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, Jan. 11-14, 2023, in Berthoud, Colorado
The details of this event, which takes place on Berthoud’s Main Street, haven’t been announced yet.
In years past, visitors enjoy vendor booths in Fickel Park, and kids learn 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.
Wintersköl in Aspen, Jan. 12-15, 2023, in Aspen, Colorado
In 1951, this small town started an annual event as a “toast to winter.” Over the years, the four-day event held mountain activities, concerts, a bonfire and fireworks. Its free slogan button has become a visitor’s must-have souvenir.
Sculptures will create winter-themed artwork from massive blocks of snow along Mill Street walking mall.
On Jan. 13, enjoy “Soupskol,” a local tradition where restaurants create special soups that patrons vote on.
Other activities include a “virtual” Fat Bike race at the Aspen Nordic Center, and interactive art and light displays nightly in town, a magical parade of lights descending the mountain and a firework show. You can find the full schedule of events on the Aspen Chamber webpage.
Ouray Ice Festival and Competition, Jan. 19-22, 2023, 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.
Breckenridge International Snow sculpture championships, Jan. 23 – Feb. 1, 2023, in Breckenridge, Colorado
Teams from around the world get to work starting Jan. 23, 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, and viewing week starts Jan. 27 and runs through 7 p.m. on Feb. 1. During that time, 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 half hour, from 4:30 to 11 p.m.
Entry reservations are required for the sculpture viewing on Saturday, Jan. 28, because of the event’s popularity. 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.
Rio Frio Ice Fest, Jan. 27-29, 2023 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 “under the sea” work in 2022. Ice carving demonstrations are at noon, Jan. 28, 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, costume contest, polar plunge and ice carousel.
Steamboat winter carnival, Feb. 8-12, 2023, 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.
Cripple Creek Ice Festival, Feb. 18-26, 2023, Cripple Creek, Colorado
The Cripple Creek Ice Festival returns 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 that sometimes include a slide or maze.
Planning is still underway, but more information can be found on the town’s website.