These Colorado Winter Festivals Will Make You Feel like a Kid Again

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.

Three Awe-Inspiring Colorado Winter Festivals, Kids Ski Joring Leadville CO 5 - by Lake County Tourism Panel

Crystal Carnival & Ski Joring Weekend in Leadville. Photo provided by the Lake County Tourism Panel.

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.

FractalTribePerformer#2ByRyanBonneau (1)

Photo provided by Telluride Fire Festival. Photo by Ryan Bonneau.

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.

Three Awe-Inspiring Colorado Winter Festivals_CarlScofield

International Snow Sculpture Championships in Breckenridge, Colorado. Photo by Carl Scofield.

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.

Three Awe-Inspiring Colorado Winter Festivals, Ski Joring Leadville by Lake County Tourism Panel

Crystal Carnival & Ski Joring Weekend in Leadville. Photo courtesy Lake County Tourism Panel

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 Winter Weekend at Copper Mountain, Just a Short Drive Away

There are two great reasons to visit Copper Mountain other than the skiing. First, it’s so close to the Front Range. As seasoned Colorado travelers we arranged this trip Saturday to Monday to avoid ski traffic and getting back and forth from this resort was a breeze. Second, Copper has become a fun festival destination.

Festivals at Copper Mountain

Our first trip to Copper was to attend the summertime Genuine Wine & Jazz Festival.

This past weekend, we were back at Copper Mountain for Copper Uncorked, an annual, slopeside festival of wine and wings. This festival is an après ski event with a twist. Eight area restaurants compete in an all out war for your “best wing” vote. The wine flowed, the wings were incredible and the band, New Orleans Suspects kept the crowd dancing.

Copper Uncorked 2016, HeidiTown.com

I can honestly say that this was probably the best slopeside festival (both in value and presentation) that I’ve attended. A really good reason to book a ski trip in Copper on the third weekend in February. Continue reading

Featured Festival: Loveland Fire & Ice Festival 2016

Loveland Fire & Ice Festival LogoThis fire and ice extravaganza in Loveland, Colorado is an exciting event with a little something for everyone in the family.

Occurring over Valentine’s Day weekend in February, it’s the perfect reason to visit the Sweetheart City. The theme of the event is “The Yin & Yang of Light & Dark,” and this theme will be evident throughout the three-day festival.

Fire, fire, fire at Loveland Fire & Ice Festival

This festival embraces fire in several ways. First, the sky above downtown Loveland will light up with firework on all three nights of the event. In addition, there will be fire performers. Fire performing has been gaining popularity in Colorado and if you haven’t had the opportunity to watch a performer/dancer, it’s a mesmerizing experience. There will be multiple fire artists at Loveland Fire & Ice Festival.

metal fire sculpture Loveland Fire & Ice festival

“Take a look at this incredible metal sculpture that we are bringing to the Loveland Fire and Ice Festival thanks to Caitlin Morris! It’s going to be amazing!!” ~Loveland Fire Festival on Facebook

In another nod to the fire theme, the historic buildings along Loveland’s Fourth  Street will be lit up in various colors.

Ice, ice baby at Loveland Fire & Ice Festival

Loveland Fire & Ice Festival features an invitational ice sculpture contest. Twenty blocks of ice will be transformed into frozen art pieces during the event and live ice sculpting is an awesome thing to behold. The awards ceremony for the ice sculpting part of the festival will be held at 7 p.m. on Sunday evening on the Main Stage.

Loveland Fire & Ice Festival 2015. HeidiTown.com (9)

Bands, bands & more bands at Loveland Fire & Ice Festival

Music plays a large part of Loveland Fire & Ice Festival. There will be four stages around downtown Loveland and festival goers will be able to find musical entertainment at any point in the festival. On Saturday evening the Joe O’Bryan Band will headline, while on Sunday the Steve Manshel Band will take the stage before the final fireworks show at 9 p.m.

Loveland Fire & Ice Festival 2015. HeidiTown.com  (15)

New this year, the festival organizers have brought in some very special guests. “Tea Time with Devon Murray and Paula DuPre’ Presman“ from the Harry Potter movies is a ticketed event on Saturday morning held at the Rialto Theater. Also that morning, at the Rialto, “A Magical Moment“ with Devon Murray and Paula DuPre’ Presman.

Throughout the festival visitors can browse the Motor Vehicle Showcase, take a free horse and carriage ride, enjoy children’s activities, grab a bite from a local food truck and more.

The schedule for Loveland Fire & Ice Festival is jam packed with fun. See it in its entirety here.

Loveland Fire & Ice Festival

February 12-14, 2016

Loveland, Colorado (downtown)

Admission: FREE

(Harry Potter event at the Rialto Theater is ticketed)


Loveland Fire & Ice on Facebook

Loveland Fire & Ice on Twitter

Featured Festival spots on HeidiTown.com are paid advertisements. Interested in having your festival or event considered for a feature? Email TheMayor@HeidiTown.com.


