SubscribeAvailable Now
The 2018 Aspen Wintersköl. Courtesy of C2 Photography

18 Mountain Town Events You Can’t Miss This Winter

There are plenty of reasons to head to the mountains this season, but here are the events you should add to your mountain bucket list.

 •  

Big Beers, Belgians, & Barleywines Festival

Colorado’s beer connoisseurs flock to this mountain town each winter for one of the most intimate events among the state’s wide array of brewery celebrations. Five o’clock never ends during a weekend full of educational seminars (like a morning yoga session with your favorite brew), tastings (including a commercial event with more than 500 Belgian, experimental, and high-alcohol beers), and a home-brew competition.
Where: Beaver Run Resort, Breckenridge
When: January 9–11, 2020
Cost: Ticket prices vary

The 69th Annual Wintersköl

Aspen kicks off its family-friendly winter festival with a 48-hour snow sculpture competition for adults and kids, but the frozen festivities don’t end there. Visitors can witness the Torchlight Descent, where synchronized skiers cruise down Aspen Mountain carrying lit torches, and then enjoy the fireworks extravaganza. Other events to get you out on the mountain include a canine fashion show, free film screening of Aspen Extreme, and a parade.
Where: Aspen
When: January 9–12, 2020
Cost: Free

Aspen Gay Ski Week

Raise that rainbow flag high because this week-long festival—the longest-running gay ski week in the U.S.—is filled with seven nights of parties, dinners, comedy shows, films, concerts, and access to all four mountains in Aspen. Not only will your ticket give you freedom to enjoy this VIP experience, but your purchase will also benefit AspenOUT, a local nonprofit focused on anti-bullying and tolerance.
Where: Aspen
When: January 12–19, 2020
Cost: Ticket prices vary

Estes Park Winter Festival

It’s time to perfect your family’s recipe for this winter festival, which features two chili cook-offs, a silent disco, live entertainment from local bands like the Who Do’s, and beer samples from local breweries. While you soak up the dramatic scenes in Estes Park, kids can get their faces painted, battle it out on the inflatable obstacle course, and snap some goofy pictures in the photo booth.
Where: Estes Park Event Center, Estes Park
When: January 18–19, 2020
Cost: $5–$30 per ticket

Winter Park Family Fest

After a long day on the slopes, curl up by the bonfire at the mountain’s base and enjoy Winter Park’s monthly family firework show, complete with a s’mores bar and accompanying DJ tunes.
Where: Winter Park Resort
When: January 18, February 15, and March 14, 2020
Cost: Free

Photo courtesy of Jeremy Swanson

X Games Aspen

The world’s premier winter action sports event will take over Buttermilk once again. With performances from renowned artists, including Alesso, Bazzi, Illenium, and Rae Sremmurd, and free admission to see jaw-dropping stunts, this annual competition is a must see. 
Where: Buttermilk, Aspen
When: January 23–26, 2020
Cost: Free for viewing (additional ticket prices vary)

Ouray Ice Park
Photo courtesy of San Juan Mountain Guides

Ouray Ice Festival

Ouray becomes the ultimate hub for ice climbers during this winter festival, which draws in pros and novices alike to ascend icy walls, socialize, and test out the latest outdoor gear. Newbies can try the sport themselves with clinics and introductory lessons, and athletes can dance the night away during one of the many afterparties.
Where: Ouray Ice Park, Ouray
When: January 23–26, 2020
Cost: Free for viewing (additional ticket prices vary)

Rio Frio Ice Fest

Get your swimsuit ready for one of the coldest beach parties in the nation because there’s no shortage of frozen events at this tropical-themed ice festival. Visitors can see the creation of four life-sized ice sculptures, participate in the Rio Frio 5K on the frozen Rio Grande, cross-country ski on groomed trails, or plunge into the chilling Blanca Vista Pond. To beat the hypothermia, head to the festival’s Grub & Pub, where adults can make their way through downtown restaurants for a variety of appetizer and drink samples.
Where: Alamosa
When: January 24–26, 2020
Cost: Free for viewing (additional ticket prices vary)

Winterfest 2020

There’s no excuse to stay indoors during this winter festival, where visitors will see 20 hot air balloons fill the sky. In addition to the balloon ascension, families can participate in a fat bike race, people can dress their pets for the annual Barkus Parade in honor of the Humane Society, and the brave can dive into the freezing cold San Juan River for the annual Penguin Plunge.
Where: Pagosa Springs
When: January 24–26, 2020
Cost: Free

