The winter solstice has passed, and the days are growing longer (though it might not feel like it just yet). Colorado celebrates the snowiest season with a flurry of winter festivals. Here are some highlights:
Jan. 9-12, Breckenridge, gobreck.com/event/ullr-fest/
Grab your Viking hat and spent Christmas tree, and join the crowd at the parade and bonfire on Main Street. The guest of honor is the Norse god of winter, Ullr, who for the past 55 years has been celebrated for blessing this mountain ski town with its lifeblood: fresh snow. He’ll be feted with the crowning of the Ullr king and queen, a townwide talent show, the World’s Longest Shotski competition, parade, bonfire, cocktails, comedy, a bike race, film fest and ice skating.
BIG BEERS, BELGIANS & BARLEYWINES FEST
Jan. 10-12, Beaver Run Resort & Conference Center, Breckenridge. Single-event tickets: $75- $125; seminars: $15-$60; gobreck.com/event/big-beers-festival-jan-10-12/
In Colorado, beer is celebrated all year long, and this event gets the party started early. Taste hundreds of big (high-alcohol content), Belgian-style and experimental brews with food pairings. It’s an opportunity to chat with brewmasters and beer experts and learn about beer-brewing.
Jan. 10-13, hosted by the Aspen Chamber Resort Association at locations throughout Aspen, aspenchamber.org/events/acra-annual-events/winterskol
Aspen’s annual “toast to winter,” which dates to 1951, features films, concerts, comedy, a rail jam in Wagner Park, bonfire, fireworks over Aspen Mountain, a snow sculpture competition and the kickoff of Bauhaus 100: Aspen, a nine-month celebration of the ways the German art movement influenced the city.
ESTES PARK WINTER FESTIVAL AND WINTER TRAILS DAY
1-5 p.m. Jan. 19-20, Estes Park Events Center, 1125 Rooftop Way, Estes Park, $30 daily event access/drinking tickets (21+); $15 general admission (13+) without drinks; $5 admission for children (4-12); free entry for children under 4; estesparkeventscomplex.com/winter-festival.html
Have some winter fun indoors with beer tastings, a chili cook-off, food trucks cuisine, live music, retail vendors, inflatables for the kids, winter sports gear demos and skating on an indoor synthetic ice rink. If you’d rather enjoy the great outdoors, Jan. 20 is Rocky Mountain National Park Winter Trails Day, featuring igloo-making demos from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. and a snowshoe festival with snowshoe demos and advice from experts. Events are free with park admission (if the park is not closed due to a government shutdown). Info: 800-443-7837, nps.gov/romo/ index.htm
INTERNATIONAL SNOW SCULPTURE CHAMPIONSHIPS
Jan. 21-30, Breckenridge, free, gobreck.com/event/international-snow- sculpture-championships/
For 29 years, teams of artists from around the world have gathered in historic downtown Breckenridge to create giant sculptures in the mediums of the season: snow and ice. Watch the works of snow art being made Jan. 21-25 at the snow sculpture competition around Riverwalk Center. The sculptures will be on view until 7 p.m. Jan. 30. Presented by Breckenridge Brewery and Hometown Toyota Stores.
OURAY ICE FESTIVAL
Jan. 24-27, Ouray, ourayicepark.com/ouray-ice-festival/
Ouray becomes an ice-climbing mecca in wintertime, and this festival celebrates the sport. Gather to watch expert ice climbers battle for the prize, attend clinics for every skill level, see demos of the latest ice tools, apparel and gear, and enjoy food, music and dance parties.
Jan. 25-27, Golden, weekend pass, $100; with beerfest, $125; daily passes, $20-$85; ullrgrass.com
Enjoy lots of live music and Colorado beer at this festival in Parfet Park and the newly renovated Buffalo Rose event center. The celebration of Ullr, now in its fifth year, features a big lineup of bluegrass, funk and jam bands, including the Sam Bush Band, Drew Emmitt & the UllrGrass Allstars, the New Orleans Suspects, Coral Creek, the Way Down Wanderers and Mighty Pines. The beer festival, with more than 30 breweries and cideries and music on two stages, runs 1-4 p.m. Saturday. Sunday is Family Day, with a dance performance, UllrEgg Hunt, costume parade, crafts and games. Proceeds benefit the Kids Music Project by Coral Creek.
