I love things that make me feel like a little kid again; things like magic, 50 pound bags of popcorn at Costco and fresh snow. There’s something nostalgic about being truly awed, and as we get older that feeling happens less frequently.
However, these three Colorado winter festivals are sure to amaze even the most stoic adult. And if you bring along the kids, they’ll have memories to last a lifetime.
Telluride Fire Festival
January 20-22, 2017
The fire arts seem to have gained popularity over the last five years or so. Fire performers combine the entertainment style of Cirque de Soleil with the power of combustion. It’s sort of like magic because most of us have no idea how they do what they do.
Telluride Fire Festival is in its third year. It takes inspiration from Burning Man, and has been created by an incredible group of dedicated people in Telluride.
I attended the first-year event and I can tell you from personal experience that Telluride Fire Festival will make you feel like a kid again. From 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, spontaneous fire performances occur around town. From art cars to fire-breathing sculptures, it’s truly spectacular. Best of all, these events are free.
Additional ticketed events and workshops take place at various venues around town throughout Telluride Fire Festival. Explore their event calendar to learn more.
International Snow Sculpture Championships
Sculpting Week – January 24 to 28, 2017
Viewing Week – January 28 to February 5, 2017
I had heard about this Breckenridge event for years before I actually attended it in 2015, and I can honestly report that it lived up to the hype. The sheer scope of these snow sculpture is astounding, but then when you see the detail the artists are able to render in snow, it’s downright incredible.
Walking among these giant, snowy effigies gives me that spine-tingly excitement that’s a reminder of childhood.
I recommend attending the International Snow Sculpture Championships towards the end of the sculpting period when the artists are finishing up their sculptures. Watching the sculptors work gives real insight to the difficulty of this competition. I also encourage you to visit once at night too. Darkness adds a certain level of magic to this event.
Crystal Carnival & Ski Joring
March 3-5, 2017
Last, but certainly not least, I can almost guarantee that you’ll verbalize some “oohs” and “ahhs” at Crystal Carnival in Leadville. The ski joring competition at this festival is one of the most hair raising events I’ve ever witnessed in person and I’ve watched ice climbing.
The ski joring competition at Crystal Carnival is the real deal. This isn’t a stunt performance for the crowds. These are real cowboys, cowgirls and skiers who come to Leadville to compete for real cash prizes and bragging rights.
Leadville’s main street, Harrison Avenue, is transformed into a snowy raceway for the ski joring competition that occurs throughout Crystal Carnival weekend.
I recommend checking the schedule and arriving early so you can get a good spot to watch, preferably around the jumps.
Other events take place during Crystal Carnival including a night mountain bike ride in the snow called the Mineral Belt Mayhem, and there’s usually an evening dance at the local Elk’s Club with a live band. However, the highlight at this festival is definitely the ski joring, so don’t miss it.
A Note from the Mayor: This article first appeared in the Berthoud Weekly Surveyor where I work as a reporter-at-large. The original title was “Explore Colorado.”
Colorado is a beautiful state. Even the towns that dot the Eastern Plains have their own sort of nostalgic charm. However, there are a few towns that really sparkle when blanketed with a fresh layer of snow. Here are the towns that I consider to be three of the most picturesque winter towns in Colorado.
Coloradans have a long time love affair with Crested Butte. And while it’s not quite the same quaint place it once was – according to Zillow the median home price is $995,000 – it still retains an authenticity that residents and visitors love.
Crested Butte sits on the border of where ranch land merges with the mountains. The town, which is located a short (free) bus ride from Crested Butte Mountain Resort, is full of colorful Victorian buildings, many of which house fantastic restaurants.
The town was incorporated in 1880, and had a population at that time of 400. In addition, approximately 1000 miners lived in the surrounding area. One of Crested Buttes’ most popular winter festivals, Al Johnson Memorial Uphill/Downhill Telemark Ski Race, is a celebration of Al Johnson, a mail carrier who traveled between the mining communities in the Crested Butte area in the late 1800s. Continue reading
There’s big news in Ouray. The 80-year-old hot springs pool is getting a major facelift and this is incredibly exciting. Unfortunately, this means the pool is closed this winter and it’s a big draw to Ouray at any time of year.
However, the pool closure is no reason to postpone or cancel a trip to Ouray. No way! Not only are there other places to soak, there is so much to do and see in this charming mountain village. Here are just a few suggestions from someone who has been to Ouray multiple times during the winter months – me.
Ouray Ice Park
Even if you don’t ice climb, the Ouray Ice Park is worth visiting. It’s surreal in its beauty and if you happen to be lucky enough to watch someone climbing there, it’s impressive.
It’s easy to give ice climbing a try in Ouray, especially during several winter events. The Ouray Ice Festival, which occurs January 19-22, is an excellent way to become acquainted with the sport. This festival isn’t just for experts. There are presentations and clinics for every level, live music and more. It’s a party with ice climbing as the highlight. Continue reading
I used to call this annual post “Top 10 HeidiTown Highlights,” but I’m going to change it up this year because everyone loves a “Best Of” list, right? It’s a hard post for me to compose because every year seems to bring with it many incredible Colorado experiences. This makes it hard to boil an entire year down to ten major highlights, but every year I do it.
