A view of the Carnaval Maine site on Portland’s Eastern Promenade in 2020, the first year of the event. Photo courtesy of Carnaval ME

Portland winter festival Carnaval Maine is moving from the Eastern Promenade to the working waterfront and will shift its focus away from winter sports and more toward food and entertainment, including a headline performance by Maine singer-songwriter and recent Grammy nominee Amy Allen.

Allen will perform on Sunday, March 12, the final day of the five-day festival, which will be held on the DiMillo’s property on Commercial Street overlooking Portland Harbor. Also scheduled to perform are: The Mallett Brothers, an Americana rock band from Maine; North Carolina-based country rock band Parmalee; and a third musical artist to be announced in January.

The first two Carnaval Maine events were held over three days in January 2020 and 10 days last February at Eastern Promenade Park. The event was canceled in 2021 because of the pandemic.

The move to DiMillo’s more than doubles the amount of space available for the event’s entertainment, activities and food, and also brings attendees closer to Portland’s Old Port.

“Each year we have challenged ourselves to drive more economic, community and charitable impact when the region needs it most,” said Brian Corcoran, CEO of Carnaval Maine and owner-operator of Shamrock Sports & Entertainment, a sales and marketing agency in Portland. “Carnaval Maine hits on all cylinders: fans get priceless experiences with award-winning artists, sponsors get visibility at one of the state’s largest festivals, while businesses get a boost during a slow shoulder season.”

Corcoran said the Eastern Prom was a fine location, and the city was a great partner, but the space they used in the park had become too small. He expects as many as 20,000 people in 2023, and the capacity for the headlining shows is roughly 6,000. A spokesperson for the event said attendance at last year’s longer festival was 22,000.


For the first time, children ages 10 and under will be admitted free, thanks to partnering sponsors Norway Savings Bank, Nautilus Solar, WEX, Bill Dodge Auto Group and L.L. Bean. Carnaval Maine has set a goal to raise $25,000 for both the Maine Academy of Modern Music and WinterKids, a Westbrook nonprofit that promotes outdoor learning and activities.

“We are proud to be a founding sponsor of Carnaval ME and the Norway Savings Bank Snow Stage,” said Dan Walsh, president and CEO of Norway Savings Bank. “This event shines a spotlight on winter activities and, in doing so, provides an economic lift to the Greater Portland area during what is typically a slower time of year. It’s truly a win-win for the entire community.”

Ari Brandstein takes a photo of Kathryn Brandstein with their niece and nephew, Vincent Raponi, 7, and Marianna Raponi, 3, with Sunday River mascots Eddy and Betty the yetis at Carnaval Maine in February. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer

The event was founded in 2019 and modeled after Quebec City’s popular Carnaval held every February. Musical guests have included Ghost of Paul Revere and Scotty McCreery.

In addition to headlining concerts on four of the five nights, the latest festival will feature theater, comedy shows, ice sculptures, performances from students at Maine Academy of Modern Music, a variety of food trucks and the popular Bites & Brews event that pairs local chefs with craft breweries. Among the businesses participating are: Luke’s Lobster & Allagash Brewing Co., Mast Landing Brewing Co. & Nighthawk’s Kitchen, Shipyard Brewing Co. and Navis Café and more.

This year’s Carnaval Maine event will scale back some of the winter sports offerings that had been part of the festival in the past, including Rail Jam, a makeshift snow area built by the folks from Sunday River, where skiers and snowboarders competed for spectators.

Corcoran explained that the unpredictable weather and high costs of operations outweighed the benefits.

More events and entertainment, as well as ticket information, will be announced in the coming weeks on Carnaval Maine’s website, carnavalme.com.

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