Ullr Fest (Breckenridge)

What: Ullr FestUllr Festival (Breckenridge CO)
Where: Breckenridge
When: One week each January

Once upon a time, the Norse winter god, Ullr (OOOL-er), was traveling around the Northern Hemisphere depositing snow, when he happened to find himself in the resort ski town of Breckenridge. Locals were pleased to receive Ullr’s gift of snow, and decided to celebrate each year (not coincidentally, during a period known to be a little slow where tourism is concerned) to encourage even more snow on their scenic town and ski area.

Early versions of the festival (then known as “Ullr Dag”, which translates to “Ullr Day” for those of you who don’t happen to speak Norwegian) were pretty wild, and included a huge bonfire of burning skis, and prodigious amounts of alcohol. Things got so exciting that the event was canceled for a while during the early 1970s.

However, it was resurrected by the local Chamber of Commerce in 1979. The recent versions are still a big bash, but the bonfire has been toned down to a “campfire” because it wasn’t very “environmentally healthy.” Still, the local bars and restaurants enjoy offering games and specials to draw in the crowds, and there are numerous fun and sometimes a bit wild events all week.

Ullr Festival (Breckenridge CO)There are snowshoe and Nordic skiing events, the crowning of the King and Queen of Ullr, and a free ice skating party at an indoor arena. But the fun really gets going at the Ullympics, when athletes (and we use that word lightly) participate in strange and hilarious events.

Finally, don’t miss the parade of floats down Main Street. Helmets with large horns are everywhere, as are ski decorations, people dressed in costumes as snowflakes, snow bunnies, and who knows what else. The winning float for 2004 even included a mini-snow slope complete with a brave skier.

If you want an excuse to party, this winter celebration will certainly accommodate you!


For more information, contact:
Breckenridge Resort Chamber
P.O. Box 1909
Breckenridge, CO 80424

(877) 864-0868

Ullr Fest info
email: acenter@gobreck.com

Spring Splash (Winter Park)

What: Spring Splash at Winter ParkSpring Splash - closing day at Winter Park Ski area
Where: Winter Park Ski Area
When: Closing day – usually a Sunday in mid-April

Ah, the last day of the ski season! What better way to celebrate than by skiing through an obstacle course and attempting to end the run by water-skiing (on snow skis or a snowboard) across an icy-cold pond!

Unfortunately, it’ll cost you an entry fee to actually participate in this insanity directly. So, why not stay warm and dry and laugh as you watch other people struggle to keep their skis or snowboards on top of the water? Contestants often wear unusual attire to add to the festive atmosphere of this traditional event. You may see skiers in swimsuits, hockey uniforms, Batman costumes, or even a giant, cuddly elk (or was that a moose?).

Spring Splash - closing day at Winter Park Ski areaIn another contest, people in decorated cardboard boats demonstrate how poorly cardboard floats once it starts to get soaked.

When you tire of watching the skiers do their thing, enjoy some free live music on the decks of restaurants at the base of the mountain.

Winter Park Ski Area, which opened in 1940, is one of the oldest ski areas in Colorado still operating. The historic Ski Train still brings skiers from Denver most weekends of the winter, traveling through the Moffat Tunnel and depositing passengers at the base of the main lifts.

For more information, contact:
Winter Park Resort
P.O. Box 36
Winter Park, CO 80482

800-979-0332 or 970-726-1564

www.skiwinterpark.com or www.winterparkresort.com
email: wpinfo@winterparkresort.com

Snow Sculptures (Breckenridge)

What: International Snow Sculpture ChampionshipsSnow Sculptures (Breckenridge CO)
Where: Breckenridge Riverwalk Center (Between Washington Street & Adams Avenue)
When: Late January or early February

The Breckenridge International Snow Sculpture Championships have been held for over 13 years. With sculpture names like Prometheus (2002), A Fishing Tail (2003), Winter’s Oasis (2004), and The Nautilus (2005), this isn’t your backyard “let’s make a snowman” contest.

The unique snow sculptures are hand crafted works of art which are created over a period of 65 hours from 10 foot by 10 foot by 12 foot tall, 20-ton, specially formed blocks of snow. Artificial snow is used for the best consistency. Front-end loaders dump snow into frames, and volunteer “snow stompers” work to compact the snow.

