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Santa Claus is Coming to Town: 3 Santa Festivals in Colorado

‘Tis the season for holiday-themed festivals and while craft shows and Christmas parades abound, here are a few unique events where you get to join in the fun.

Santa Claus is Coming to Town 3 Santa Festivals in Colorado Photo credit Crested Butte Mountain Resort Santa Ski Crawl

Photo Credit: Crested Butte Mountain Resort

Crowds of Santas Spotted in Breckenridge and Crested Butte, Colorado

There’s something particularly amusing about being surrounded by hundreds of Santas; boy Santas, girl Santas, tall Santas, short Santas, fat Santas, skinny Santas, pantless Santas (it happens). Here are two Colorado mountain festivals for folks who love Santa Claus and who like dressing up like the fat old fellow.

Race of the Santas, Breckenridge, Colorado

December 2, 2017

I’ve attended this event and can personally give it two white-gloved thumbs up. Race of the Santas is part of the Lighting of Breckenridge, a beautiful weekend tradition that involves the conversion of Breckenridge from a charming Victorian town to a charming Victorian town covered in holiday lights. 

Race of the Santas, Breckenridge

Photo courtesy of the Breckenridge Tourism Office

The Race of the Santas is seven blocks (0.75 miles) and contestants must dress like Santa. Some Santas who enter this race are serious runners while others, the Santa’s with a flask tucked into their black boot, are just there to have a good time.

You must register for this race by Friday, December 1, 2017. The race takes place on Saturday, December 2 at 4:30 p.m. Santa suits are for sale at the Breckenridge Welcome Center and Vertical Runner, a local running store. Contestants may also wear their own Santa costume.

Santa Claus is Coming to Town 3 Santa Festivals in Colorado Photo Credit Carl_Scofield_2015_Lighting_Santa-1

Photo Credit: Carl Scofield

Click here for more information on the Lighting of Breckenridge and Race of the Santas. If you’ve never visited Breckenridge during the holidays, it’s truly magical.

Santa Ski Crawl, Crested Butte, Colorado

December 9, 2017

Be part of history in Crested Butte this December and help break the World Record for the most skiing Santas at Crested Butte Mountain Resort. You can ski, snowboard or snowblade, but you must be dressed as Santa. This fifth annual event will attempt to break the record they set in 2015 which was 827 skiing Santas. Will YOU be number 828?

Santa Claus is Coming to Town 3 Santa Festivals in Colorado Photo Credit Crested Butte Mountain Resort

Photo Credit: Crested Butte Mountain Resort

In addition to the event, this is a festive weekend to be in Crested Butte. There’s a Santa Pub Crawl for drinker Santas as well as $25 lift tickets for skier and riders decked out in full Santa suits (valid 12/9/17 only).

This is also the weekend of Crested Butte Mountain Resort’s Light up the Night and annual Christmas Tree lighting, so it’s a good time to be in town. Register for the race here.

Santa Stampede, Littleton, Colorado

December 16, 2017

Okay, so this is less of a fest and more of a race, but I thought I’d throw it on this list for good measure.

Santa Claus is Coming to Town 3 Santa Festivals in Colorado Photo credit Colorado Runner Events, Santa Stampede

Tim Hancock, Photographer | Colorado Runner Events, Santa Stampede

This 5K and 10K winds along the banks of the South Platte River in Littleton, Colorado, just southwest of Denver. The entire family is encouraged to join in this Colorado Runner Events race. All runners get a Santa hat with registration, but participants are encouraged to dress up as well.

The race’s start and finish grounds are located at Hudson Gardens and will feature more than 20 vendors. There will be a festive, holiday atmosphere. To register for this family-friendly fun run go here.

While most Friday festival posts are sponsored, this is not a sponsored post.

How to Avoid I70 Ski Traffic this Winter in Colorado

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.

Colorado is Open, photo courtesy of Colorado Ski Country USA

Photo courtesy of Colorado Ski Country USA

Train

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

A Day in Ski School at Breckenridge Resort

Photo courtesy Breckenridge Resort. Downhill skier in powder.

I have a red & white ski coat, but this is NOT ME. (Photo courtesy of Breckenridge Resort)

An embarrassing truth is going to be revealed in this post – I’m a novice downhill skier, and by novice I mean that I’ve been downhill skiing twice in my life.

At my first lesson, I was stuck with a bunch of daring teenagers who begged the instructor to take them straight to the big hill and I trailed along in mortal fear. By the end of that lesson I did manage to ski a few greens, but I learned the rather painful lesson that one, I am not a natural born skier and two, I can’t seem to get off a chairlift without falling flat on my face.

Fast forward a number of years, and I had the opportunity to attend Ski & Ride School at Breckenridge Resort this past January. This ski school experience was very different from my first introduction to skiing. First of all, I’ve been cross country skiing for the past three years, so I’m more comfortable wearing skis. Second, everyone else in my class, with the exception of a gal from Boston, had never  been on a pair of skis before.

