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January

Featured Festival: Rio Frio Ice Fest in Alamosa, Colorado

Where can you watch a fire and ice bonfire, run a 5K on a frozen river, celebrate a 167-year-old mountain expedition, take a polar plunge and so much more? At the Rio Frio Ice Fest in Alamosa, Colorado in the beautiful San Luis Valley.

Featured Festival, Rio Frio Ice Fest & Rio Frio on Ice 5K race. HeidiTown.com

A lot of HeidiTown stories came from our 2016 trip to Rio Frio Ice Fest, and I guarantee if you attend, you’ll have more than a few stories to tell too.

And if you want an even better story, participate in this festival. This will not only provide you with stories, but also bragging rights. After all, how many people can say they’ve ran a 5K on a frozen river? Let alone on the famous Rio Grande River.

The Rio Frio Ice Fest kicks off on Friday, January 27 with a party at the Grover Theater. This year’s festival theme, Tropical Beach, will be alive and well at this fête and throughout the weekend.

Saturday is chockablock with events starting with the Rio Frio on Ice 5K at 9 a.m.

Register for the Rio Frio on Ice 5K here.

Rio Frio on Ice, 5K at the Rio Frio Ice Fest in Alamosa. HeidiTown.com

The Rio Frio on Ice was my first 5K (read about my entire experience here). I’ve been known to start a lot of things on ice. My first-ever climbing excursion was also on ice. And while the elevation kicked my butt (Alamosa is at 7,500 feet above sea level) I had a blast, and best of all, I did not come in last in my age category.

You don’t have to run during the entire length of the Rio Frio on Ice – I walked and jogged the course, but if I can finish this race, you can too.

Overall Winners of the 2016 Rio Frio on Ice 5K, Amy Carpenter and Enrique Salcedo. HeidiTown.com

Overall Winners of the 2016 Rio Frio on Ice 5K, Amy Carpenter and Enrique Salcedo.

After the 5K, it’s time to celebrate your accomplishment. Attendees can enjoy all sorts of activities in downtown Alamosa such as live ice sculpting, contests such as a kids’ costume event with a Tropical theme, an evening fire and ice bonfire and Grub n’ Pub, a ticketed dining and drinking tour of the town. Ryan and I loved Grub n’ Pub so much that I wrote about it.

Grub & Pub in Alamosa during Rio Frio Ice Fest. HeidiTown.com

Rio Frio Ice Fest doesn’t end on Saturday. Stick around on Sunday for the pancake breakfast, Fremont Parade, Polar Plunge and Fremont Haunt, a coffin race with a twist. The Fremont Expedition (1849) lost a lot of men along the Rio Grande River in the San Luis Valley as they tried to make their way back to New Mexico. The Fremont Haunt competition re-enacts a portion of these tribulations.

Fremont Haunt coffin race at the Rio Frio Ice Fest in Alamosa. HeidiTown.com

Fremont Haunt, 2016

Rio Frio Ice Fest represents an opportunity to explore Alamosa and the surrounding area. It also offers attendees the opportunity to experience first-hand what Alamosa has to offer. It’s a truly immersive event, and I think this is what makes it so great. You don’t just see Alamosa, you experience it to the fullest during Rio Frio Ice Fest.

Featured Festival Rio Frio Ice Fest, Fire & Ice Bonfire. HeidiTown.com

Fire & Ice Bonfire at Rio Frio Ice Fest.

Rio Frio Ice Festival

Alamosa, Colorado

January 27-29, 2017

Register for the Rio Frio on Ice 5K here.

RioFrioIce.com

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

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

TellurideFireFestival.org

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

GoBreck.com

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

LeadvilleTwinLakes.com

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.

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

Featured Festival: Telluride Fire Festival (Jan. 14-18, 2016)

This was the most unique winter festival we attended last year. It’s a spectacle of creativity and fire and must be experienced to be truly understood. And, the fact that it’s held in Telluride is a big bonus.