Four person teams from all over the world meet here in Breckenridge to compete in this yearly event. All sculpting is done using only hand tools.

You might think that there are thousands of dollars in prizes to win as a result of this competition. Nope. The teams get a free ride to and from the Denver airport, and free room and board during the 5-day sculpting period. Winners enjoy recognition for 1st, 2nd and 3rd place as well as awards for Peoples’ Choice, Kids’ Choice and Artists’ Choice, but no cash awards.

Snow Sculpture (Breckenridge CO)You’ll marvel at the attention to detail each of these teams apply to their design. It’s fun to visit the sculptures one day and then return the next to see how they are taking shape. Each sculpture has a drawing on display for spectators to see how the finished product will look.

Each year brings a different selection of sculptures and teams. Present and past sculpture designs can be found on the website referenced below.

If “Texas Chainsaw Massacre” was one of your favorite movies, you’ll also not want to miss the additional event where intricate ice carvings are created using chain saws. Each carving is sculpted into a glowing statue.

Dress warmly and plan on staying around to view all of these exciting displays during the day. Catch dinner at one of the fine Breckenridge restaurants and then return after dark to catch some breathtaking views as the sculptures are lit with attractive lighting and the artists work into the night.

For more information, contact:
Breckenridge Resort Chamber
P.O. Box 1909
Breckenridge, CO 80424

(800) 789-SNOW / (800) 789-7669
(970) 547-3100

Snow Sculpture Championships
email: breckguest@vailresorts.com

Sled Dog Races

What: Colorado Blue Ididarace – Sled Dog RacesDogs1
Where: see footnote *
When: *

The first thing you’ll notice as you step out of your car is the excited barking of the dogs; many, many dogs! This 2-day event features teams of 8, 6, or 4 dogs pulling sleds (hopefully with human musher still aboard) along a track up to 8 miles long.

Skijoring events are also part of the excitement. You don’t know what Skijoring is? Have you ever strapped on a pair of cross-country skis and tried skiing with a dog or two on a leash? Sometimes they pull you; sometimes (on the downhill), you end up ahead of the dogs. And sometimes everyone ends up sprawled in the snow. Well, Skijoring works something like that, but these dogs and drivers manage the whole affair with much more grace and speed (and more appropriate equipment than a leash and collar).

These animals are selected because they love racing, and it really shows. You’ll see the “traditional” breeds such as Siberian Husky and Malamute, and Samoyed, but also many mixed breeds. Some teams will bring along a puppy or two just to expose them to the fun and excitement of the racing environment, so they’ll start to get an idea of what to expect when they mature.

Dog sled racingLike human athletes, sled dogs must train to build up their aerobic stamina, muscle strength, and to learn to work as a team (including the other dogs and their human driver). Good sled dogs love to run, and love to win. There will be no doubt in your mind that these animals are really into their sport when you see them being strapped into a harness, and when the musher has to hold them back at the starting line of a race. They can’t wait to run!

Humans and dogs have been working together with this mode of transportation for thousands of years. Sled dogs played a significant role in arctic and Antarctic exploration, and sometimes also made the ultimate sacrifice by becoming food for their starving human companions. In 1925, sled dog teams made it possible to save countless human lives when they helped deliver an emergency supply of diphtheria antitoxin to Nome, Alaska after an outbreak there. The teams had to travel over 600 miles of difficult and extremely treacherous terrain to deliver their precious cargo.

Please leave your own pet at home when you attend the races. You’ll be able to walk among the dog teams leashed by their kennels, but ask permission of the owners before approaching the animals. Remember, they’re here to race, and having strangers come over to pet them can be distracting.

You can learn more about this fun sport on the web at the site for the International Sled Dog Racing Association or at one of the resources listed below.

Resources for more information:
Rocky Mountain Sled Dog Club, Inc.
Upcoming Sled Dog Races

Colorado Mountain Mushers (non-sanctioned races)

Lone Cone Conquest races

*  We originally wrote this article after attending the Colorado Blue Ididarace in Kremmling.  The bad news: that particular event doesn’t seem to be scheduled any more.  The good news:  many other dog sled and skijoring races are scheduled each winter in the high country.  One is the Lone Cone Conquest (see link above).  Check the other links for current race schedules.