Looking like a dork at Breckenridge Ski & Ride School. HeidiTown.com

Looking less than cool at ski school. I know I'm not supposed to wear anything under the helmet, but we were on the bunny hill & my ears were cold!

The class was made up of sweet, friendly and slightly terrified Texan girls. They all looked the part, having splurged on fashionable ski gear for the occasion, but several of them were suffering from altitude sickness. Honestly – their fear gave me comfort. I passed out Tylenol from the stash in my pocket and felt pretty good about not being the newbie in ski school. Note: Tylenol helps alleviate some of the symptoms of altitude sickness, but you should also drink plenty of water. Get more tips here.

Our instructor was Darrin Hart, a guy with an Australian accent and matching chill attitude. As a true beginners class we first learned about our boots and skis, and then practiced clipping in and out of our skis, which is a lot harder than it sounds if you’ve never done it before.

We walked to the top of the first bunny hill and stood alongside kids that barely came up to my knees. If they can do it, I can, I thought as I snapped my boots into my skis and took a deep breath of thin air.

After learning a few basic mountain rules and skills, we learned the mechanics of the snow plow and then, one by one, we slid down the bunny hill, legs awkwardly splayed, applying the use of muscles we didn’t know we had. Within minutes, a Texan was down, but being fairly athletic she was back up in no time.

Halfway through the morning we “graduated” to the larger bunny hill which required a short ride on a J-bar ski lift – the kind you put between your legs and hold on as it slides you up the hill. It turns out the J-bar was a challenge for many of my ski school buddies as one after another went down on her way up.

ski school at Breckenridge Resort. HeidiTown.com

The red & white coat. That's me in Ski School. My nice husband took this photo from the chairlift as he was heading up to ski the real mountain.

After a few runs down the larger hill, even making our way into real ski traffic once or twice, we were dismissed for an hour lunch. My husband, Ryan, had been out skiing real mountains all morning where he’d ran into a friend. They were drinking beers when I showed up in very good spirits.

“I think I’m turning into a real skier,” I announced.

This was, perhaps, a bit of an exaggeration coming from someone who’d been snow plowing down the bunny hill all morning.

Awesome downhill skier at Breckenridge Resort. Courtesy photo.

This is what a "real skier" looks like. Photo courtesy of Breckenridge Resort.

After a lunch of hot and delicious green chili at The Maggie, I joined back up with the other students. The afternoon was going to involve some real mountain skiing on Peak 9, which meant I was going to have to ride a chairlift. My previously high spirits began to dissipate.

Fact: I’ve never fallen while skiing, but I’ve never gotten off a ski lift without falling. This day was no exception.

This is no mark against my ski instructor, Darrin. He gave us very good advice about holding our ski poles in one hand and pushing off with the other hand. His wise words worked for the four other gals on our chairlift, but not me and down I went. Fortunately, I’m skilled at ducking and waiting for the chairlift operator to pull me up and plop me down unceremoniously, but upright on my skis. I rejoined my class, who were watching with no trace of amusement. After all, they’d all spent time on the ground that day, just not in front of so many people.

Peak 7 now open at Breckenridge Resort. Courtesy photo.

Peak 7 is now open. Photo courtesy of Breckenridge Resort.

The other skiers and snowboarders gave us a wide berth as we trailed down the mountain following our patient and faithful leader, Darrin. Back and forth we went, and occasionally I gained more speed than I felt was appropriate and I snow plowed the heck out of the hill.

I didn’t have time to do a second big run with the rest of the class because I had to head back to my condo to get ready for the Ullr Festival Parade, but I’m not sure my muscles could have handled it. After a day of snow plowing bunny hills, my legs felt like cement and my ski boots felt like torture devices.

Despite the chairlift incident, I felt pretty good about my day at the Breckenridge Resort Ski School. Darrin was a supportive instructor who made us feel confident before moving to the next level. I’m definitely not a real skier yet, but I did manage to make it down the mountain in one piece. Now, if only I could conquer that dang chairlift. I plan to take on that challenge on my next ski adventure.

While sitting in the hot tub back at our condo that evening, we were regaled with a story from a young couple who spent three hours getting down the mountain earlier that day. He thought he could teach her to snowboard, but he was wrong. Take it from me, if you are a newbie skier or snowboarder, a lesson is the way to go. It might even save your relationship.  

To learn more about Breckenridge Ski & Ride School click HERE.

To learn more about all the fun Breckenridge has to offer year-round go to GoBreck.com.

****

I’d like to send out a big thank you to Darrin and Kristen at Breckenridge Resort and Rachel, Jessie and the rest of the team at GoBreck.com. It’s the people who make or break a ski town and you all do an awesome job at making Breckenridge, Colorado an extra special place to visit!    

