Fun is always just around the corner in Colorado, and that’s especially true each winter. While there are a plethora of snow sports to partake in, the state is also well-known for its top winter carnivals and festivals.
From January through March, there’s bound to be a festival in one of the state’s many historic downtowns each weekend. The nature and theme highly vary across the board – from family-friendly snow carnivals to a high-stakes skijoring competition down Main Street.
Best Winter Festivals in CO
Whether you’re in the mood for adventure, or you’re looking for something close to home, head up into the hills this winter and take part in one of Colorado’s epic winter fests. These are a few of the most unique, fun, and entertaining winter events Colorado has to offer, ordered by date.
1. Ouray Ice Festival | January 19-22, 2023
If ice climbing is your thing, there isn’t a better place to be than Ouray in January. Each year the tiny town, located about an hour from Telluride, attracts ice climbers and enthusiasts from all over the world for their Ouray Ice Festival.
During the 4 day event, climbers of all skill levels participate in clinics, workshops, and new gear demos. Plus, there are competitive events featuring the best ice climbers from around the world, which attract a sizeable audience each year.
2. Rio Frio Ice Fest | January 27-29, 2023
Lace-up your shoes and get ready to run a 5k on the frozen Rio Grande River! This iconic ice festival takes place annually in Alamosa and has all the makings of a great winter festival.
Kick off the weekend with a relaxing Luminara cross-country ski along a winding, candle-lit path. Pick your way across the frozen river for a 5k race the next morning, followed by a day of ice sculpture carving, a disc golf tournament, and a community bonfire. The final day brings your back to the ice for a polar plunge and some ice skating.
3. Snowdown in Durango | February 1-5, 2023
Each year, southwestern Colorado heats up a bit during the annual Snowdown in Durango. The festival begins each year at the beginning of February. One thing that makes the festival stand out is its unique theme which changes annually. Revelers dress up in costumes that reflect the theme to celebrate another year of Snowdown.
People pack into Durango’s historic downtown, especially during the parade and fireworks display. There’s a little something for everyone: the nightly parties are a blast, kids will enjoy fireworks and ice skating, and the chili cook-off will keep everyone’s stomachs happy.
4. Steamboat Winter Carnival | February 8-12, 2023
This is hands-down one of the oldest winter festivals in Colorado, and it’s great for snow sports enthusiasts. In 2023, the Steamboat Winter Carnival will officially be 110 years young, and there will be plenty of ways to celebrate. This February festival incorporates a variety of competitive events, including cross-country races, ski and snowboard competitions, and even foot races.
If you’re not in a competitive mood, there’s still plenty to do, including snowboarding and skiing, a fireworks display, and nightly entertainment. Plus it takes place in beautiful downtown Steamboat Springs.
5. WinterWonderGrass | March 3-5, 2023
Back and better than ever for its 10th anniversary in Colorado, the WinterWonderGrass festival in Steamboat Springs is a local favorite for live music, great skiing, and an overall electric vibe.
This music festival is held fully outdoors, aside from the giant heated beer halls where you can warm up and grab a drink. There will be a kid’s zone open daily for the little ones, and plenty of food vendors if you want to refuel. Event directors recommend festival-goers dress as they would for a day of skiing: lots of layers, extra socks, and no cotton.
6. Frozen Dead Guy Days in Estes Park | March 17-19, 2023
Frozen Dead Guy Days might be the most unique festival on this list. Why? Well, the festival is held in honor of a cryogenically frozen man, Bredo Morstel, whose family abandoned him in Nederland, a small town about 25 minutes west of Boulder. That’s why the festival seems like a winter carnival with a touch of Halloween.
Held over St. Patrick’s Day weekend this year, the festival features tons of “Dead Guy” events you won’t find anywhere else, like coffin races, a slow-motion parade, and decorated hearses. Plus, there are plenty of classic winter events like a polar plunge and skiing and snowboarding demonstrations. After over 20 years in Nederland, the event has moved to a new home in Estes Park.
Whether you jam out to live music in Steamboat, try your hand at skijoring, or just enjoy one of the many parades, Colorado’s winter festivals are sure to lighten your mood and make the long winter months a little more enjoyable.