Part Burning Man, part community party, 2015 was the inaugural year of Telluride Fire Festival. The first thing we witnessed on our first night in town was El Pulpo Mecanico. I’ll admit, this fire breathing art car was one of the most amazing things I’ve witnessed in my nearly 40 years on this planet.

Featured Festival Telluride Fire Festival 2016 El Pulpo Mecanico

Photo courtesy of Telluride Fire Festival.

Telluride Fire Festival is broken into various piece. There are free events held in the Town of Telluride and in Mountain Village. There are also ticket events. Last year, March Fourth put on an outstanding ticketed show during Telluride Fire Festival.

There are also festival workshops. You can learn to weld or spin fire (yes, fire!). Some workshops have a fee while others are free. See a list of them here.

Dozens of artists come to town for this festival. From fire spinners to DJs to dance troupes, you won’t be able to toss a snowball without hitting an artist during Telluride Fire Festival. This is what makes it one of the most inspiration winter festivals in Colorado. See a list of participating artists here.

FractalTribePerformer#2ByRyanBonneau (1)

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

During the day you can participate in workshops or visit participating art galleries around Telluride, or you can ski or take a yoga class. That’s the beauty of Telluride, there’s a lot to do in this beautiful town.

Each night of fire festival there will be an event to warm you up including a dance party on Friday with Rob Garza, a Costume Fire Ball on Saturday and a fire-spinning party on Sunday.

A VIP event takes place Thursday evening and only those who purchase an All Access Pass will be allowed into this private reception.

An All Access Pass is just $195 (must be 21 or older to purchase). Purchase your pass here. Tickets to individual events are also available.

Telluride Fire Festival fire breathing dragon. HeidiTown.com

While some events are 21 and older, in general this is a festival for anyone who seeks to ignite a creative fire within their soul. I guarantee that something you see, hear or feel at Telluride Fire Festival will spark your imagination.

Telluride Fire Festival

January 14-18, 2016

Telluride, Colorado

Free & ticketed

TellurideFireFestival.org

Join Telluride Fire Festival on Facebook

Join Telluride Fire Festival on Twitter

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

Celebrate New Year’s Eve at a Colorado ski resort

Want to get high in Colorado this New Year’s Eve? It’s super easy and I’m not referring to a drug induced high. If you were to fly high above the Rocky Mountains on New Year’s Eve, you’d see an array of fireworks, from Steamboat Springs to Telluride the mountains would be covered in sparkling flashes of color.

 ©Arthur Balluff  Breckenridge Tourism Office

©Arthur Balluff Breckenridge Tourism Office

New Year’s Eve in  Breckenridge

Breckenridge, Colorado knows how to put on a party and New Year’s eve is no exception. Fireworks over Peak 9 start at 9 p.m., but prior to the show your kids are invited to take part in the Glow Worm Parade – it’s like a torchlight parade, except the kids are skiing on the greens with glow sticks instead of fire. Registration starts at 5 p.m. at the Beaver Run Ski & Snowboard School and the parade starts at 5:45 p.m. This is an experience your little ones won’t soon forget. Continue reading

Fall beer festivals in Colorado

Fall Back Beer Fest 2014. HeidiTown (1)The Great American Beer Festival may be over, but that doesn’t mean Coloradans stop celebrating craft beer. We celebrate all year long.

Here are a few fall beer festivals that are sure to tickle your taste buds.

Fall Back Beer Festival, Estes Park, October 31, 2015

FallBackBeerFest.com

Ryan and I attended this event last year and it was one of our favorite festivals of last year. Held at the new Estes Park Events Center & Pavilion, what sets this festival apart are the educational seminars and home brewing demonstrations.