Featured Festival: Grand Park Dog Days of Winter (Feb. 16-17, 2013 in Winter Park, CO)

 

sled dogI’ve been a fan of dog sled racing since I was just a little girl. Growing up in the far northern reaches of Washington State – let’s face it, it was practically Canada – there were quite a few Alaska connections around my community. This meant that throughout my childhood I had roundabout connections to the Iditerod, and therefore I never missed the race on television.

Since moving to Colorado in 2000, it’s been on my bucket list to make it to one of the many sled dog festivals that are held in the Rocky Mountains. This February I finally get my chance, not only to fulfill my childhood dream of riding in a dog sled with Dog Sled Rides of Winter Park, but also to witnesses sanctioned sled dog races.

I’ll be attending the Grand Park Dog Days of Winter over Presidents Day weekend in Grand Park, Colorado, just outside of Winter Park.

This is a two-day event, sanctioned by the International Sled Dog Racing Association. Races will offer slots for sled teams of four, six and eight dogs, a three-dog junior division and one and two-dog skijoring, where the mushers, wearing cross-country skis, are pulled by their dogs.

A skijoring clinic will be held on Saturday, Feb. 16 at 1:30 p.m. and people are encouraged to bring their dogs and give it a try. Harnesses and gear will be provided, but you need skis and a willing dog. In addition to the races there will be vendors and other entertainment at the race site.

In addition to the spectacle of the dog sled races, the area will be bustling with activity over Presidents Day Weekend. On Saturday night, visitors can experience Winter Park Comedy Night at Winter Park Resort. Learn more about winterparkcomedynight.com.

Grand Park Dog Days of Winter

Grand Park, Colorado

(between Winter Park & Fraser)

Feb. 16-17, 2013

www.playwinterpark.com/dogdaysofwinter

 

Official event poster (click to enlarge):

Grand Park Dog Days of Winter 2013 poster

HeidiTown on the Radio – Colorado winter carnivals & winter sports to try this season

Ryan Ziplining HeidiTown 2013

Ziplining at Top of the Rockies Ziplines, near Leadville, Colorado. Photo by H.M. Kerr-Schlaefer.

It’s time for another HeidiTown segment on KRFC 88.9 FM.

As a reminder, I’ve decided to cut down on these radio shows because I create entirely new content for each segment and it’s too much  to keep up with on a weekly basis. So, the HeidiTown show can be heard now twice a month on the radio.

This week’s show includes a preview of a couple upcoming winter carnivals and a look at some Colorado winter sports you should try out this season. Some of these “sports” require little more than sitting down and hanging on, as you can see by this photo.

So sit back and buckle up and take a listen to this week’s radio show HERE.

HeidiTown on the Radio – Colorado winter festivals not to miss this February

This week’s radio segment is a little embarrassing. My voice is so husky that I sound like my other job might be at one of those late night phone chat establishments. The truth is that last week I was knocked on my butt with a terrible head cold/flu thing that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy.

sled dogs winter park

Photo from PlayWinterPark.com. Click the picture for more information on Grand Dog Days in Winter Park in February.

Anyway, I’m just about back to normal, whatever normal is, and you should totally listen to this week’s radio show. Not only to laugh at my sex-phone voice, but to learn about new dinner theater productions in the works and some Colorado winter festivals this February that should definitely be on your radar.

To hear this week’s HeidiTown segment on KRFC 88.9 FM >>>  CLICK HERE.

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.

***

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

HeidiTown on the Radio – Ullr, Estes & Stock Show, oh my

ice rink at Estes Park Winter Festival

Ice rink at the Estes Park Winter Festival in 2012. This year's event is Jan. 18-21, 2013.

After a week off, it’s time for another installment of the Mayor on KRFC 88.9 FM, community public radio in Fort Collins, Colorado.

Starting in February, these shows will occur on the 1st and 3rd week of each month. Life is just getting too crazy to do a show each and every week.

Remember, if you’d like to catch the show on the radio, I’m on at 5:55 p.m. on Wednesdays, immediately before Bikes & Beer and on Fridays at 5 p.m.

On this week’s segment I talk about what I’m up to this week – it’s ULLR FESTIVAL – and preview one of my favorite winter festivals in Colorado.

LISTEN HERE.

 

Top 10 Memories from the Mayor of HeidiTown, Colorado for 2012

It has been an AMAZING year here in HeidiTown…

and 2013 is going to be even better.

