Ten Days of Ullr to keep Ullr Fest traditions alive during pandemic
BRECKENRIDGE — Ullr Fest is still on for this year with the pandemic-friendly Ten Days of Ullr celebration.
While many major Breckenridge events have been canceled due to the ongoing pandemic, the town is starting to bring back annual events in altered formats.
Breckenridge Tourism Office spokesperson Austyn Dineen said Ullr Fest is a Breckenridge tradition that the town doesn’t want to lose sight of. Ten Days of Ullr, which pays tribute to the Norse god of snow, will take place from Dec. 9-19 and will feature a mix of in-person and virtual events.
“There are some events that are just not feasible this year,” Dineen said. “Ten Days of Ullr basically takes the highlights.”
Several traditional Ullr Fest events are still happening with some adjustments. In place of the Ullr Fest parade, the elaborate floats will be turned into stationary art installations. Anyone can build a float, and the Breckenridge Tourism Office will coordinate setting up these art installations throughout town.
The festivities also will include a scavenger hunt, which will consist of 20 challenges and one adventure. The hunt will be self-guided and will involve teams traveling throughout town to solve puzzles and complete challenges. Dineen said the hunt is based on “The Amazing Race” and will point out lesser-known sites and history in Breckenridge.
While details are not yet solidified, Breck Film will host a film screening Dec. 12, which likely will include a virtual component. Ten Days of Ullr also will include Strava-based fat bike races as well as crafts with Breckenridge Creative Arts supplying Ullr helmet kits.
The Ullr Fest shot ski is a big hit every year, when people line up along Main Street to try to beat the longest shot ski record, which typically alternates between Breckenridge and Park City, Utah. Of course, the traditional shot ski can’t take place with COVID-19 restrictions, so the Breckenridge Distillery is working to get creative with a plan for this year.
“Obviously, since we can’t have large gatherings, we’re super bummed to not do the shot ski,” said Breckenridge Distillery marketing manager Jessie Unruh-Brossman. “So we were trying to come up with other ways to make it happen.”
Unruh-Brossman explained that the distillery plans to use a concept for the shot ski that it used in mid-September for the Avalanche of Breckenridge shot event, where people across the country all took a shot of Breckenridge bourbon at 7 p.m. Mountain time and posted to social media.
Unruh-Brossman said the distillery plans to host the event live on Instagram, do the countdown and hopefully beat the unofficial shot ski record based on the amount of people participating. While it’s up to local bars and restaurants to decide how they might want to take part, the distillery hopes to have participation around town as people are out and about while following physical distancing protocols.
“Ullr is about celebrating the snow and the season ahead but also the community,” Unruh-Brossman said. “Ullr Fest brings out longtime locals and tourists alike, and I think for us, it’s just important to keep the camaraderie and get everyone excited for winter, get everyone excited for the next season and just bring people together, I think that’s a big part of what Ullr Fest is. We started the shot ski years and years ago, and it’s a quirky event, and we want to have fun.”
“Being such an iconic tradition in Breckenridge, we don’t want to lose track of it,” Dineen said. “The goal again would be to not let these traditions take a break and really have a placeholder … .”
As oktober-FEAST was meant to be a way to celebrate Oktoberfest, the redesigned versions of Ullr Fest and the Lighting of Breckenridge, which is scheduled for Dec. 5, are meant to be placeholders for the original events until they can be restored to their former glory.
“Across all signature events, the goal is to really find what were those shining stars and how can we continue those and learn from them,” Dineen said. “What we’re seeing is there’s still a hunger to celebrate. It’s just how can we responsibly celebrate in an interesting year.”
For the Lighting of Breckenridge, Dineen explained that the Race of the Santas and the lighting countdown, which usually feature large gatherings, are postponed. The lights still will turn on, and there are conversations about a winter wonderland walking museum or a festival of trees as part of the event.
“The goal would be challenging our community to come together, everyone being decked out in Santa suits and really trying to create that holiday good spirit that we need right now,” Dineen said.
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