RIO FRIO ICE FEST
Jan. 25-27, Alamosa, alamosarec.org
Well, shiver me timbers: “The Pirate Life” is the theme of this year’s festival. Cross-country ski through the luminaria-lit Cattails Golf Course, compete in the Rio Frio 5K or Fat Tire Bike Races, watch ice carvers, build faux snowman, flaunt your pirate attire in a costume contest, take a polar plunge and warm up at a bonfire.
DENVER WINTER BREW FEST
6-10 p.m. Jan. 25-26, Mile High Station, 2027 W. Lower Colfax Ave., Denver. Tickets: VIP Power (6-7 p.m.) with special cheese sampling and beer pairing plus 7-10 p.m. general admission, $50 advance, $60 at door; 7-10 p.m. general admission, souvenir glass included, $40 advance, $50 at door. denverbrewfest.com
Like beer? Celebrate craft brews (lots of ‘em) from Colorado and beyond along with live music from the Burroughs on Friday and Dead Floyd on Saturday, food and other vendors. Proceeds benefit Swallow Hill Music.
PAGOSA SPRINGS WINTERFEST
Jan. 25-27, sponsored by the Pagosa Springs Area Chamber of Commerce, pagosachamber.com/winterfest/
This family-friendly winter celebration is highlighted by a Hot Air Balloon Mass Ascension over the Pagosa Lakes area, costumed pet parade, sled and fat bike races, BB gun biathlon, Penguin Plunge and a cross-country ski clinic. All events are weather contingent.
Jan. 30-Feb. 3, Durango, snowdown.org
Dust off your superhero cape and head to the 41st annual Snowdown, featuring a comic-con theme. This means participants can draw from many pop-culture categories for costume inspiration. Join more than 100 events, including the Parade of Lights down Main Avenue, adult spelling bee, winter-sporting contests, beard-growing competition, hot-wing eating contest, scavenger hunt, beer plunge and outhouse stuffing.
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS WINTER CARNIVAL
Feb. 6-10, downtown Steamboat Springs and Howelson Hill Ski Area. Purchase a $10 Winter Carnival Button for entry and spectating at all events and a free lift ticket for Howelson Hill, steamboatchamber.com/events/ annual-events/steamboat-winter- carnival/
Winter sports are celebrated Western style. See Nordic athletes navigate an obstacle course, parents and young ski racers go head-to-head on a dual mogul course, folks on shovels being pulled down Main Street behind horses and teams of four participating in a diamond hitch parade, among other events. Benefits the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club.
CRIPPLE CREEK ICE FESTIVAL
Feb. 8-17, Bennett Avenue, Cripple Creek, visitcripplecreek.com. Free parking at the Heritage Center on Colorado 67 with a free weekend shuttle service from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
“Super Heroes in Ice!” is the theme of this year’s festival, a family-friendly showcase of ice sculptures celebrated over two weekends. Chill out by climbing on and taking photos with fantastic works of ice art, riding an ice slide, finding your way through an ice maze or sidling up to an ice bar and liquor luge.
SKI JORING & CRYSTAL CARNIVAL
March 1-3, Leadville, leadvilletwin lakes.com
Ski joring, in which a horse and rider pull a skier on a rope down a snow-covered street and over obstacles, is the thrilling main event. The Crystal Carnival features several Leadville-exclusive competitions, including the Harrison Nordic Knockout Sprints down Harrison Avenue (before the horses get to it), a fat-tire bike ride after dark and the Nordic Paintball Biathlon.
FROZEN DEAD GUY DAYS
March 8-10, Nederland, frozendead guydays.org
Music from 30 bands in heated tents, coffin racing, the Blue Ball costume event, a polar plunge and frozen T-shirt contests are the hallmarks of this Boulder County town’s wacky signature winter event. Now in its 19th year, it’s a tribute to Bredo Morstoel, aka “Grandpa Bredo” or “The Frozen Dead Guy,” whose body was preserved by cryonics after his 1989 death and later transported to a garden shed and kept on dry ice on his family’s property above the town. His descendants hope to one day restore Morstoel to life, if/when medical science figures out how to do so.
MICHELLE KARAS, THE GAZETTE, MICHELLE.KARAS@GAZETTE.COM