This is a Sip & Learn type of beer festival and I highly approve of this type of format. Of course, you can just come and drink, but I’d encourage you to take advantage of the free seminars. Continue reading

Featured Festival: Estes Park Winter Festival (Jan. 16-19, 2015)

If you like to eat and drink as much as I do, then you need to attend the Estes Park Winter Festival. Gluttony is one of the seven deadly sins, but once a year I get gluttonous at this fest and I make no apologies for it.

Estes Park Winter Festival, Estes Park, Colorado

The event was cancelled last year because the Stanley Park Fairground was undergoing renovations, but this year it’s back and bigger than ever and will be held at the beautiful, brand new Estes Park Events Complex.

I’ve been attending this festival since year one and have watched it grow from a small, grassroots downtown chili cook-off and beer tasting event to a larger version of the same thing. Despite attracting big crowds every year, the organizers have been able to keep a laid back, hometown feel to the event, which I really enjoy.

Avery Beer at EPWF

The festivities start on Friday, January 16 with an Irish Gathering brought to you by the Rocky Mountain Irish Gathering. The band, The Commoners will perform as will bag piper Daniel Lowell and the McTeggart Irish Stepdancers. This evening of Irish fun runs from 7 to 10 p.m. and is $15 at the door.

On Saturday and Sunday festivalgoers will enjoy an event that I consider one of the top winter festivals in Colorado. Inside the events complex you’ll find more than 30 different beer and wine vendors offering samples, as well as loads of chili to taste (both green and red). Professionals and amateurs complete for various coveted Best Chili awards – and you get to vote.

When I say that I “eat my way through Estes Park Winter Festival” I am not exaggerating. You will taste some downright amazing, earth-shakingly good chilis at this event.

chili cook off pic Estes Park Winter Festival 2012 HeidiTown (2)

Estes Park Chili Festival. HeidiTown.com

“The spicier the better” – that’s my motto!

In addition to all the eating and drinking there’s a full lineup of entertainment at the fest including two Colorado bands,  White Water Ramble and Archie Funker. We heard White Water Ramble play at a beer festival this summer and they are not a favorite of ours.

There are vendors at the fest selling their wares, and in addition Rocky Mountain National Park will be there to share their expert knowledge on outdoor winter adventures, do equipment demos, offer winter safety tips and information about the park.

Stick around for giveaways that include an annual pass to RMNP, snow cat tours and more.

Your children are very welcome at this event. There’s an entire pavilion at the Estes Park Events Complex that will be dedicated just to kids. Lots of activities will be available from slapstick hockey to a snowboard simulator. Your kiddos will not get bored at the Estes Park Winter Festival.

A very happy kiddo at Estes Park Winter Festival 2012.

A very happy kiddo at Estes Park Winter Festival 2012.

If you decide to spend the holiday weekend in town why not stick around for Monday’s events. There are free, family friendly activities planned next to the ice skating rink located in downtown Estes Park from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Estes Park Winter Festival

Martin Luther King Day Weekend

January 16-19, 2015

Estes Park Events Complex at  1209 Manford Avenue

You’ll need to purchase tickets online for the festival events taking place on Saturday and Sunday. Go HERE to purchase tickets today!

Join Visit Estes Park on Facebook

On Twitter @VisitEstesPark

VisitEstesPark.com

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

Tweets from my Ullr Fest adventures in Breckenridge, Colorado

A fellow travel blogger once called me “a tweeting fool,” and she’s right. I love Twitter, and when I’m on a trip I tweet regularly. My twitter account is not hooked up to HeidiTown’s Facebook page, but it is hooked up to Instagram, Foursquare and Pinterest, so whenever I post a pic or check-in somewhere, a tweet informs my followers of my whereabouts.

I decided that it would be fun to share all my tweets, including any photos that were attached to the tweet, from my 3-night stay in Breckenridge, Colorado for Ullr Festival, since not every blog reader follows me on Twitter.

It’s an interesting and entertaining look at my travels, so without further ado, here’s the Mayor’s tweets from Breckenridge, Colorado during Ullr Festival 2014. I am not including my RTs or twitter interactions with other folks because this list is long enough as is!!!