Frozen Dead Guy Days (Nederland)

What: Frozen Dead Guy DaysFrozen Dead Guy Days (Nederland CO)
Where: Nederland
When: 2nd or 3rd weekend in March
Friday evening, Saturday, and Sunday

“Grandpa’s Still in the Tuff Shed.” No, we’re not talking about an elderly, eccentric resident of Nederland who refuses to leave his workshop. We’re talking about what most of us would call a deceased Norwegian gentleman named Bredo Morstoel, who passed away in 1989, but is certainly not forgotten. In fact, his grandson, Trygve Bauge, is paying to have dry ice delivered on a regular basis to a Tuff Shed where Grandpa is being cryogenically preserved (according to Trygve, who the INS deported back to Norway after a disagreement about the need for him to have a green card).

At the time of Trygve’s departure, very few people knew Grandpa was on ice in Trygve’s back yard. His mother (Grandpa’s daughter), however, was distressed about her son’s departure, and fretted to a friend, “What am I going to do about the bodies?” Soon, the whole town of Nederland learned that Grandpa and another “cryogenic client” were stored in an old tin shed.

As you can imagine, this news created quite a stir. The family of body number 2 decided to bury their relative in a more traditional manner, but Trygve insisted that Grandpa should remain where he was. A law was passed making it a crime to keep corpses on private property. However, Grandpa was (wait for it…) “Grandfathered in.” A local radio station arranged for a nice, new Tuff Shed for Grandpa, Trygve found a company to continue delivering dry ice to keep Grandpa at a comfy -60º F, and the annual Frozen Dead Guy Days festivities were born!

Frozen Dead Guy Days (Nederland CO)The schedule varies somewhat from year to year, but perhaps there will be a showing of the hilarious feature-length film, “Grandpa’s Still in the Tuff Shed” (small fee) on Friday night. On Saturday and Sunday, enjoy the Snow Sculpting contest, watch the passing coffins and hearses during the Parade down First Street, cheer on your favorite team in the Coffin Races, or shudder at the lunacy of the people participating in the Polar Plunge for Charity.

There are also art and craft displays, children’s activities, a Frozen Dead Van Smash, snowshoe races, and more. Although there is a fee to actually participate in many of the events, nearly all events are free to watch.

Dress warmly and give our best to Grandpa.

For more information, contact:
Nederland Area Chamber of Commerce
P.O. Box 85
Nederland, CO 80466
(800) 221-0044 or (303) 258-3936



Colorado Ski Museum (Vail)

What: Colorado Ski Museum / Ski Hall of FameColorado Ski Museum (Vail CO) Free
Where: Vail Village Transportation Center
When: Tuesday through Sunday, 10 AM to 5 PM
Closed May & October, and on major holidays

Are you interested in skiing? Well, of course you are — you’re in Colorado, aren’t you?

This fascinating museum offers a trip through time as you view exhibits of skiers and ski equipment dating back to the gold fever days of the late 1890s. That’s right: our state’s earliest ski experts were miners.

Did you realize that, starting in the 1860s, people signed on as mail carriers where they had to teach themselves to ski on huge, heavy runners to deliver mail to places in our high country? No lifts, no avalanche reports, no GPS units, no Ski Patrol to help with a rescue…and they often traveled 50 miles over mountain passes to reach the mining towns they served.

Colorado Ski Museum (Vail CO) - free admissionSkipping ahead quite a few years, Camp Hale and the 10th Mountain Division are well-documented as we revisit their training during the WWII era. When some of the skiers returned from duty to Colorado after the war, their expertise helped develop Aspen, Arapahoe Basin, Vail, and of course, the 10th Mountain Division Trail and Hut system.

The museum also highlights skiing achievements in the Olympic Games and the World Cup. For more on the history of skiing in Colorado, visit the Ski Museum’s History page.

In addition, learn about the accomplishments of inductees to the Ski Hall of Fame. Members include famous names such as ski pioneer “Father” Dyer, early skiing greats Frank Ashley and Dick Durrance, and even filmmaker Warren Miller and President Gerald Ford. A complete list of inductees can be found here.

For more information, contact:
Colorado Ski Museum
231 S. Frontage Rd. E.
Vail, CO 81657


email: info@skimuseum.net

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