Revelry seems to be engrained in the DNA of Aspen. In 1951 — just as Aspen was emerging as a world-class winter destination — a handful of locals organized the first Wintersköl, a winter carnival meant to celebrate the town's Nordic lifestyle. Those first few festivals were pretty wild, with snowmobile races down Main Street and costumed skiers doing backflips into slopeside swimming pools.
You won't find such crazy antics at Wintersköl these days (the whole skis-and-aquatics revelry has moved to April with our closing party, called Schneetag). The event has become a distinctly family-friendly affair, and so have a handful of other events that are perfect for all ages.
We've rounded up the best winter events for families below, with links to more information.
12 Days of Aspen
Dates: December 20–December 31
So many events occur during the week of Christmas and New Year's Day, that the city of Aspen decided to consolidate them into one festival called the 12 Days of Aspen.
Festivities focus on all the things we love about winter. Families can enjoy free ice skating, caroling, holiday-themed arts and crafts stations around town, storytime at the library, Hanukkah ceremonies, and the Audi Ajax Cup ski races at Aspen Mountain. This year, visitors and locals can also enjoy A Christmas Carol at the historic Wheeler Opera House. The festivities conclude by ringing in the New Year with fireworks over Aspen Mountain.
With its origins dating back to 1951, Wintersköl embodies Aspen's love of winter and Nordic culture. This year marks the 66th year of the event, and while a lot has changed — such as the addition of a canine fashion show many years ago — the core essence of the festivities remains the same. Your whole family will enjoy the elegant snow sculptures, free public ice skating, Fat Cycle challenge, live music, and the torchlight parade on the slopes of Aspen Mountain followed by fireworks on the night of January 14.
Dates: Every Friday from February 3 through March 31, 2017 (excluding the week of March 17)
Snowmass' award-winning terrain park is the setting for this weekly, open-to-the-public freestyle skiing and snowboarding competition. Watch as competitors throw down in an urban-inspired rail yard, with points awarded for creativity, technical prowess and precision. Of special note for families: watch the "little jibbers" —i.e. skiers and riders under 12 — show off their tricks at the conclusion of the event.
If you have someone in your family with the skills and confidence to compete, registration is open to the public and starts at 1pm. Learn more.
Date: April 1, 2017
Another thrilling competition to watch — or participate in — comes late in the season, on April 1, when Buttermilk hosts the annual Banked Slalom snowboarding event. Bring the whole family and watch competitors race against the pros or within their age group on a challenging banked slalom course down the front face of Buttermilk Mountain.
Learn more about registration, spectator information and times.