Top Winter Events & Festivals In Colorado

January 11, 2011 11:54 AM

(credit: Winter Park-Fraser Valley Chamber of Commerce)

It’s tons of fun in Colorado no matter the season, and with over 300 days of sunshine annually festivals and events occur throughout the year. Winter festivals are just as popular as summer festivals and just as well attended. Events large and small take place all over Colorado during the wintry months, and here are just a few of the very best.
snow sculpting competition Top Winter Events & Festivals In Colorado

Budweiser International Snow Sculpture Championships (photo credit: Peter Pereira)

Budweiser International Snow Sculpture Championships

Riverwalk Center
150 West Adams Avenue
Breckenridge, CO 80424
(970) 453-3187
This event isn’t just a celebration of snow and sculpture — it’s a serious competition between snow sculpting teams from around the world. The Snow Sculpture Championships has been taking place in Breckenridge for more than two decades, and it’s a highlight of Colorado’s winter events. The actually snow sculpting takes place over a five-day period, with another five days of viewing. In addition to sculpture gazing, visitors can vote for their favorite sculpture in the People’s Choice Awards.

estes park winter festival Top Winter Events & Festivals In Colorado


Estes Park Winter Festival

500 Big Thompson Ave.
Estes Park, CO 80517
(800) 443-7837
Nestled among the snow-capped peaks of the Rockies, Estes Park is the perfect place to celebrate winter. Featuring ice sculpture, shopping, music, chili eating and beer and wine tasting, this is truly a fun winter festival for families and couples. From restaurants to amateurs the chili competition is the highlight of this event. Chili is the classic cold weather food and at the Estes Park Winter Festival visitors can tastes as many different chilis as they can handle. As the gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park, a trip to the Estes Park Winter Festival isn’t complete without at least a short drive through the park. Experiencing RMNP in the winter is awe-inspiring.

stock show parade Top Winter Events & Festivals In Colorado

During the stock show every year longhorns parade up a 17th Street in downtown Denver. (credit: Tom Meyers)

National Western Stock Show

4655 Humboldt Street
Denver, CO 80216
(888) 551-5004
Held for two weeks each January, the stock show has been going strong for more than 100 years. A cattle drive through downtown Denver kicks off this event that brings people from Colorado and beyond. From bull riding to barrel racing to chainsaw demonstrations and livestock auctions, this extravaganza is an opportunity for the public to get an insider look at ranching culture, and for those who live that lifestyle it’s an opportunity to display their skills and wares. With loads of entertainment, as well as serious competitions, the National Western Stock Show is one of the best winter events in Colorado.

Winter Carnival

845 Howelsen Hill Parkway
Steamboat Springs, CO 80477
(877) 754-2269
This unique event began nearly 100 years ago as a way to help residents of Steamboat Springs cope with cabin fever. Today, residents of Ski Town USA® still hit the streets during Winter Carnival to commemorate their town’s western traditions and to highlight the many winter sports for which the town is known. The Street Events are the most popular part of this weekend long festival. Crowds watch and cheer as children on skis or snowboards are pulled down Lincoln Avenue by horses. Other horse events include Street Slalom, Ski Joring, Ring & Spear, Ring & Box and the Donkey Jump. There are non-equestrian events as well such as the Dog and Dad Dash.

winter park snowfest Top Winter Events & Festivals In Colorado

(credit: Winter Park-Fraser Valley Chamber of Commerce)

Winter Park Snowfest

78841 U.S. Hwy. 40
Winter Park, CO 80482
(970) 726-4221
Located just an hour and twenty minutes from Denver, this is one of the most popular ski resort towns in Colorado. Winter Park Snowfest celebrates one of the town’s most famous personalities, Mary Jane, a savvy businesswoman and lady of the night who made her mark in the area in the late 1800s. In 1975, a new section of Winter Park was opened, adding 350 acres and 18 runs to the resort, increasing its size by 80 percent. The addition was named Mary Jane. A night parade and fireworks show kicks off this weekend celebration. There is a lot to enjoy at this event, even for non-skiers, including sled dog races, ice sculpture, sledding, snow competitions, live music and more.

– Heidi Kerr-Schlaefer is the Mayor of and a freelance writer from Northern Colorado. Follow her on Twitter at @HeidiTown.