Tweets from Breckenridge, January 9, 2014:

@HeidiTown:   Woohoo! #Breck or bust. 🙂 #ULLR #Colorado

@HeidiTown:   (Foursquare check-in) I’m at Eisenhower Tunnel (CO) [pic]: http://4sq.com/1aiP6Mh  

@HeidiTown:   It’s snow shining right now in #Frisco, #Colorado. That’s when it is #snowing & the sun is shining. #love

@HeidiTown: (Foursquare check-in) Big fan of their pizza! (@ Fatty’s Pizzeria) http://4sq.com/1a4dMHJ  

@HeidiTown:   (Instagram Pic) Happy Ullr Fest!!! #Colorado #ULLR #viking #snow #envythehorns #breckbecause

Heidi at Fatty's during Ullr Festival in Breckenridge, Colorado. HeidiTown.com

@HeidiTown: (Foursquare check-in) well this is very nice!!! @GrandTimberCo #Colorado #lodging #travel (@ Grand Timber Lodge – @grandtimberco) http://4sq.com/1a4LuwV  

Tweets from Breckenridge, January 10, 2014:

@HeidiTown:   (Instagram pic) We broke the #shotski record in #Breckenridge last night!!! #Colorado #Ullr #breckbecause

breaking the shotski record with Breckenridge Distillery at Ullr Festival in Breckenridge, Colorado. HeidiTown.com

Continue reading

Come party with Ullr & I in Breck

Yep, it’s that time of year again, Ullr Festival is almost here. This crazy event takes place for an entire week (January 5-11, 2014). We attended for the first time last year, when I was asked to be a judge of the Ullr Festival Parade. I’m judging again this year and I can’t wait.

Breckenridge Distillery at Ullr Festival 2013. HeidiTown.com (2)

Breckenridge Distillery representing at Ullr Festival 2013.

Ryan and I loved every minute of Ullr Festival and we made friends everywhere we went – in bars, in hot tubs and on the slopes. We bought Ullr a beer at The Gold Pan Saloon, and we got free beer for ourselves just by raise our hands at Downstairs at Eric’s.   Continue reading

Photos of the 2013 Ullr Festival Parade (Breckenridge, Colorado)

If you’ve been paying attention, by now you probably know that I was invited by GoBreck to judge the 50th Annual Ullr Festival parade last week in Breckenridge, Colorado.

After looking through our parade photos, taken mostly by my husband, Ryan, I just had to share a few of our favorites with you.

Here are photos from the Ullr Festival parade on Thursday, January 10, 2013:

kids in sleds at Ullr Parade HeidiTown 2013

If there had been a prize for “cutest float,” this would have won it.

fat guy on bike Ullr parade 2013 HeidiTown

This is a good time to tell you that it was COLD out! Really, really cold.

Guys riding keg skis Ullr Parade 2013 HeidiTown

The Ullr Festival parade is way more entertaining than your average 4th of July parade.

Heid Judging at Ullr Parade 2013 HeidiTown

It’s fun being a judge! My hands were cold, but my helmet was AWESOME!

Dancing viking woman Ullr Parade 2013 HeidiTown

This gal was having A LOT of fun!

Viking gals at Ullr parade 2013 HeidiTown

There are lots of viking women at Ullr Festival in very little clothing.

Grand Lodge float the 1000 dollar winner at Ullr parade 2013 Heiditown

This float by Grand Lodge took home first place & won $1000.

Snow Globe at Ullr Parade 2013 HeidiTown

The Good Times Adventures Snow Globe float was my favorite & they won 2nd place.

filled float Ullr parade 2013 Heiditown

Floats full of shiny, happy people.

not really a fire dancer cool shot at Ullr parade 2013 HeidiTown

One of my favorite photos from Ullr Festival parade.

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A huge thank you to GoBreck for asking me to participate in this wacky week of fun in Breckenridge, Colorado!!!

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