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Breckenridge’s Ullr Fest brings a parade and a party that even a New Orleans girl can vouch for. Think of this signature winter festival as a week-long snow dance. Read on for some local advice, skip to the Ullr Fest highlights or check out a detailed schedule.
“I’m not sure I’m saying this right … ”
Local Tip: Make sure you pronounce Ullr right. Thanks, Colin Bane via Westword, for this beautifully simple guideline to pronouncing Ullr: it rhymes with ruler. Ullr is the Norse god of snow.
Know your Ullr Fest roots
Breckenridge’s story begins in 1859 with gold-seeking prospectors. We’ll fast-forward to the 1960s, when pioneers came in the form of skiers whose Norwegian roots run deep. Trygve Berge and Sigurd Rockne – the same pair who founded what was to become Breckenridge Ski Resort – also started Ullr Fest, then known as Ullr Dag (or Ullr Day in Norwegian).
The story says it’s all about paying homage to Ullr, both thanking him for Breckenridge’s bountiful snowfall and honoring him in hopes of more snow. That’s true, but we’ve also got the hunch that a handful of snowed-in locals wanted an excuse to party.
Today, Breckenridge Distillery libations have taken the place of Aquavit. But the themes that started it all – snow, Vikings and Breckenridge – continue in the form of Bedazzled Ullr helmets, faux-fur clothing, a world record shot ski and a parade that celebrates life in a ski town.
Live like the locals on parade day
If you only make it to one event, this is it. More than 12,000 Ullr enthusiasts fill the streets for the Ullr Parade. Past floats have included jumps, hot tubs on wheels and life-size snow globes. Local Tip: BYOB viking helmets or purchase your own at the Breckenridge Welcome Center. Everyone is invited to dress up for this event.
Join the World’s Longest Shot Ski
Nothing is better than a little competition to bring a festival to new heights! For years, Breckenridge has battled with Park City over who holds the title of World’s Longest Shot Ski. With Breckenridge’s shot ski reputation on the line, Breckenridge Distillery promised to step up their game with more skis, more people and more shots. Local Tip: Sign up for the shot ski in advance. This record breaker is so popular it sells out fast!
Ullr Ice Plunge
More than 200 brave souls took the icy dip into Maggie Pond last year, the ultimate sacrifice to Ullr–head out in your favorite swim costume or stop by to check out the action. Don’t worry, there’s a hot tub for warming up after you jump. Local’s Tip: Breckenridge is traditionally one of the snowiest places in North America. The Ullr Fest Ice Plunge might be the reason why. This activity is for the brave and crazy ones. The rest of us enjoy watching.
Breck’s Got Talent
Join local radio station, Always Mountain Time, for a town-wide talent show. Expect to laugh and meet the new Ullr King and Queen as they are crowned before the show. This event is free to watch, super entertaining and includes a free beer at entry for the first 200 attendees. Local’s Tip: This event doesn’t just include local celebrities, we pull in talent from America’s got talent, Denver and visiting stars around the country.
Ullr Fest Bonfire
The Ullr Bonfire rolls immediately following the parade. The local’s Christmas trees are gathered and burned throughout the night to keep the fire blazing and bonfire participants warm. If the bonfire isn’t enough, the DJ on hand will be playing tunes to help get your feet moving. Local’s Tip: Bring your camera or cellphone to capture the mesmerizing scenes at the bonfire. Don’t forget to share using #BreckLife.
If You Go:
Breckenridge knows how to party. This season, let’s continue the tradition and bring even more snow to the slopes of Breckenridge.