Embrace Your Inner Viking at This Colorado Fest Dedicated to the Norse God of Snow

If you're searching for a legendary winter party, look no further.

A little culty and particularly Coloradan, the winter revelry in Breckenridge from December 7–9 for the 60th anniversary Ullr Fest is more than worth the drive. This vibrant celebration welcomes mountain locals and visitors from all over to embrace the spirit of Ullr, the Norse god of snow, with the hope of ushering in a season of abundant powder for all skiers, snowboarders, and winter enthusiasts. It all began shortly after Breckenridge Ski Resort was founded when Breck locals Sigurd Rockne and Trygve Berge created the first Ullr Dag festival, a result of many of the ski school instructors at the time being Norwegian and having a long tradition of celebrating Ullr.

Kick things off on Thursday with the Ullr Helmet Decorating Party where, for a small fee, you can craft your own Viking helmet and embrace your inner Norse god. Be sure not to miss the crowning of the Ullr King and Queen after helmet decorating and before you head to Main Street for Breckenridge’s attempt at breaking the unofficial world record for the longest shotski. The event requires 1,370 people to help beat the current world record held by Park City, Utah, so if you’re trying to get in on the fun, sign up ASAP.

Then, ring in the weekend’s festivities with the spirited Main Street Ullr parade, where Ullr devotees can showcase their creativity (and loyalty) via epic parade floats, with cash prizes at stake for the most impressive. Follow it up with tradition at the Ullr bonfire, where Christmas trees from years’ past are burned in a sacrificial offering to the Snow God.

Friday activities include a ski and snowboard race at Breckenridge Ski Resort from 9 am–1 pm, though it’s not just any race. Hosted by Move United, a national nonprofit providing adaptive sports opportunities for people with disabilities, the Race for everyBODY is open to the public for the very first time this year. Participants can ski or snowboard alongside talented adaptive athletes in an inclusive, fun race. Later, enjoy belly laughs at Ullr Comedy Night featuring award-winning comedian Nancy Norton and Andrew Orvedahl.

Saturday is packed with fun as well, from the Ice Skating Party at 12:30 (open to everyone) to the Ice Skating Show at 6 pm (performed by the professionals) to the High Country Holidays Concert at the Riverwalk Center to cap things off. And you heard it here first: Santa himself will be making an appearance during the show, so keep an eye out for that red suit and beard.

Andy Cross/Denver Post/Getty Images

Drive time:

1 hour, 30 mins from Denver.

More things to do in Breckenridge, Colorado:

We’re not trying to be cute, but you should probably try to ski or snowboard at least once while you’re in Breck, especially if you’re not a Colorado local. This area boasts some of the very best powder and downhill fun in the world, let alone the state and country. The Breckenridge Ski Resort has five peaks of breathtaking runs for people of all ages and skill levels. Relatively new to the mountain is the Freedom SuperChair on Peak 7, which you can take to the top, stopping for a hot toddy at Pioneer Crossing before making your descent.

The Breckenridge Nordic Center offers other winter activities, like snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and snowcat tours if you’re eager for wintry fun but a little less adrenaline, and there are plenty of places to take the kids sledding.

And when you’re not shopping to your heart’s content along Main Street (beware the siren call of the craftsmanship at Overland), you might be pleasantly surprised at the abundance of art and entertainment at your fingertips around town. Several galleries and artisans dot the area, and Breck Create always has an interesting class on the schedule. But sometimes, you just want the simple comfort of a movie, and that’s fine too.

Best restaurants and bars in Breckenridge, Colorado:

Breckenridge Brewery is obviously a must while you’re here—the Avalanche Amber Ale and Vanilla Porter are recurring crowd favorites. If you’re craving something a bit stronger, there’s always Breckenridge Distillery, with its reasonable tour and tasting prices, many accolades, and plenty of spirits to go around, whether you prefer vodka or bourbon.

For an elevated dining experience, we recommend Rootstalk by Chef Matt Vawter and team—cozy up with some butternut squash bisque or fill up on a Berkshire pork tenderloin after a day of winter activity. Find awesome pizza, pasta, and sandwiches at Giampietro and equally impressive Mediterranean food at BoLD.

If you’re browsing the shops along Main Street, it’s advised that you attempt to snag a crepe from Crepes A La Carte—you’ll smell them long before you see them. And for those looking for heartier fare, the Bison Chili Soup and various meat-centric entrees at Blue Stag Saloon truly can’t be beat.

The warm comfort of Mexican food can be found at Mi Casa, and sometimes you just need some good old-fashioned pub grub alongside a cold beer in a casual setting—and that’s exactly what Downstairs at Eric’s is perfect for.

Where to stay in Breckenridge, Colorado:

Staying in Breckenridge is sort of like a choose-your-own-adventure; stay off the beaten path in a cabin rental or Airbnb where you can make yourself truly feel at home for the weekend. Or, opt for something a bit more luxurious that’s just steps from Downtown Breckenridge. Gravity Haus is one of the top-tier hotels in the state, let alone Breck. Enjoy amenities like a sauna and soaking tubs, gear rental (to avoid the lines on the slopes), fitness classes, and both a coffee and juice bar for on-the-go treats. Oh, and your four-legged friends are welcome, too.

Other lodging favorites include One Ski Hill Place and The Lodge at Breckenridge, both of which offer that rustic, après-ski vibe, their own restaurants (so you need not travel far for good food if you’re snowed in) and round-the-clock shuttles to and from the mountain.

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Erica Buehler is a Denver-based freelance writer. Follow her @e_buehler on Instagram and @e_buehler_ on Twitter for more updates on Denver food and other Mile High shenanigans.