Spend Valentine’s Day in Loveland, Colorado

Three years ago I got together for drinks with two good friends, Christine Forster, owner of My Big Day Events and Mechelle Martz-Mayfield, owner of NOCO Short Bus Tours. That’s when we developed My Big Date, the first-ever Valentine’s Day tour packages in Loveland, Colorado.

My Big Date, Valentines Day in Loveland, Brunch & Brew Tour Two. Heidi Kerr-Schlaefer (13)

My Big Date, Valentine’s Day tours in Loveland, Colorado.

This year, we’re at it again and the My Big Date tours are better than ever. We even have a hotel partner offering discounted rates to our attendees. This is especially important because it’s difficult to get a hotel room in Loveland on Valentine’s Day weekend – most hotels book up.

Our tours are so good that our VIP Brunch & Brew tour on 2/14/16 is already sold out, but there are still available tours on 2/13/16. Continue reading

Why You Should go to the Snow Sculpture Championships in Breckenridge, Colorado

Last year I finally got the opportunity to attend the International Snow Sculpture Championships in Breckenridge, Colorado. I’d known about the event for years and wondered if it would live up to the hype.

We were booked at the Village at Breckenridge and our room overlooked the parking lot in which the snow sculpting teams were working on their creations.

We were lucky enough to stay for long enough to watch the sculptures as they were carved into their various final compositions.

As we watched the sculptures take shape over several days I was blown away by the size and intricacy of each piece. The photographs I had seen of this event, while amazing, just simply hadn’t done it justice. Seeing this event in person is truly astounding.

1st place Team Lithuania at the International Snow Sculpture Championships in Breckenridge, Colorado. HeidiTown (1)

1st place Team Lithuania at the International Snow Sculpture Championships in Breckenridge, Colorado 2015.

1st place Team Lithuania at the International Snow Sculpture Championships in Breckenridge, Colorado. HeidiTown (7)

1st place Team Lithuania 2015

This year’s event International Snow Sculpting Championships run Jan. 18 through February 7, 2016. The ideal time to visit, in my opinion, is Jan. 26-30 while the sculptures are being created, especially Jan. 29 when the teams work late into the night to finish their pieces. Watching the sculptures come to life, so to speak, is quite astonishing. Continue reading

Get bird nerdy with me in Lamar, Colorado

A preview of the High Plains Snow Goose Festival,  Feb. 20-22, 2015.

This weekend I’m heading to Southeast Colorado for the first time. Why am I heading into the vast and desolate plains you ask? Well, for one thing, this area isn’t desolate – far from it. While the human population may be small, the bird population in Southeast Colorado is large. During this time of year about 30,000 snow geese take a break from their migration to hangout in the area around Lamar, Colorado and birders flock to the area to celebrate the High Plains Snow Goose Festival.

13thanniversary snow goose festival pic

And now for a confession; while I love birds of all kinds, I have a lifelong obsession with geese. This prevalent bird simply fascinates me, much to the amusement of my husband, family and friends. I am captivated in the way they communicate, on the ground and in flight, and how they adapt to so many environments (this is especially true of Canadian geese, which have been common to every region in which I have lived).   Continue reading

Top 10 places to steal a kiss on Valentine’s Day in Colorado

Ryan and I travel all over the state, thanks to my job as Mayor of HeidiTown, and we’ve discovered some of the best places to steal a kiss on Valentine’s Day, or any other day, in Colorado.

Top 10 places to steal a kiss on Valentine's Day in Colorado. Dramatic Focal Point Photography

At Nordic Sleigh Rides in Breckenridge, Colorado. Photo by Travis Konkle, of Dramatic Focal Point Photography, www.dramaticfocalpoint.com

1. On the gondola in Telluride, Colorado. If you and your sweetie find yourselves all alone on the gondola, which happens frequently, the 15 trip between Mountain Village and the Town of Telluride can be a very romantic trip.

2. At Benson Sculpture Garden in Loveland, Colorado.  Stroll this Northern Colorado gem hand in hand, pausing occasionally to sneak kisses in the shadow of stunning bronze creations.

3. In a hot springs pool. We have so many wonderful hot spring destinations in Colorado. From Pagosa Springs to Ouray to Glenwood Springs to Steamboat Springs, each has its own unique ambiance.   Continue reading

My Big Date, a Valentine’s experience in Loveland, Colorado

My Big Date logoValentine’s Day is two weeks away and I’ve got the perfect outing for you and your honey – especially if you like beer and food.

Valentine’s Day in Loveland, My Big Date, lets participants experience Loveland, Colorado’s coffee, brewery, distillery and foodie scene. The Brewery & Spirits Tour package sold out quickly, and there are only seats left on our Brunch & Brew Tour. I am one of your My Big Date hosts and I guarantee that it’s like nothing else you have ever experienced.

