Skip links

2024 Festival of Fire & Ice Recap: ICG Brings Light to the Heart of Winter

“The Fire and Ice Festival will bring fun, art, and creativity to the coldest and snowiest time of the year with an outdoor extravaganza for all ages to enjoy . . . be part of the tradition!”

Promotional Language for the first Festival of Fire & Ice for February 9, 2013

Festival of Fire & Ice casts a warm, radiant glow, stretching the day with luminous joy and a renewed sense of togetherness in the heart of winter. Since its inception in 2013, it has evolved into a cherished tradition at Ithaca Children’s Garden, symbolizing an enduring connection to the natural world and the bonds between individuals. This celebration draws participants each year to revel in this timeless bond.

A Quick History Snapshot:

Erin Marteal, ICG’s Development Director, shares, “The original inspiration was getting children and families outdoors to connect with nature during the coldest time—especially when many of us are in the throes of deep cabin fever. It’s a chance to uplift one another and celebrate together during Ithaca’s coldest, darkest season.”

Each Festival of Fire & Ice introduces a unique kind of magic, shaped by the seasonal weather—some years witness a light snowfall, others a heavy dumping, and then there are years with no snow at all, allowing the sun to shine brightly down upon everyone.

2024 Festival of Fire & Ice:

The 2024 event welcomed over 800 visitors, featuring activities led by NYS Park Educators on winter wildlife adaptations and Primitive Pursuits with an engaging friction fire activity. The Arctic Animal Parade, orchestrated by LilyPad Puppet Theatre, marched through the Garden, culminating with a dance in the Village Green. The evening was brought to a spectacular close with a fire performance by local artists Sam and Briar, capturing the awe of the crowd.

One ICG educator reflected, “I’ve never seen so many people in the Garden,” amazed at the turnout.

The festival atmosphere was electric—families and friends, young and old, converged in the Garden, embracing the winter celebration. The Hands-On Anarchy Zone, featuring a campfire, offered warmth against the cold, fostering connections among visitors as the day transitioned into night.

An event visitor remarked, “This was so nice, such a lovely community gathering,” encapsulating the sentiment of many in attendance.

Children found joy in simple pleasures like sipping hot cocoa atop the giant Gaia turtle sculpture and roasting marshmallows to gooey perfection—a testament to the festival’s ability to delight and warm hearts.

Volunteer Contributions:

Volunteers played a crucial role, running activity stations such as marshmallow roasting and the hot cocoa cauldron, and managing the registration table. Their dedication ensured a smoothly run event, making the celebration possible.

Parade and Performance Highlights:

The Arctic Animal Parade, starting in the Village Green, brought a whimsical charm to the festival, with tambourines and drums heralding its approach. The fire performance by Sam and Briar later illuminated the evening, leaving kids and adults alike in wonder.


ICG extends heartfelt gratitude to Photographer Mike Smith from Manifesto Designs and Todd Edmonds of Iron Design, whose talents captured and promoted the event’s magic. This event was supported in part by a grant from the Tompkins County Tourism Program.

Special thanks to the partners and volunteers, whose collaboration brought the festival to life. The educational activities, the Arctic Animal Parade, and the fire performances created a rich tapestry of experiences, thanks to the collective effort of everyone involved.

Looking Forward:

The Festival of Fire & Ice on February 3, 2024, was a testament to the power of community and the enduring appeal of connecting with nature through the coldest season. As the first promotions for 2013 said, “Be part of a tradition!”—a tradition that continues to grow and inspire.

Interested in Event Photos?

Click here to dive deeper into the heartwarming celebration that is the Festival of Fire & Ice and discover how you can be part of our upcoming events.

Access the Gallery (Requires Passcode [click above link])

You can find a list of ICG’s 2024 events and add them to your calendar now by clicking here.

Planning your kids’ summer? Start here at Ithaca Children’s Garden’s Summer Camp. Secure your child’s spot by registering during the Summer Camp Lottery, starting February 12 at 10 AM and ending on February 18 at 11:59 PM. No payment is required at the time of registration.