Just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean you have to sit at home in the dark. Instead, get out and explore all that Colorado has to offer by attending these fun winter festivals. (Pro tip: Use the festival as an excuse to plan a long weekend getaway — which can help break up the doldrums of winter!)
Mark your calendar now — here’s a snapshot of the can’t-miss festivals happening throughout the Centennial State this winter.
WinterFest — December 9-11
Held at the Colorado Chautauqua in Boulder, WinterFest is a three-day celebration that includes lots of family-friendly activities. Explore the grounds on a scavenger hunt, take a festive carriage ride, do arts and crafts, decorate cookies and visit Santa at the Missions House Lodge.
Superior Winter Festival and Winter Dance Showcase — December 9-10
Head to Superior for a weekend filled with special holiday moments for the family at the Superior Winter Festival and Winter Dance Showcase. You can meet reindeer, visit with Santa Claus and ride the Polar Express. Also enjoy live musical performances, decorate cookies, make ornaments, snack on s’mores and get a little shopping done at the winter market. There’s even a hot cocoa bar with a selection of fun toppings! On the second day of the festival, you can watch performances by groups like Danse Etoile Ballet and Absolute Velocity Dance.
Wintersköl — January 11-14
Make your way up to Aspen for this beloved annual tradition, which has been running since 1951. Wintersköl is Aspen’s “toast to winter” and, as such, it includes lots of community-oriented activities, from performances and film screenings to a torchlight ski parade down Ajax.
International Snow Sculpture Championships — January 22-31
You have lots of time to get up to Breck for the International Snow Sculpture Championships. During the first week of this annual event, teams descend upon the mountain town and start carving 25-ton blocks of ice — and you can watch them work. Or, if you’d rather see the finished products, head up between Jan. 26-31 and wander through a chilly outdoor sculpture garden.
Manitou Springs Carnivale — February 3 & 10
Celebrate Mardi Gras over two weekends in Manitou Springs. If you can’t make it for both weekends, here’s a quick rundown of what’s on tap. Feb. 3 offers a chance to dress up for the masquerade ball, while on Feb. 10, you can attend the Mumbo Gumbo Jumbo Cook-Off and the Carnivale Parade. This year’s theme is “ARTopia.”
Cripple Creek Ice Festival – February 17-25
By late February, winter can start to get a little old. Liven up your life by attending some or all of the Cripple Creek Ice Festival, which hosts some of the best ice-carving teams in the country. After they miraculously transform blocks of ice into beautiful sculptures, you can marvel at their work — and vote for your favorite in the People’s Choice Award. (And while you’re there, you can keep the ice theme going by checking out the Ice Castles!)
Frozen Dead Guy Days — March 15-17
Last year was Frozen Dead Guy Days‘ first year in its new home in Estes Park. The festivities are back for another year of entertaining fun in honor of Grandpa Bredo, whose frozen body is still in Nederland but may soon be moved up to Estes. Coffin races, a polar plunge and tons of live music are all on the docket for this year’s Frozen Dead Guy Days.
Taste of Vail — April 3-6
Live it up while getting in a few last spring skiing laps at Taste of Vail, an annual four-day event that celebrates good food and wine. You can shred the slopes of Vail Ski Resort, then indulge (and learn something new) while attending seminars, wine dinners and tastings.