Frozen Art: Visit Ice and Snow Sculptures in Colorado

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Teams around the world get to work from January 24, sculpting 12-foot-tall, 20-ton blocks of snow into masterpieces at the Breckenridge International Snow Sculpting Championships. Photo by Zach Hooper / Breckenridge Visitor Center.

Art comes in many forms, but during the Colorado winter it comes in the form of snow and ice sculptures.

From the Snow Sculpting Championships in Breckenridge which bring together competitors from around the world to an evening bonfire in Berthoud to enjoy the warmth of a slowly melting tower of ice, Colorado winter offers the opportunity to enjoy of a wonderland beyond the ski slopes. These spectacular winter events bring to life a cold blank canvas and the communities that welcome them.

Colorado Ice and Snow Sculpting Events

Berthoud SNOWFEST, January 10-15, 2022, in Berthoud, Colorado

Due to the warm temperatures at the start of winter, the city has postponed its annual December event on the main street of Berthoud.

The event is now scheduled for January 10-15, 2022. Snow wrapping begins January 10, and artists start carving their blocks on January 12.

On January 15, take advantage of the vendors’ kiosks at Parc Fickel from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Bring your kids from 11 a.m. to learn how to carve with five gallon snow blocks. Voting for the “People’s Choice” snow sculpture competition takes place from 10 am to 4 pm on January 15, with prizes awarded that evening. The event schedule is subject to change. For the latest information, visit the event webpage.

In 1951, this small town launched an annual event like “a toast to the winter”. Over the years, the four-day event has featured mountain activities, concerts, a bonfire and fireworks. Its free slogan button has become a must-have for the visitor.

The 2022 event will be a little different due to the pandemic. It will be celebrated across Aspen’s four ski mountains and will incorporate social distancing and other safety measures, including virtual events. The program has yet to be released, but has historically included Wintersculpt, a 24-hour snow sculpture competition in the Mill Street Mall area.

While this festival doesn’t actually feature ice sculptures, it’s hard not to be impressed by the beauty of the ice climbing park where the festival is primarily held.

During the winter months, 250 sprinklers in Uncompahgre Gorge bring a mile-long expanse of man-made ice walls to life and watching a climber conquer these colossal frozen masterpieces is electrifying.

This festival transforms the small town of Ouray into a hotspot for ice climbing, with visitors from all over the world competing. All proceeds will be used to finance the operating costs of the Ouray Ice Park.

Starting Jan. 24, competitors begin carving 12-foot-high, 20-ton blocks of snow using only hand tools to bring an outdoor art gallery to life in historic downtown Breckenridge.  Photo by Carl-Scofield / Breckenridge Tourist Board.
Starting Jan. 24, competitors begin carving 12-foot-high, 20-ton blocks of snow using only hand tools to bring an outdoor art gallery to life in historic downtown Breckenridge. Photo by Carl-Scofield / Breckenridge Tourist Board.

Twelve teams from around the world get to work starting January 24, sculpting 12-foot-tall, 20-ton blocks of snow into masterpieces. They spend five days (around 96 hours) using only hand tools to bring an outdoor art gallery to life in historic downtown Breckenridge. Each day during Carving Week, the 11 hour carving competition begins with the cannon firing.

The event is free and the viewing week begins January 28 and ends February 2 at 7 p.m. During this time, visitors can learn more about the teams from USA, Ecuador, Germany, Italy, Lithuania and Mexico. Visitors can also learn about the sculpting process and other exciting facts about the art. Don’t forget to vote for the People’s Choice Award.

During the week of vision, the rooms are illuminated for 10 minutes per hour and half hour, from 4.30 p.m. to 11 p.m.

Illuminated snow sculptures in downtown Breckenridge.  Photo courtesy of the Breckenridge Tourist Board.
Illuminated snow sculptures in downtown Breckenridge. Photo courtesy of the Breckenridge Tourist Board.

Transport and parking: Free parking is available on Airport Road. Shuttles run every 15 minutes via the Yellow Route. The “F-Lot” stop is the closest to the event headquarters, served by most bus lines. Additional free parking is available at Colorado Mountain College on Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., with free transportation to the event.

Dogs are allowed, but not on or around public transport areas or in the heated hut. Be careful, there are large crowds and other loud displays that might frighten your dog.

Rio Frio revolves around a 5K event, though visitors can experience the four ice sculptures on Alamosa’s main street. The exhibits adhere to the theme of the event of the year – so look for work ‘under the sea’ in 2022. Ice sculpting demonstrations take place at noon on January 29 and you can hang out that evening. for the “fire and ice fire” which is sure to melt the ice tower.

Visit their website for a full schedule of events, including the “SoCo Ice Bowl” Disc Golf Event, Costume Contest, Polar Dive and Ice Carousel.

This is a photo of penguin snow sculptures.
Penguins represent the theme for Winter Carnival 2019, “Blast of Winter: Snow Play!”. Photo courtesy of Rory Clow, SSWSC.

The event highlights the city’s western heritage and winter sports tradition. There is fun for the whole family. If the temperatures are cool enough, the event also features ice sculptures. But you might want to see them earlier in the carnival as the statues have melted down quite quickly in recent years. Learn more about the carnival.

See you next year for the …

Cripple Creek Ice Festival

This fun festival that highlights artists and chainsaws was canceled in 2021 due to the pandemic. Its organizers have yet to announce whether they will bring it back in 2022. Historically, that took place in February.

Held since 2006, each year it has a theme that inspires the artists’ ice sculptures as they carve into 160-pound blocks as audiences watch the transformation. There are interactive sculptures to climb, and some are specially designed for kids and sometimes include a slide or maze.

Dillon Ice Castles

This annual winter attraction will not be held this year as its previous location, Dillion Municipal Park, is under construction. The Ice Castles spokesperson said the group was “confident the event will return to Colorado,” hopefully by the winter of 2022.


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