Four years ago, Ryan and I decided to go snowshoeing in Rocky Mountain National Park, and afterwards we stopped in Estes Park and stumbled into what has become one of our favorite winter festivals.
At that time the Estes Park Winter Festival was a small affair, a lot of local cooks serving up chili and just a few beer and wine vendors, but what fun we had. We tasted every chili under the tent and then, like kids, took pictures all around the ice castle in the park.
We’ve watched this event grow and grow, but the organizers have done a great job keeping it organized. Why is it a favorite? We love chili – who doesn’t? And we love beer. This event combines beer, wine and chili and new this year, mac ‘n’ cheese. Yes, in addition to the massively popular chili cook off that pits restaurant against restaurant and amateur cook against amateur cook, the event organizers have added a mac ‘n’ cheese cook off.
Not only do guests of the fest get to taste all the chili and mac ‘n’ cheese, they get to vote for their favorites. So put your New Year’s resolution on hold and go crazy!
Another great feature of Winter Festival is that it really is fun for all ages. There are activities for kids that include ice skating and an amazing interactive ice castle. Last year we attended Winter Fest with friends who have two little boys. The ice castle kept them entertained for hours. There’s even more fun for the kiddos this year including a toboggan run and an interactive snow globe.
4th Annual Estes Park Winter Festival
Location: Fairgrounds at Stanley Park
Date: January 18-21, 2013
Festivities get underway on Friday with the FREE Ceilidh Barn Dance that includes live music, a caller, dancing, a bar and more.
Saturday & Sunday enjoy the MAIN (ticketed) event from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Monday, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., it’s the Block Party across from Bond Park at the ice skating rink. There will be pony rides, a petting zoo, balloon artist and FREE ice skating. Monday is also a FREE day at Rocky Mountain National Park.
For the entire lineup of events & to buy tickets go to