People gather inside the Bites and Brews tent at Carnaval ME in February 2022. Brianna Soukup/Staff Photographer file

Carnaval Maine will return for a fourth year in yet another new location.

The Portland winter festival started on the Eastern Promenade and moved to the large parking lot at DiMillo’s on Commercial Street in 2023. Organizers have tweaked the dates, number of days, program, and prices over the years to draw visitors.

But they have yet to share any details or start selling tickets for an event in 2024. Carnaval Maine has been quiet on social media since March, and the website simply promises “exciting things coming in 2024.”

Representatives of Shamrock Sports and Events, the Portland sales and marketing agency that puts on the festival, confirmed Thursday that the event is on for 2024 even though the venue and dates have not been announced.

“Carnaval Maine will happen in 2024 with some exciting new developments which will be shared in late January,” spokesperson Angie Helton wrote in an email Thursday, adding that there would be “new dates and location.”

The festival started to generate interest in Portland businesses in late winter when sales were often stagnant. It’s modeled loosely on Winter Carnival (sometimes called Carnaval) in Quebec, which has been held annually since the 1950s and draws hundreds of thousands of people to the historic Canadian city.


In Maine, organizers seem to be searching for the right formula. The first Carnaval Maine was three days in January 2020 at Eastern Promenade Park. The event was canceled in 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic but returned to the Prom in 2022 for 10 days in February. Last winter, Shamrock Sports and Entertainment moved Carnaval Maine to the Old Port and scheduled five days of entertainment in March. The focus shifted from outdoor activities to local food and music.

It is not clear how else the festival will change this winter, but the location will definitely be new.

Robert Flannery 10, of Gorham, tries curling as part of Carnival Maine in 2023. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer file

Portland spokesperson Jessica Grondin said the city has not received any requests for permits on public property. Steve DiMillo said Carnaval Maine will not return to the parking lot outside the restaurant for a second year.

“It didn’t work for our operation,” DiMillo said. “They failed to attract a crowd, and it wasn’t good for our restaurant business. It wasn’t as good for us as we thought it might be.”

“I don’t know what they’re up to,” he added.

In 2022, when the festival lasted more than a week, organizers reported that attendance was 22,000. Brian Corcoran, CEO of Carnaval Maine and owner-operator of Shamrock Sports and Entertainment, said later that the city was a great partner, but the space they used in the park had become too small. He predicted as many as 20,000 visitors in 2023, but the festival posted on Facebook in March that 10,800 people attended the event that year.

“We’re getting great feedback from fans who are here with the overall energy,” Corcoran said in March. “It’s great having Carnaval Maine integrated into the fabric of our award-winning culinary and the appreciated bar scene here. It’s been beneficial for us and them.”

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