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Denver Lights

The Parade of Lights (Dec. TBD, 2014) truly kicks off the Denver area’s holiday festivities. Giant balloons, floats, marching bands and dance troops wind along a two-mile route that passes by the spectacularly lit Denver City and County Building. The Denver Zoo (Dec.–Jan. TBD) and Denver Botanic Gardens (Nov.–Jan TBD) keep the spirit alive with displays draped in millions of colorful lights during their Blossoms of Light and Trail of Lights events.

Manitou Springs Fruitcake Toss

One of Colorado’s quirkiest post-Christmas traditions allows residents to purge their homes of the dreaded holiday fruitcake. Manitou Springs' Fruitcake Toss contestants compete for titles in the categories of distance and accuracy, as well as other cake-related challenges. The only rule is that the participants must hate fruitcake. Jan. TBD, 2015

Ouray Ice Festival

Ouray embraces the ice in a different fashion than most — by climbing it. Each January, the Ice-Climbing Capital of the World becomes a hub of international competition, with the best climbers in the world scaling its famous frozen-in-time waterfalls while spectators watch in awe. Those brave enough to try can strap on some crampons and a harness at one of the festival’s beginner clinics. Jan. 8–11, 2015

Ice-Sculpting Festivals

Though they don’t linger too long during Colorado’s sunny winter months, frozen masterpieces created by gifted ice artisans leave a lasting impression. At the Budweiser International Snow Sculpting Championship in Breckenridge each January (Jan. 27–Feb. 8, 2015), teams from around the world spend a week gently coaxing intricate sculptures out of 20-ton blocks of snow. And at the Cripple Creek Ice Festival (Feb. TBD, 2015), artists deftly use chainsaws to carve clear creations along the town’s main street, while families frolic through an ice maze.

Winter X Games

For an unprecedented 12 straight years, Buttermilk Mountain in Aspen has been the home of ESPN’s Winter X Games in January, where admired athletes such as Olympians Shaun White, Hannah Teter, local Gretchen Bleiler and many more have elicited gasps from the crowds with their acrobatic antics and big air. Jan. 22–25, 2015

Steamboat Springs Winter Carnival

Steamboat Springs residents have been reveling in the town’s annual bounty of trademark Champagne Powder since 1914. The five-day Steamboat Springs Winter Carnival, held each January, features ski-jumping competitions, dog-sled pulls, cross-country obstacle races, a tubing party and a spectacular fireworks display. Feb. 4–8, 2015

For even more winter events and celebrations, visit COLORADO.com/events.

Denver's City & County Building is lit up for the holiday season