I have so many great memories from this past year, like emceeing a freezing/cold/snowy  Berthoud Oktoberfest, attending the Great American Beer Festival for the first time and speaking multiple times at Metropolitan State University. There were some real standout moments however, so without further ado, here are my Top 10 Memories from the Mayor of HeidiTown, Colorado for 2012 (in pictures):

March – MyHandleBar HeidiTown ride in Fort Collins, Colorado

 My Handle Bar Ride March 2012 HeidiTown.com

May – The HeidiTown banners are revealed

 HeidiTown Banners May 2012

June – Champagne in the gondola & dining at the top of Keystone Resort during TBEX

 Champagne on the gondola in Keystone for TBEX June 2012 HeidiTown.com

June – Being a judge at the kick-off of Loveland Loves BBQ , Bands & Brews

 Haivng a laugh with Lauren Hoff at kick off for Loveland Loves BBQ Brews & Bands June 2012 HeidiTown.com

July – Gorging ourselves on food cart delights & wine at Unwined Denver

 Cupcakes from Denver Cupcake Truck at Unwined Denver 2012

July – Enjoying a really big pretzel and German dancing with my main squeeze at the Biergarten Festival

 Biergarten festival big pretzel July 2012 HeidiTown.com

August – My first hot air balloon ride at Sweetheart Balloon Rally in Loveland

 Sweetheart Balloon Rally August 2012 HeidiTown.com

August – Ziplining at Copper Mountain & riding the chairlift with beers

 zip lining at Copper Mountain HeidiTown August 2012

October – Staying at  One Steamboat Place for the Governor’s Tourism Conference in Steamboat Springs (via Moving Mountains Chalet)

One Steamboat Place Diamond Peak

December – Laughing our butts off at the Cripple Creek Jail Museum & winning on Elvis at The Rush Casino

 The Rush Casino Cripple Creek December 2012 HeidiTown.com

   Thank you to everyone who has helped make this year so special & now? Bring on 2013!

P.S. A special thank you to my husband, Ryan, the person I most enjoy taking adventures with – now and always!

Featured Festival: 50th Annual Ullr Festival (Breckenridge, Colorado)

Ullr Fest in Breckenridge Colorado by Carl Scofield

Ullr Fest in Breckenridge, Colorado. Photo by Carl Scofield. Provided by GoBreck.com.

Party like a viking with me in Breckenridge, Colorado!

For half a century the people of Breckenridge have been donning horns and participating in a huge party inspired by Ullr, the Norse God of Winter. In Europe, Ullr is the Guardian of Skiers, and the gods know I will need him during my skiing adventure in Breckenridge this season.

Originally developed as a party for the people of Breckenridge, Ullr Festival has expanded over the years, although it is still a homegrown event. The party got started in 1963, and today it is a week long festival with all kinds of wacky traditions.

I will be attending Ullr Festival this year and I’m looking forward to a crazy party.

The 50th Ullr Festival runs January 6-12, 2013, and the schedule from GoBreck is as follows:

Sunday, Jan. 6 – Crowning of the Ullr King & Queen (6-9pm)
Toast to 50 years of fun with free beer and live music by The Luv Brothers. New location for 2013 – Breckenridge Riverwalk Center, 150 W. Adams Ave. FREE

Monday, Jan. 7 – Family Night  new (3:30 – 5:30pm)
Bring the kids for Nordic skiing, snowshoeing, ice skating, indoor activities and a family-friendly bonfire at the Gold Run Nordic Center on Tiger Road. FREE

Tuesday, Jan. 8 – Ullympics (6 – 8pm)  

Partake in wild events such as the frying pan toss, group ski racing and ski boot relay. FREE

Mayor’s note: I can’t WAIT for this evening!

Wednesday, Jan. 9 – Ullr Dating Game

Join local radio station KSMT and all the singles in town for Breckenridge’s 21+ version of the Dating Game at  Cecilias. To apply to be a bachelor/bachelorette, call KSMT at 970-453-2234 ext. 20. FREE

Thursday, Jan. 10 – Ullr Fest parade and town bonfire  (Parade starts at 4:30pm, Bonfire 5-7pm, and Fireworks at 7pm)

The centerpiece of the week, the Ullr Fest parade showcases Breckenridge’s style of wild winter fun – past floats have included dogsled teams, hot tubs, a ski jump and more. A town bonfire and fireworks follow the parade. FREE

Mayor’s note: I’m either going to help judge the parade or I may actually ride on a float. I better pick up a pair of great Viking horns, pronto!  

Friday, Jan. 11 – Comedy night:

Comedy Works comics descend on Breckenridge for a night of big laughs at  Beaver Run Resort.

Saturday, Jan. 12 – Ullr Fashion Show: Close out the week with a Viking-themed costume contest at the Park Avenue Pub.

To keep tabs on all the fun stuff happening in Breckenridge during the winter or any other time of year, go to GoBreck.com.

UPDATE:

12/30/12

The first glimpse of what I’ll be sporting at Ullr Festival this year.

Ullr helmet heiditown 2013

Photo via HeidiTown on Instagram

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