You and your mate will board the NOCO Short Bus Tours bus at The Promenade Shops at Centerra in East Loveland. The bus will transport you to beautiful downtown Loveland where you will start your morning with a coffee tasting at Loco Artisan Coffeehouse. Owner, Tom Helm, is pairing three of his handcrafted, locally roasted coffees with a savory treat for our guests. Continue reading

Featured Festival: Loveland Fire & Ice Festival 2015

Loveland Fire & Ice Festival LogoThe “Sweetheart City” is whooping it up this Valentine’s Day weekend with a brand new festival.

Loveland Fire & Ice Festival is an extravaganza of lights, fire, ice and snow that will surely warm up your February.

For a handful of years, Loveland has hosted a sanctioned snow sculpting event; the winning team goes on to represent Colorado at the US National Snow Sculpting Competition. That sculpture competition is now part of Loveland Fire & Ice.

Snow Sculpture in the Dark 26. HeidiTown.com

This wooly mammoth, by Team Breck, was also a crowd favorite and 3rd place winner overall at Loveland Snow Sculpture 2013.

This year, in addition to the 10 snow sculpting teams from around the state, downtown Loveland will be alive with the sound of music, fireworks and laughter.

UPDATE: Due to unseasonably warm weather along Colorado’s Front Range, the snow sculpture part of this event has been cancelled and replaced with an ice sculpting contest. As of today (Feb. 10, 2015) six of the snow sculpting teams have signed on to carve ice instead of snow.

Music is a big part of the two-day event that kicks off at 3 p.m. on Friday, February 13 and runs late into the evening on Saturday. There will be three stages in downtown, with the Grimm Brothers Brewhouse Main Stage on 4th and Railroad. Musicians include everyone from a techno DJ to singer songwriters to a soul/funk band. There will even be a fire performer who will wow audiences with her fire art talents. The musicians will play throughout the festival, keeping downtown’s ambiance fun and energetic.

A fire performer at Telluride Fire Festival. Loveland Fire & Ice, Colorado. HeidiTown.com

Fire performing is becoming popular across Colorado. Here’s a performer at Telluride Fire Festival 2015.

Loveland-based business Blazen Illuminations is going to light up downtown’s buildings like Disneyland. The company is responsible for many amazing light displays around Colorado (and beyond), including the Denver City building’s holiday lights.

Blazen’s pyrotechnic team has some other exciting plans up their sleeve, including working with the bands to provide pyrotechnic effects during some of the musical performances.

Blazen Illuminations the denver city building. Loveland Fire & Ice Festival. HeidiTown.com

The Denver City building lit by Blazen Illuminations.

A fantastic fireworks and light show is scheduled to take place on both nights of the festival. This huge display will be set to music, so bring along the kiddos and get ready to be dazzled.

Be sure to pick up a Loveland Fire & Ice wristband available the clearly marked table inside the festival area. Wear your wristband to get specials at various retail outlets and restaurants on the weekend of the event.

Loveland Fire & Ice Festival  

Valentine’s Day Weekend 2015

February 13 from 3 to 10 p.m. & February 14 from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Downtown Loveland, Colorado (along 4th Street & Railroad Avenue)

Admission: FREE

Join Loveland Fire & Ice Festival on Facebook

Follow Loveland Fire & Ice Festival on Twitter @LovelandFireIce


I’ll see you there!


Featured Festival spots on HeidiTown.com are paid advertisements. Interested in having your festival or event considered for a feature? Email TheMayor@HeidiTown.com.

Featured Festival: Loveland Snow Sculpture in the Dark, 2014

I’ve been attending and writing about Snow Sculpture in the Dark since it’s conception in 2010. A grassroots event, it has grown into a sanction snow sculpting competition where the winners go on to represent the State of Colorado at the U.S. National Snow Sculpting Championships. It’s a pretty darn big deal, and the artists who participate take it very seriously.

Loveland Snow Sculpture in the Dark

This is as much a community event as it is for spectators. On February 10, local businesses will bring teams of individuals to downtown Loveland to stomp snow. This prepares the snow for sculpting. The sculptures are carved out of a single block of snow weighing roughly 10 to 30 tons.

HeidiTown snow stomping team at Loveland Snow Sculpture in the Dark 2013.

HeidiTown snow stomping team at Loveland Snow Sculpture in the Dark 2013

The artistic teams consist of up to 3 artists and they converge up on the 8′ x 8′ snow blocks on February 11. This year’s teams are coming from as far as Breckenridge, and as close as Loveland. Most have been working on their design for weeks and months prior to the start of the event. The materials and tools used to sculpt vary, but consist of hand tools such as shovels and hatchets. This is art that also qualifies as manual labor. Continue reading

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