This was a big year. I turned forty and we traveled a lot – to every corner of the state and the middle parts too. One of the major highlights was visiting Trinidad, Colorado (1) for ArtoCade, an art car extravaganza. This town blew us away. I love being surprised (in a good way) about a new place and I’m truly excited about the future of this friendly, quirky community.
Another standout experience was staying at a Never Summer (2) yurt near Cameron Pass last winter with our old dog, Xena. We’d never stayed in a yurt, let alone during winter and it was terrific. I loved the smell of the wood burning stove and the feeling of total peace as I snuggled into our yurt’s queen bed. I didn’t even mind having to use the outhouse, something I usually hate with a fierce passion. Continue reading
I’ll be the first to admit that I love online shopping. I’m also going to admit that when I visited Ouray this past weekend for Wine, Chocolate & Cheese Festival, I had no intention of Christmas shopping while in town except to maybe find something for my nieces at Ouray’s excellent toy store.
The new owners have taken a keen interest in getting to know the products they sell, and Tina helped us pick out the perfect gifts for our pre-teen and post-toddler nieces. We also picked up a new card game that’s been a hit in Ouray. It’s called Happy Salmon and is chaos your family will love. Continue reading
Lyons, Colorado is one of our longtime haunts; after all, we’ve been visiting for more than a decade. It’s home to one of Ryan’s favorite destination, Lyons Classic Pinball, and anytime we’re in town some pinball must be played.
Last Friday, we had a new destination in Lyons – Spirit Hound Distillers. They’d invited me for a tour and we’d gladly accepted. Spirit Hound has been open for four years, and I’m embarrassed to say that this was my first visit.
The distillery has obviously been embraced by locals as the place was packed on a Saturday evening.
We weren’t just here for a tour, but to taste some spirits, including their holiday drinks made with their recently released barrel aged rum. Ryan had a warm chocolatey rum drink while I had my first-ever hot buttered rum – I highly approve. Continue reading
Considering a holiday getaway this month? Fort Collins is an excellent Colorado Christmas town. Downtown sparkles with thousands of lights and from Old Town Square to Oak Street Plaza Park, the atmosphere is merry.
This past weekend, we did one-night getaway in Fort Collins to experience the city’s holiday offerings. Before exploring the festive scene we checked into the Fernweh Inn & Hostel on Mulberry, just blocks from the excitement of downtown Fort Collins.
Some people, including my husband, Ryan, have an aversion to any place with hostel in the name. The word makes him worried that he’s going to have to share a bathroom or wash dishes to earn his keep.
Fernweh is a modern-day, American hostel which offers private rooms as well as bunk rooms. Our private room, “The Loft,” was a virtual suite because the space occupied the entire upstairs of this historic, Victorian home. There was a full bathroom in the room complete with large, soaking bathtub and multiple beds, making it perfect for a family or friends. Continue reading
Know someone who loves food? Instead of buying them a cookbook or newfangled kitchen item, how about buying them a foodie experience?
Colorado has blossomed with food tours over the last several years, and I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing several of these delicious excursions.
Local Table Tours
This company was started by a Boulder food blogger who has traveled extensively in the United States and abroad. Today, Local Table run tours in Denver, Boulder and Fort Collins. In Denver, they do a tour at The Source, a Taste of Highlands and in downtown (Taste of LoDo and Union Station).
Their Boulder-based tours including A Taste of Boulder, Cocktail Tours, Coffee & Chocolate Tours and May through October they offer tours at the Boulder Farmers’ Market.
In Fort Collins, tasting tours include a Cocktail Tour, Waffle & Chocolate Tour, Artisans at Scotch Pines Tour and, the one I experienced this past summer, the Jessup Farm Tasting Tour. Continue reading
I love the towns along the I70 corridor, but let’s face it, ski traffic, and even summer traffic, has gotten terrible along this highway. If you can swing it, one of the best way to avoid traffic along this route is to plan your trip for Saturday to Monday. I realize this isn’t always possible, so here are some ways to avoid I70 ski traffic this winter.
The Amtrak Winter Park Express is back. This is great news, if you’ve got the money. The cheapest fare I could find for a Saturday in mid-January was $108 for a round trip ride per person. For two people, riding the ski train is a rather expensive proposition, but taking the ski train would be a fun way to celebrate a special occasion this winter. Continue reading
Looking for something unique to do with the entire family this holiday season? Look no further than Brewery Lights at the Budweiser plant in Fort Collins, Colorado.
Last week, I was invited to opening night at Brewery Lights which takes place Thursdays through Sundays from 5 to 10 p.m. through December 30, 2016.
Ryan and I arrived early for a meet and greet with the Budweiser Clydesdales. One of the teams was in town for the weekend, and Clydesdale handler, Zane, introduced us to Frankie. At just four-years-old, Frankie stands 19 hands tall and is about 2000 lbs. He nuzzled us, looking for treats, and seemed to personify the breed’s reputation as “gentle giants.” Continue reading