Winter Festival Brings Snow Fun, Chili Cookoff, Photography Snowshoeing And More To Estes Park
From free snowshoeing, family games and activities, to chili cookoffs and a wine and beer tasting; there will be plenty of activities for all during Estes Park’s 1st Annual Winter Festival, Jan. 15 through 18.
Many of the activities take place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Bond Park in the center of downtown Estes Park at the intersection of Elkhorn and MacGregor Avenues. The chili cook-offs and wine/beer tasting will be held in a heated tent with live entertainment.
Other activities for the weekend include horse & carriage rides, observatory tours, cowboy poetry & ghost stories, an art gallery walk, private photo tours and live entertainment. Throughout the festival, individuals can participate in a scavenger hunt leading them to the prize elk with over $1,000 in prizes. Scavenger hunt instructions can be picked up at Bond Park. Clues will lead them to various stops along downtown Estes.
The festival officially kicks off beginning at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 15 with free family fun at the Historic Crags Lodge, 500 Riverside Dr. with cowboy poetry & ghost stories complemented by s’mores and refreshments. Also on Friday, the Estes Park Aquatic Center is hosting special Winter Festival hours on Friday from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Want to gaze at the stars and the planets? Check out the Estes Park Observatory on Friday or Saturday evening. Round out your evening by enjoying top notch entertainment with live music both Friday and Saturday night at the Rock Inn, Mary’s Lake Lodge and the Stanley Hotel.
Saturday’s chili cookoff is open to any individual; Chili Appreciation Society International (CASI-www.chili.org) rules must be followed. A Sunday cookoff is set aside for local restaurants who will be competing for bragging rights to the moniker “Best Chili in Town.” Sanction rules do not apply for the Sunday event.
During the cookoffs, wine and beer tastings will be ongoing from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., along with music by the eclectic acoustic foursome Peregrin Road. (www.peregrinroad.com) All-you-can-taste chili tickets are $5 for the day and all-you-can-taste wine & beer is $20 per day which includes a commemorative Winter Festival glass.
One of the big draws on Saturday is the 15th Annual Winter Trails Day in Rocky Mountain National Park sponsored by the national Winter Trails organization. Snowshoe manufacturers (Tubbs, Atlas, Red Feather and more) will be on hand to offer the opportunity to try out their snowshoes. Information about snowshoe excursions will be provided while equipment trials give participants the opportunity to check out the winter sport for free. Other activities during the day will include winter safety presentations, outdoor product demonstrations, igloo making and expert advice on the fitting and selection of snowshoes. The event is free to attend, however normal Rocky Mountain National Park fees apply at the entrance gate.
Log your activities during Winter Trails, and receive a President’s Challenge certificate of participation from the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. Participants will visit educational stations for information on snowshoe basics, how to dress for winter activities, nutrition and hydration tips, basic conditioning exercise and essentials for winter hiking and camping.
After spending the day out in the sun and snow, take advantage of a free hot stone upgrade at nine participating spas in town.
Also planned for the weekend are special photo tours from one of five local professionals. Pre-register at aywguiding.com/winterfest.html
For more details about the Winter Festival, call the Estes Park Convention & Visitors Bureau at 970-577-9900 or 800-443-7837 or visit www.EstesParkCVB.com.