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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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!
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
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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