If you like winter sports action, good local food, and zip lines, then you need to check out the 38th annual Empire State Winter Games.

The huge, multi-sport event runs from February 1-4 and it’s coming out of the gate bigger and better than ever. This year there will be more competitors, a centralized village, a Jumbotron to watch it all on, and it’s all kicked off by a relay torch run that begins in Manhattan and ends in Lake Placid.

Combine all of that with good food, craft beer, and events happening across several Adirondack communities, and the Games start to look more like a celebration of winter than the intense competitiveness they’re known for.

The Manhattan and Lake Placid connection

The ESWG relay torch run route.
The ESWG relay torch run route.

If you can't get to the Games, don't worry! They might be coming to you.

This year, the ESWG kicks off with a first-ever relay torch run that stretches from Manhattan to Lake Placid, giving New Yorkers across the state an opportunity to cheer on our athletes without leaving home.

The run starts in the city on January 29 and will follow the Empire State Trail north on a four-day journey that ends in the Olympic Arena in Lake Placid on February 1, just in time for the Opening Ceremony. Along the way, the route will pass through the Hudson River Valley Greenway before stopping at the Capital Building in Albany. From Albany, the relay will hit the towns and villages along Route 9 before reaching its destination.

Participants in the torch relay include past ESWG and Olympic athletes from across the state, as well as some current ESWG participants. Special guests will run the first and last legs of the relay.

ESWG Village

An artist's rendering of the ESWG Village.
An artist's rendering of the ESWG Village.

The Games begin on Thursday, February 1 at 5 p.m. with a free opening ceremony in the Lake Placid Olympic Center's Herb Brooks Arena. That will be worth showing up for, but as the Games get rolling the real centerpiece is the ESWG Village. Everyone — athletes, families, spectators, and the general public — are welcome in the village, located in the Lake Placid Municipal Parking Lot on Main Street, right near the Olympic Center. The village is open through 4 p.m. on Sunday, February 4.

Want to see a spectacle? Stop by on Friday, February 2, as the US Aerialist Team is sent off to the 2018 Winter Olympics with a fireworks display and live music.

Figure skating
Figure skating

The send off is a taste of what’s happening every day at the village. Imagine this: A winter scene with live music by the Brooklyn Children’s Theatre or Rochester party favorites Nik and the Nice Guys. Up on the hill, daring cyclists navigate the banks and jumps of the winter bike course while people zip line over them.

Next to the course there’s a lit ESWG torch and a Jumbotron for live streaming nearby competitions, and then there’s the village proper, where local food and craft beers are for sale. A high-speed tubing hill completes the setup, providing an adrenaline-inducing ride for anyone looking to get their thrill on.

A winter sports legacy

Winter biking
Winter biking

Founded in 1980, the Empire State Winter Games is a multi-day athletic competition anchored in Lake Placid. Amateur athletes of all ages and from all over the Northeast and Canada compete over the course of three days every February.

The largest multi-sport festival in the Northeast, the 38th Games are expected to host 2,500 athletes competing in more than 30 winter sports competitions spread across 17 sports, including alpine skiing, biathlon, snowboard cross, figure skating, ski jumping, luge, hockey, and winter biking.

The competitions happen in facilities in surrounding Adirondack communities like Wilmington, Tupper Lake, Malone, Paul Smiths, and Saranac Lake.

Why not make a week-long trip out of the Empire State Winter Games? After the competitions end, find your own adventure on our snowshoeing and cross-country skiing trails.

This week in ADK news:

Tubing and ice palaces - family winter fun

Lake Champlain winter birding

Northern Challenge Ice Fishing Derby

Snowshoeing: with guide or without

Insider tips on the ESWG

Find your ideal winter activity

High Falls Gorge: winter exploration