42nd Annual Snowdown

With nearly 150 wacky events packed into one weekend, you’ll never grow bored at one of the state’s largest annual seasonal celebrations. Don your best rock-and-roll costumes for this year’s theme as you make your way through the host of community-driven activities. This festival has everything from a light parade with more than 60 floats to bed races (teams push a wheeled bed through the streets) and an 18-hole miniature golf tournament at 18 different bars. There’s even a beard-growing competition.
Where: Durango
When: January 29 to February 1, 2020
Cost: Free for viewing (additional ticket prices vary)

Winter Whiteout

For the entire month of February, Lake City is hosting a variety of icy competitions and challenges perfect for winter adventurists. Thrill-seeking enthusiasts can scale the Lake City ice wall in one of the many ice-climbing competitions, gather a team of three for pond hockey on the frozen Lake San Cristobal, or bring their own fishing pole for the annual ice fishing derby.
Where: Lake City
When: February 2020
Cost: Free for viewing (additional ticket prices vary)

Powderhorn Ski-a-thon

Even if you already like to careen down the mountain from open to close, this event allows you to give back to charity while you shred as many vertical feet as you can for seven hours straight. Registration fees will benefit local nonprofit Protect Our Winters, which focuses efforts on legislation regarding climate change. The fundraiser is open to all skill levels.
Where: Powderhorn Mountain Resort, Mesa
When: February 2, 2020
Cost: Free for viewing (registration prices vary)

Photo courtesy of Steamboat Springs Chamber/ Rory B. Clow

Steamboat Winter Carnival

For more than 100 years, Steamboat Springs has embraced its Western heritage and tradition of winter sports with this winter carnival. Horses pull youngsters on skis or snowboards through the streets, where they can complete the Donkey Jump, a crowd favorite that sends kids soaring off a ramp for up to 40 or 50 feet of air. Get rid of that cabin fever and witness the Night Extravaganza on Howelsen Hill as the city attempts to break a fireworks world record with the launch of one of the biggest and brightest in the nation.
Where: Steamboat Springs
When: February 5–9, 2020
Cost: $10 for entrance

Cripple Creek Ice Festival

The roar of chainsaws dominates the small town of Cripple Creek as sculpting teams from around the country compete to transform 300-pound ice blocks into sparkling works of art during this frozen festival. Adults can watch the artists-at-work from the comfort of a heated beer tent with live music and a wine tasting, while kids can bundle up and whip down the slippery ice slide.
Where: Cripple Creek
When: February 8–16, 2020
Cost: Free

Leadville Ski Joring and Crystal Carnival Weekend

Ski joring found its way to Leadville in the 1940s, and soon the town sanctioned its own competition. Now, the sport is part of the town’s winter carnival, which features Nordic sprint races, a winter mountain bike race, and a paintball biathlon. All of which means you have even more reasons to brave  I-70 that weekend.
Where: Leadville
When: March 6–8, 2020
Cost: Free

Photo courtesy of Andrew Wyatt

Frozen Dead Guy Days

This slightly morbid festival pays homage to Bredo Morstol—a dead man who is frozen on dry ice and housed in a shed high above Nederland. The three-day spectacle features 30 live bands in heated tents, costumed coffin racing, polar plunging, a parade of hearses, and frozen T-shirt contests. 
Where: Nederland
When: March 13–15, 2020
Cost: Free for viewing (additional ticket prices vary)

McDonald’s Cardboard Derby

We all want to have the best gear on the mountain, but at this innovative competition, participants must craft their snowy vehicle solely using cardboard, duct tape, string, twine, and paint. Competitors will then try to successfully navigate Purgatory’s tubing hill in their makeshift creations to claim first prize.
Where: Purgatory Resort, Durango
When: March 14, 2020
Cost: $10–$20 to enter (free to view)

Photo Courtesy of Dave Camara/Arapahoe Basin Ski Area

Enduro & Après Party

Grab your partner and enter the ultimate endurance downhill ski test. You’ll have 10 hours to complete as many laps as possible up and down A-Basin’s Pali chair to win the most elite bragging rights. Even if you don’t walk home with the champion title, all participants will get a T-shirt, the 2020 Enduro poster, an Italian dinner, fresh brews, prize giveaways, and a night of fun at the après party. 
Where: Arapahoe Basin Ski Area, Dillon
When: April 8, 2020
Cost: $150 for teams of two

What We're Reading

Newsletters

Keep me up to date on the latest trends and happenings around Denver. 5280 has a newsletter for everyone.

Sign Up