The Downtown Denver Grand Illumination (Nov. 25–Dec. 31, 2016) and Denver Parade of Lights (Dec. 2–3, 2016) truly kick 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's Zoo Lights (Dec. 4, 2016–Jan. 3, 2017) and Denver Botanic Gardens (Nov. 25, 2016–Jan. 1, 2017) keep the spirit alive with displays draped in millions of colorful lights during their Blossoms of Light and Trail of Lights events. Find something going on every weekend during the holiday season for Mile High Holidays.
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. 26–29, 2017
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. 19-22, 2017
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 February, features ski-jumping competitions, dog-sled pulls, cross-country obstacle races, a tubing party and a spectacular fireworks display. Feb. 8–12, 2017
Estes Park Winter Festival
From mac 'n cheese tastings to toboggan runs, Estes Park's Winter Festival truly has something for each member of the family. The event is held the same weekend as Rocky Mountain National Park's Winter Trails Day, which helps anyone interested get their start snowshoeing the area's snowy pathways. Jan. 14-15, 2017.
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 24–28, 2017), 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. 10–12, 18–19, 2017), artists deftly use chainsaws to carve clear creations along the town’s main street, while families frolic through an ice maze.