Museum Curator
Winter Carnival is an annual UNH snow celebration that started in 1922, sponsored by the Forestry Club. In 1924 the Outing Club took over the responsibilities. The weekend-long festival was considered an athletic and social highlight of the dark winter semester that included ski, skate, sled, and snowshoe competitions; a Carnival Ball; banquets; and pageants. In the early years, the celebration was thematic and included an official program. The dorms, fraternities, and sororities constructed elaborate snow sculptures based on the theme of the year. A prize was awarded to the best sculpture.

In recent years, however, unreliable weather has put a damper on snow-dependent events. Today's students have taken Winter Carnival inside the MUB, where they shake the winter doldrums with a variety of events. This mini-exhibit provided a reminder of what Winter Carnival could be, given a nice blizzard or two.

woman on a horse in the winter

Winter Carnival 1953
Diane Cohen Caplan '53 on skis and Libby Zeitler Strang '54 riding Starlight during a ski-joring demonstration on Memorial Field.

Johnny Rasmussen lights the beacon at winter carnival

Winter Carnival 1958
Johnny Rasmussen lights the beacon after carrying the torch for the last mile of a 133-mile-marathon run from the top of the Old Man of the Mountain to Thompson Hall.

student building a train snow sculpture

Winter Carnival 1961
Residents from Alexander Hall work on their entry for the snow sculpture contest. "Snow Motion" was the theme of the year.