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Colorado winter festivals heat things up

January 10, 2018 Updated: January 10, 2018 at 11:47 am
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A Climber inches toward the top of the canyon in the Ouray Ice Park during the 2011 Ouray Ice Festival Saturday, Jan. 8, 2011. The four-day festival, features clinics, gear demos, and a competition with climbers from around the world. ( The Gazette, Christian Murdock)

Mother Nature gave us winter for a reason: snow sports, hot drinks, hot tubs and hearty foods. Celebrate her generosity at a deluge of winter festivals around Colorado.

Ullr Fest

Wednesday through Jan. 13, Breckenridge, free, 888-251-2417

Grab your spare Viking hat and head to Breckenridge to celebrate Ullr, the Norse god of winter. More than 12,000 attendees will fill the streets for the biggest bonfire in town, the Ullr Ice Plunge, a fat bike race, talent show, comedy night, film festival, family activities and popular Ullr Parade, which features ski stunts and folks riding down Main Street in a hot tub.

Estes Park Winter Festival

Jan. 13-14, Estes Park Events Center, 1125 Rooftop Way, Estes Park, $30 tasting tickets, $15 10 and older, $5 ages 4-9, 800-443-7837

Beer, chili, barbecue, music and more. What else can a winter lover want? Head to the scenic mountain town for chili tasting Saturday and barbecue Sunday. Between the feasting and imbibing, browse the retail vendors and hear some tunes from four bands.

Ouray Ice Festival

Jan. 18-21, free, admission for nightly events and clinics, 970-325-4288

The folks who flock to Ouray during winter see no reason why they shouldn't shimmy their way up a stalagmite or two. Even if you don't share that desire, you can spend Saturday and Sunday watching the world's best ice climbers do their thing. Attendees also can partake in daily vendor exhibits and attend more than 100 interactive and educational climbing clinics for every skill level. The evenings give way to multimedia presentations, music, food and dance parties.

Joe Parsons jumps above the lights during the Snowmobile Freestyle competition on the second day of the Aspen 2016 X Games Friday, Jan. 28, 2016, at Buttermilk Mountain in Aspen, Colo. Parsons took the gold with a score of 90.00. (The Gazette, Christian Murdock) 

Winter X Games

Jan. 25-28, Buttermilk Mountain, Aspen, free, $25-$150 general admission for concerts

Scope out some of the world's best ski, snowboard, snow bike and snowmobile athletes as they compete in 17 disciplines. When the work is done, the partying begins, with music from an all-star lineup: LCD Soundsystem, Marshmello, Martin Garrix and Method Man and Redman.


Jan. 26-28, Golden, $15-$250, beer tickets $25-$45

Old man Ullr (Norse god of winter) shows up again in Golden for three days of music, beer and celebration. This year's entertainment features members of Railroad Earth, Leftover Salmon, Lyle Lovett Band, Coral Creek, Hot Buttered Rum and Hot Rize, plus the bands Rapidgrass, Drunken Hearts and others. A beer ticket earns you bottomless craft beer and cider samplings. Vendors, activities for kids and fare from food trucks are also available.

Rio Frio Ice Fest

Jan. 26-28, Alamosa, free, $15-$30 5K registration

A superhero theme will dominate the festival this year. Fans can expect ice sculptures of their favorite larger-than-life characters, along with a moonlight cross-country ski journey, polar plunge, costume contest for kids, fire and ice bonfire and a new ice carousel, a large spinning circle of ice set on the frozen Blanca Vista Park pond.


Jan. 31-Feb. 4, Durango, free

Durango knows how to throw a mid-winter theme party. This year's 40th anniversary theme, "A Black Tie Affair," encourages attendees to dress the part as they go about their revelry, which includes the Snowdown Follies and a giant parade Friday night. More than 100 events take place in multiple locations over five days.

Steamboat Springs Winter Carnival

Feb. 7-11, free, 970-879-0695

This five-day carnival celebrates athleticism and winter. National Geographic once dubbed it one of the top 10 winter carnivals in the world. Visitors can watch athletes race down Howelsen Hill and ski down Main Street as they maneuver around cones, fly off jumps, practice spins and aerials. Be sure to watch the famous Lighted Man in his pyrotechnic suit shoot fireworks from his body before the extravaganza culminates with an even bigger display of firecrackers.

Frozen Dead Guy Days

March 9-11, $15, Nederland, 303-506-1048

Three days of merriment is dedicated to Bredo Morstol, an actual frozen guy who's housed in a Tuff Shed on dry ice above Nederland. Folks can enjoy 30 bands in three heated tents and events such as coffin racing, costumed polar plunge, ice turkey bowling, frozen salmon toss, ice sculpting contests, silent disco, parade of hearses and more.

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