Tens of thousands of tourists come to Colorado each year to experience the epic skiing/riding that the Rocky Mountains has to offer, with each resort serving up unique events to keep the fun going—even after you’ve left the slopes!

Here, in no particular order, are 10 annual winter events in Colorado that you should check out the next time you stay in a vacation rental in the Centennial State.

1. Winter X-Games


Winter x-games contestant riding a snow mobile, waving their hand.
Winter X-Games in Aspen | Photo courtesy of JGS Concepts

Every year in late January atop the slopes of Buttermilk, Aspen hosts the Winter X-Games. Snow sports superstars compete in daring feats of athleticism, which are free for public viewing. The event also includes free music and festival-style events. Grab a seat in one of Aspen’s local bars to watch it on the big screen!

2. Ullr Nights

Snowmass Village

Long exposure of lights on a snow lift in Snowmass Aspen.
Snowmass night lights | Photo Courtesy of Aspen Snowmass

When the chairlifts shut down and night falls on a Friday night in Snowmass Village, take a trip to Elk Camp for Ullr Night—a celebration of the Norse god of snow hosted from December through April. There’s a snow fort called the Ghost Ship to explore, an ice skating rink, snow bikes for tots, and a tubing hill. Grab a stick with marshmallows and hang around the bonfire to toast them.

3. Colorado Night Skiing


Vibrant sunset over the mountains of Keystone, Colorado during night skiing.
Night skiing in Keystone | Photo courtesy of Ben Onken

November through March, Keystone offers one of the longest ski days in Colorado with runs staying open until 8 p.m.! Groomed and well lit, its night skiing trails offer breathtaking views and a unique ride with family or your sweetie.

4. Kidtopia


Kids forming a line in front of Ski Instructor.
Kids skiing | Photo courtesy of Tyczka1

Take your kiddos to the biggest snow fort in Colorado for an afternoon of painting with Cupcakes and Canvases, hanging out with Ripparoo—the Ski & Ride School’s mascot—and meeting the avalanche rescue dogs and the ski patrol members who keep the mountain safe. Keystone’s Kidtopia is known by locals as a family-friendly ski season staple—and who could argue with free cookies every hour?

5. World’s Best Chocolate Chip Cookie Competition


Two boys eating giant chocolate chips cookie.
Boys eating chocolate chip cookies | Photo courtesy of Juhan Sonin

Speaking of cookies, you don’t want to miss opening day in November at Beaver Creek Resort. The finalists of the World’s Best Chocolate Chip Cookie Competition serve their creations to crowds of cookie enthusiasts between runs.

6. Winter Carnival

Steamboat Springs

Spectators waiting for the Winter Carnival in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.
Spectators at the Winter Carnival | Photo courtesy of Frank DiBona

You won’t find anything typical about the Steamboat Springs Winter Carnival. One of the oldest winter carnivals west of the Mississippi, guests can see a myriad of tricks: cowboys on horseback pulling adults on shovels, and children on skis or snowboards (known as the Donkey Jump), athletes leaping through hoops of fire, and the “Lighted Man,” who wears a suit of twinkling lights—all parading down the mountain in early February!

7. Snow Daze


Musicians performing in front of an audience at the Snow Daze Festival in Vail, Colorado.
Vail Snow Daze Festival | Photo courtesy of Nate Weigle

Vail likes to start its December season with free tunes and great après-ski deals known as Snow Daze—enjoy an après-ski beer before heading to the main concert, held at Solaris.

8. Cowboy Downhill

Steamboat Springs

Crowd of people watching cowboys ski down Steamboat Springs, Colorado.
Watching the Cowboy Downhill | Photo courtesy of stretchdog

You may not think to group cowboys and snow in the same sentence, but that doesn’t stop a group of Pro Rodeo cowboys from competing in The Cowboy Downhill mid-January in full rodeo apparel!

9. CarniVail


CarniVail Parade
CarniVail Parade | Photo courtesy of Snow Snow

New Orleans comes to the Rockies with CarniVail, an early-February celebration of Mardi Gras at 8,150 feet. Enjoy the Fat Tuesday Parade and Street Party—led by a marching band, of course—as well as a Crawfish Boil, Cajun staples like gumbo and beignets, and after-dark parties of all sorts.

10. Torchlight Parade

All Northwest Colorado ski resorts

A crowd of people watching New Year's Eve fireworks on a mountain.
New Year’s Eve skiing | Photo courtesy of Oriol Salvador

Every Northwest Colorado ski resort holds a torchlight parade, usually during the major holidays, and predominantly on New Year’s Eve. Employees at the resort light torches and ski in progression down the mountain, creating a beautiful line of light as they descend. It’s a great way to bring in the New Year, and a fun event for the whole family—especially if there’s hot cocoa involved!

Featured photo courtesy of Doug Jones

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Author: Hannah Morrison

Hannah hails from Telluride, CO and currently lives in Portland, where she works as writer, editor, and unofficial resident poet for Team Vacasa. You'll often find Hannah singing and dancing down the sidewalk, making really tall sandwiches, and planning her next long run.