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winter festivals
The Dillon Ice Castles are open through March. Photo courtesy of Ice Castles.

3 Must-See Winter Festivals for Families

From sculptures to castles, here are three icy ways to experience the chill of winter in Colorado.

Heading outside during the winter may be low on your family’s priority list unless you’re a die-hard skier or nature enthusiast. But there are plenty of fun ways to enjoy some fresh air throughout our state’s chillier months without heading to the slopes. Here are three frosty festivals that will get you celebrating the Colorado cold.

Breckenridge International Snow Sculpture Championships

January 22-29, 2018

What do you get when you combine 400 tons of snow, 16 teams of artists from around the world, and countless hours of skillful carving throughout five days? A temporary outdoor art gallery of snow sculptures in downtown Breckenridge. Starting with a blank canvas—i.e., blocks of snow measuring 10 feet wide, 10 feet long, and 12 feet high—artists competing in the 28th Annual International Snow Sculpture Championships use hand tools—from vegetable peelers to small saws—to craft their masterpieces. Visitors can watch the four-person teams transform 25-ton blocks of snow into works of art across five days, January 22-26, in roughly 65 hours of sculpting. Enjoy the completed sculptures January 25-29, returning during nighttime to see them lit up in a dazzling light display.

Dillon Ice Castles

Open through March 2018

If you or (more likely) your kids have ever fantasized about walking into an ice castle straight out of Disney’s Frozen, Utah-based company Ice Castles just made it a reality. Debuting a life-size ice castle this winter in Dillon’s Town Park, this attraction features ice-carved tunnels, fountains, slides, frozen thrones, and spiraling towers complete with color-changing LED lights that twinkle to music at night. Crafted from 12,000 hand-harvested icicles sculpted into structures by approximately 30 ice artisans, the sprawling castle represents 25,000 tons of ice and unlimited fun for kids and adults alike. One of six locations throughout North America—including Midway, Utah, and Winnipeg, Manitoba—this must-see winter fantasyland will be open through March (weather-dependent). Insider tip: Wear boots to walk on the castle’s crushed-ice floors, and bring a pull sled in lieu of strollers to tour the castle with little ones.

Loveland Fire & Ice Festival

February 9-11, 2018

Known as the sweetheart city, Loveland is known as Cupid headquarters throughout February—heart-shaped love notes adorn the lampposts and the city has operated a Valentine Re-mailing Program for more than 70 years. Each year, the city ramps up the love with the Loveland Fire & Ice Festival, a free event where revelers descend on historic downtown for live entertainment, food trucks, fireworks, and ice sculpting. Just 45 minutes north of Denver, Loveland visitors can participate in the Sweetheart Classic 4-mile Run; drink craft coffee and brews like a one-of-a-kind love potion “Bleeding Heart”—a cherry-chocolate brown lager created by Grimm Brothers Brewhouse; or take a horse-drawn carriage ride. The three day festival is full of fire, ice, music, and fun, and culminates with a fireworks display each night.

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