Chilly temperatures don't stop the party at winter celebrations throughout Colorado. Visitors and locals alike play outdoors, enjoy cold-weather sports and otherwise mark the season at these annual February events, many of which are free:
Steamboat Springs Winter Carnival
The Steamboat Springs Winter Carnival is the oldest continuous such event west of the Mississippi, now celebrating more than 100 years. Typical community events include ski races for kids and adults, a community tubing party, ski jumping demonstration, on-snow mountain biking, horses pulling kids on skis along Main Street and skiers jumping through fiery hoops.
Frozen River Film and Ice Climbing Festivals
Two big events both happen early February in Lake City: the Lake City Ice Climbing Festival at the Lake City Ice Park, with men's and women's speed events, and the Frozen River Film Festival, with two days of movies and shorts about backcountry adventures, rock climbing, conservation and more. The events are typically held concurrently and it's common for people to attend both.
Sunlight Mountain Ski Spree
Weekend Ski Spree highlights usually include ski and snowboarding contests at Sunlight Mountain Resort, a highly competitive chili cook-off, a treasure hunt, live music and a fireworks show at the historic Hotel Colorado in downtown Glenwood Springs. Later in February, the Special Olympics come to Sunlight Mountain, which is another big community event.
Redstone Winter Fest
The annual Redstone Winter Fest is known to feature ice climbing and gear demos, plus a snowshoe race, fat-tire bike race, sleigh rides, dog parade, kids' activities, beer tasting and more, all in this small, quaint, historic mountain town.
Grand Lake Winter Carnival
The annual Grand Lake Winter Carnival features teapot curling on the lake, a kids' snowman-building contest, snow golf, human bowling and other wacky and entertaining events in "the most authentic small town in America." Also look forward to snow sculpting and a sled pull.
Winter Park Winter Carnival
Nine full days of activities mark the Winter Park Winter Festival, with events happening on and off the ski mountain, including live music, disco skate night, ski races, S'mores roasting, free horse-drawn carriage rides, Mardi Gras celebration and rail jams.
Loveland Fire & Ice Festival
The nation's "Sweetheart City," Loveland, is decked out in lights during the annual Loveland Fire & Ice Festival, where visitors are treated to a light show musical spectacular with fireworks and Valentine's Day themed red and white illuminations, as well as live snow sculpting and snow car display. There's a fun kiddie area, too, with carnival rides and games.
Pagosa Springs Winterfest Weekend
A community dance, cribbage tournament, Nordic Club races, "anything goes" downhill sled race, a Penguin Plunge (where a few brave souls dip into the ice-cold San Juan River) and a hot air balloon mass ascension mark the indoor and outdoor activities during the Pagosa Springs Winterfest Weekend.
Cripple Creek Ice Festival
Amazing ice sculptures line the streets of historic downtown during the Cripple Creek Ice Festival, and the weekends' festivities include ice slides and interactive sculptures just for kids, as well as an ice bar with frosty beverages for adults.
Totally Insane Winter Blast
A day of family-friendly activities at Ski Granby Ranch marks the Totally Insane Winter Blast, with games, music and night skiing and tubing.
Mardis Gras Celebration at Snowmass
Snowmass celebrates more than three decades of Fat Tuesday revelry with an incredibly festive Mardi Gras bash in the mountains. The day kicks off with the Mother of All Ascensions uphill race, followed by a bead toss, street performers and an upbeat parade on the Snowmass Mall, plus free live music and evening fireworks.
Mardi Gras Celebration at Keystone Resort
Wear your purple, gold and green beads to sample gumbo and beignets on Mardi Gras at Keystone Resort's River Run Village. Cast your vote for a People's Choice award and listen to live music. This Mardi Gras party is family-friendly.