Updated: January 10, 2024
In 2019, we attended the 41st Snowdown, Durango, Colorado’s winter festival. To write that we had fun is an understatement. We lived it up from Human Foosball at Animas Brewing Co. to slopeside shenanigans at Purgatory Resort.
The 45th Snowdown runs from January 26 through February 4, and here’s why you should go.
Embrace the Theme
This year, the festival theme is Peace, Love & Snowdown and you can bet bell bottoms and beads will come out of closets across Colorado’s Southwest. When we went in 2019, the theme was Comic-Con Showdown, meaning we saw everything from superhero costumes to tails on outfits of every kind.
The theme will be everywhere, from the parade on Friday night to the Canine Fashion Show on Saturday. Festival goers really get into themes and you can see all the event posters, which advertise the theme, at Oscar’s Cafe, a must-stop for a green chile smothered breakfast.
This is a festival that’s first and foremost of locals and they come out in droves, from college students to people celebrating their 40th Snowdown. It’s time to shake off the effects of cabin fever and party hardy. Believe me when I write that everyone gets into the party game.
One of the most popular events at Snowdown are the Follies. Think skit theater, written by about local topics and people and starring Durangoans. The show embraces local lore and legend, but it’s not hard for an outsider, especially a Coloradan, to get the jokes. The adult Follies are held on Friday night and are adult-oriented fun. There are kids and teens Follies too.
One cannot go to Durango without eating delicious food, much of it smothered in green chile. We’ve been going to this Southwest town for years and El Moro Tavern has become a favorite stop. However, on the last visit, we discovered 11th Street Station. This food truck collective at Ernie’s Bar offers up all sorts of good eats.
We dined on pho and the pork belly sliders from Backcountry Gourmet. This food was better than tasty and came with a side of Snowdown shenanigans at Ernie’s Bar. A bonus!
By the way, want to taste all the green chile and red chili Durango has to offer? Hit the Snowdown Chili Cook-off and Bloody Mary Contest on Saturday of the festival at La Plata County Fairgrounds. You’ll need a Bloody Mary or three by this point in Snowdown.
Skiing & Balloons
Southwest Colorado has had a good winter. The snow hasn’t stopped falling and that means terrific skiing at Purgatory, Durango’s ski resort. This ski area offers a relaxed atmosphere that’s authentically Durango and I dig it. Opening ceremonies for Snowdown take place here.
The hot air balloon ascension on the mornings of Saturday and Sunday is the prettiest I’ve witnessed. You can even take the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad to the ascension or be like me and get photos of balloons and the train. Either way, this is a beautiful spectacle that’s part of the reason you should be at Snowdown.
By the way, something is always happening during Snowdown. See the crazy schedule of 2022 events here.