Several thousand people head to Schweitzer Mountain Resort for an annual light show, a signature event for the Sandpoint Winter Carnival. A week of events Jan. 12-17 turns the Idaho town into one big party with outdoor fun, dining specials, ski movies, a rail jam, and the light show.

The 37th Sandpoint Winter Carnival spices up the post-holiday January doldrums in a week-long party. Prizes are given to shoppers, diners, and event participants.

The highlight of the week draws 3,000-4,000 people up to Schweitzer for a light show at 6 p.m. Jan. 15. The throng gathers in the village at the base of JR Run to watch with a parade of grooming machines lighting up the slopes first. "They descend in a V formation following the lead groomer to pave the way for the torchlight parade," spokesperson Dave Kulis told us.

The torchlight parade, comprise of mountain employees and a limited number of the skiing public, snakes down the hill before fireworks provide the finale. "Night skiing goes on at the same time, and afterwards, there's a pretty strong après crows in Taps in the main lodge," added Kulis.

Winter Carnival frivolity starts with the KPND Ski and Board Party Jan. 12 in the Laughing Dog Brewery followed by the Taste of Sandpoint Jan. 13. The taste, which features more than a dozen of Sandpoint's favorite restaurants selling samples for $3-7, launches nightly dining specials at 15 downtown restaurants.

The newest carnival event is skijoring, where skiers pulled by horses compete for speed around a flat track with jumps. The races take place Jan. 15-16 at the Bonner County Fairgrounds. Other events pack Jan. 14 with Bio-Luminesce Firedancers at the Pend D'Oreille Winery, ski and snowboard films, and a downtown rail jam competition and bonfire. Eichardt's Pub even brings dogs into competition with the K-9 Keg Pull Jan. 16.

Schweitzer also hosts other events for the carnival, including NASTAR, scavenger hunts, snowshoe hikes, poker skiing, and kids activities.

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