Art comes in so many forms, but during Colorado’s winter it comes in the shape of snow and ice sculptures.
From the snow sculpture championships in Breckenridge that bring competitors from around the world to an evening bonfire in Berthoud to enjoy the warmth of an ice tower slowly melting away, Colorado’s winter provides an opportunity to enjoy a wonderland beyond the ski slopes. These spectacular winter events bring life to a cold, white canvas and the communities that host them.
Ice and snow sculpture events in Colorado
Berthoud SNOWFEST in Berthoud, Colorado
Traditionally, this event takes place on Berthoud’s Main Street, but this year’s event has not been announced.
In years past, visitors enjoyed vendor booths in Fickel Park, and kids learned how to carve using five-gallon snow blocks.
The snow sculpture competition includes a “people’s choice” voting and awards presentation on the last day. The latest information is on the event’s webpage.
When: January. Dates TBD.
Wintersköl in Aspen, Colorado
In 1951, this small town started an annual event as a “toast to winter.” Over the years, the four-day event has held mountain activities, concerts, a bonfire, and fireworks. Its free slogan button has become a visitor’s must-have souvenir.
Sculptures create winter-themed artwork from massive blocks of snow along Mill Street walking mall. There are story times and curling competitions. Visitors can enjoy “Soupskol,” a local tradition where restaurants create special soups that patrons vote on.
Enjoy interactive art and light displays nightly in town, a magical parade of lights descending the mountain, and a fireworks show and bonfire. You can find the full schedule of events on the Aspen Chamber webpage.
When: January 11-14, 2024
Ouray Ice Festival and Competition in Ouray, Colorado
Although this festival doesn’t actually feature ice sculptures, it’s hard not to be awed by the beauty of the ice climbing park where the festival is mainly held.
During the winter months, 250 water sprinklers within the Uncompahgre Gorge bring to life a one-mile span of man-made ice walls and watching a climber conquer these colossal frozen masterpieces is electrifying.
This festival transforms the small town of Ouray into an ice-climbing mecca, with people from all over the world visiting and competing. All proceeds go to support the operational costs for Ouray Ice Park.
When: January 18-21, 2024.
Breckenridge International Snow Sculpture Championships in Breckenridge, Colorado
Teams from around the world kick off the event as they start carving 12-foot tall, 20-ton blocks of snow into masterpieces. They spend five days (about 96 hours) using only hand tools to bring to life an outdoor art gallery in historic downtown Breckenridge. Each day during carving week, the 11 a.m. sculpting competition begins with the blast of a canon.
The event is free to attend. During the sculpture competition, visitors can discover more about teams. Visitors also can learn about the sculpting process and other exciting facts about the art. Don’t forget to cast your vote for the People’s Choice Award.
During view week, the pieces are illuminated for 10 minutes on the hour and the half hour, from 4:30 to 11 p.m.
Because of the event’s popularity, some activites require reservations. Sign up on the event’s webpage.
Transportation and parking: It’s easy to get around Breckenridge without a car. There is free parking on Airport Road with free shuttles via the Yellow Route on the Breck Free Ride Bus. There is additional free parking at the Colorado Mountain College parking lot off Airport Road on Saturday and Sunday.
Dogs are allowed, but not around the snow sculptures. Beware, there are large crowds and other loud displays that could frighten your dog. Breck Free Ride and Summit Stage buses are dog-friendly.
When: January 22-31, 2024.
Rio Frio Ice Fest in Alamosa, Colorado
Rio Frio centers around a 5K event, though visitors can check out the ice sculptures on Alamosa’s Main Street. The displays adhere to the year’s event theme — so look for some “penguin party” masterpieces. Ice carving demonstrations are at noon on Saturday, and you can hang out that evening for the “fire and ice bonfire” that is sure to melt the ice tower.
Visit their website for a full schedule of events, including “SoCo Ice Bowl” disc golf event, polar plunge and ice carousel.
When: January 26-28, 2024.
Steamboat Winter Carnival in Steamboat Spring, Colorado
The event highlights the Western heritage and the town’s winter sports tradition. There is fun for the whole family. If temperatures are cool enough, the event also features ice sculptures. But you might want to see them earlier on in the carnival as the statues have melted relatively quickly in years past. Learn more about the carnival.
When: February 7-11, 2024.
Cripple Creek Ice Festival in Cripple Creek, Colorado
The Cripple Creek Ice Festival returned in 2023 after taking a two-year break because of the pandemic and lack of event sponsors.
This festival’s theme inspires the artists’ ice sculptures they carve from 160-pound blocks while the public watches the transformation. There are interactive sculptures to climb, and some are made just for kids and sometimes include a slide or maze.
The event is free. Activities, vendors and carving competitions only take place on the weekends, including President’s Day, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
More information can be found on the town’s website.
When: February 17-25, 2024.