Colorado's 12 Weirdest Festivals

There's a celebration for everything

Colorado loves its festivals. From tacos to bacon to chili, food is the inspiration for many of the state's most interesting celebrations.

So is beer, whiskey, and wine -- as well as costumes.

Here are the 12 most unusual and interesting festivals across Colorado.  

  • 01 of 12

    Ullr Fest in Breck

    Ullr Festival
    ••• Welcome to the Ullr Parade in Breck. Breckenridge

    Breck's Ullr Fest in January is one of the state's most unusual and popular festivals. Breckenridge has been celebrating this Viking-inspired party (named after the winter god of Norse mythology) for now more than 50 years, and it regularly draws more than 12,000 visitors. 

    Skiers and boarders wearing horned hats take to the snow and people fling frying pans competitively. The Ullr parade is one of the most creative you'll see. In the past, people have turned their floats into mini ski jumps or drifted down the street in a hot tub on wheels.

    Want more Ullr? Golden's UllrGrass Festival, also in January, brings live music to the foothills. 

  • 02 of 12

    Blue Ribbon Bacon Tour in Keystone

    Keystone Bacon Fest
    ••• Bacon, bacon and bacon at the annual Bacon Fest. Keystone Resorts

    An entire festival dedicated to bacon? Yes, please. Keystone pigs out every year for its annual bacon fest in June, when downtown is lined with bacon booths and samples. Try bacon everything, from cupcakes to donuts, and wash it down with beer and whiskey. Live music tops off the event, making it a great party that will leave you totally stuffed. 

  • 03 of 12

    Denver Taco Festival

    Taco festival
    ••• Tacos are the highlight at this Denver fest. Renee Comet/Getty Images

    Tacos alone aren't weird, but this festival is unique enough to get a lot of attention, Denver's Taco Festival is centered around (not surprisingly) the city's top street tacos. In the past, it also included Lucha Libra wrestling, "daredevil" Chihuahua racing and live game shows that the public can participate in. 

    Fittingly, you can wash down your tacos with tequila -- pick from more than 40 different types. This summertime fest is inexpensive, boasting cheap tacos and free live music, and it even raises money for a good cause. 

  • 04 of 12

    The Giant Pumpkin Festival, Old Colorado City

    Giant Pumpkin Festival
    ••• A giant pumpkin being weighed in 2014. Old Colorado City

    Charlie Brown would dig this one. Old Colorado ​City features some of the state's biggest pumpkins at this annual fall event. The Giant Pumpkin Festival and Scarecrow Days means you'll see tons of scarecrows lining the streets. Celebrate the "weigh-off" to determine whose pumpkin is biggest.

    Not surprisingly, this festival is in October.

    Feeling a little naughty? Sick of pumpkin everything? Head to Idaho Springs the next month for the free Pumpkin Smash Festival. Hit, launch and ​smush up your old pumpkins and then learn how to compost them, instead of tossing them in the trash.

    Continue to 5 of 12 below.
  • 05 of 12

    High-Altitude BBQ in Leadville

    ••• A look at the Leadville BBQ festival.

    www.leadvillebbq.com

     

    Leadville's barbecue and brew fest in and of itself isn't that wild. But what makes it stand out is the altitude. Leadville claims this the world's highest-altitude BBQ party, at 10,152 feet above sea level. 

    The Leadville BBQ and Brew Festival every summer features live music, pit pros, microbrews, a car show and carnival. Even a kids' cook-off. Warning: Beer consumed this high in the sky may hit you hard, so hydrate extra. 

  • 06 of 12

    Lantern Fest

    Lantern Festival
    ••• At the Lanternfest, hundreds of people set off floating lanterns like in this photo. Getty Images/Sayan Chuenudomsavad

    The Lantern Fest in Colorado Springs in the fall must be the state's most beautiful festival. Imagine thousands of people gathered together with biodegradable lanterns. They light them off and they ​take flight into the sky, like hundreds of glowing stars. 

    These kinds of lanterns are a symbol of good fortune and hope. 

    The festival also includes music, dancing, S'mores and food vendors. You can also experience a Lanternfest in Denver.  

  • 07 of 12

    Festivus for the Rest of Us

    Festivus
    ••• Bring your ugly sweaters out for Festivus. RyanJLane/Getty Images

    Thanks, Seinfeld. Colorado celebrates Festivus every December, too.

    Is the Denver Beer Festivus basically another excuse to drink craft beer? Absolutely. But it's also a quirky, fun event. Visit Rare Beer Row, which highlights especially rare beer offerings (such as a beer and coffee fusion).

    Many participants show up in their tackiest holiday attire. It's like a major ugly Christmas sweater party, made more tolerable by craft brew.

    Then save your ugly sweater for December's Ugly Sweater Run in Denver. 

  • 08 of 12

    Frozen Dead Guy Days in Ned

    No fest is quite as unusual as Nederland's early springtime Frozen Dead Guy Days, named after a former resident who died and wanted to be frozen and brought back to life. Activities include a casket race, a polar plunge in the chilly reservoir, a frozen salmon toss, turkey bowling and frozen T-shirt contests.

    Continue to 9 of 12 below.
  • 09 of 12

    Great Fruitcake Toss

    Fruitcake
    ••• Wondering what to do with your leftover fruitcake?. Anouk Stricher/Getty Images

    Admit it. You don't like fruitcake. The town of Manitou Springs has found a use for this unloved holiday staple. The Great Fruitcake Toss comes at the end of January, just after the holidays when you start to wonder what to do with the old fruitcakes you never ate (all of them). 

    As the name implies, this is a gathering of locals who have a fruitcake-throwing contest -- for more than 20 years now. There's also a fruitcake bake-off, as folks try to find a way to make the fruitcake tolerable. 

    The Great Fruitcake Toss includes a costume contest. Because why not?

  • 10 of 12

    Goose-watching fest

    Snow geese
    ••• Lamar celebrates snow geese each February. David Schultz Photography/Getty Images

    Every spring, the skies in southeastern Colorado are filled with a rush of white snow geese. Their migration is the reason for this celebration every February in Lamar. 

    Bird-watchers and bird-lovers gather for the High Plains Snow Goose Festival to watch birds, take tours, learn about the geese and listen to special speakers. Participants can show off their artistic eye at the goose photo contest, too.

  • 11 of 12

    Animeland Wasabi

    Anime fans get together every March near Denver to celebrate their love of graphic novels and Japanese animation.

    The convention, Animeland Wasabi Classic, is a three-day gathering that includes dance parties, photo shoots, film screenings, art, vendors, food, game tournaments and more.

    Pokemon, anyone? 

  • 12 of 12

    Snowboarding in Denver

    This isn't your ordinary snowboarding event. First, it's in downtown Denver, not on the ski slopes. 

    Snowboard on the Block, in October, kicks off the boarding season. It features the top, new snowboarding films, live music and a rail jam right in the streets. Pros to fans gather together for gear sales, a mini ramp, competitions and more, all on 25 tons of real snow. See more at the Block Festival Facebook page. 

It seems there's a festival in Colorado every weekend -- and always a new and unusual reason to celebrate.