Ullr Fest is here
It’s true that Santa Claus is celebrated the world over as the patriarch of winter magic. But Kris Kringle’s got some competition for that crown, because in Breckenridge, Ullr, the Norse god of snow, is the widely acknowledged king of winter. Unlike Santa Claus, Ullr’s a party animal and every January, party he does. In Breckenridge, thousands join him in a week-long celebration of snow known as Ullr Fest. This year, Ullr has been very good to Breck. On the heels of the snowiest month in 10 years and with nearly 200 inches of powder so far this season, the 48th annual Ullr Fest, Jan. 9-15, promises to be a great one. “With all the wonderful snow we’ve had and with what looks to be another storm blowing in here this weekend, people have a good reason to come out and celebrate the Norse god of snow,” Breckenridge Resort Chamber spokeswoman Rachel Zerowin said. Daily Ullr and winter-themed events will include all the old favorites, as well as a few new surprises. New to the festivities this year, giving an edge to the week of wacky fun, is Tuesday night’s Tuaca Body Art Ball, a show that combines body and performance art. Created by airbrush and tattoo artists, the work takes shape in a sensual, choreographed stage show with music and lights. Also for the first time this year, organizers are asking Ullr’s fans to look back over the last 47 years of snow celebrations and submit their favorite stories for an opportunity to score a pair of lift tickets for Breckenridge Ski Resort. Of course, all the time-honored traditions will also be pulled out for the 2011 Ullr Fest. Breckenridge is gearing up for what could be a very cold Ullr Bonfire night Monday and the eccentric parade through Breckenridge in Ullr’s honor on Thursday. The wintery frivolity begins Sunday with a family-friendly ice skating party with Norse god. Ullr is expected to attend the event, held at the Stephen C. West Ice Arena from 1-3 p.m. The $5 admission includes skate rentals, and hot concessions will be on sale. Proceeds will benefit the Al Chaffee scholarship fund for seniors in high school. For the grown ups, the ice skating will be followed by an evening pub crawl around Breckenridge, an Ullr themed tour of the town’s hot spots. On Monday, forecasted to be another sub-zero night with a slight chance of snow, the Ullr-ites will warm up in the blaze of the customary bonfire, after a cross country ski or snowshoe trip out from the Gold Run Nordic Center at the Breckenridge Golf Course. The crowd will enjoy appetizers and a cash bar as they watch the crowning of the 2011 Ullr king and queen, locals and business owners Rick Ascher and Annie Evans. “The town has a lot of heart and soul,” Ascher said in a statement from the chamber. “Through all the changes over the years, we’re fortunate to have met a great group of people that stick together. It’s an honor to have so many of those people think of us as the Ullr King and Queen.”Ascher has been a Breck resident since 1979. He and his wife, Evans, raised their two children in Breckenridge. Ascher owns Pup’s Glide Shop, and Evans owns Joy of Sox in Breckenridge. Both are skiers and fans of Ullr’s work. “I’m really proud to be part of a town where someone is judged not only by their character and integrity but by their number of ski days,” Evans said in the statement. This year the bonfire will be followed by a buffet dinner at the Gold Run Nordic Center. The Ullympics will commence Tuesday at 6 p.m. in Carter Park. The finest winter athletes in town will gather in teams of four to participate in events that will include the highly competitive frying pan toss and group ski racing. An after-party at the Mother Loaded will follow for those not planning to attend the Body Art Ball. The ball open to those age 21 and up. Doors open at 8 p.m., and the performance is set to begin at 9 p.m. Wednesday will kick off Breck Ascent, an uphill challenge series for skinning and snowshoeing. At night, local radio station KSMT, “The Mountain,” will host the Dating Game at Cecilia’s. Ullr himself is expected to toss his hat in for a shot to find true love along with other bachelors and bachelorettes ages 21 and up. The famous capstone event of the week, the Ullr parade, will be held Thursday, featuring floats built by Breckenridge locals. In the past the parade has featured ski jumps, hot tubs and ski waxing stations as more than 12,000 people packed the streets of Breckenridge to watch. The parade is set to start at 4:30 p.m. on North Main Street in Breck and heads south through the center of town. Friday is comedy night at the Village at Breckenridge. Comedians Stephanie McHugh and Rocky LaPorte will go on at 8 p.m. Pre-show cocktails will begin at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $35 at the Carriage House and the Breckenridge Welcome Center or can be purchased at the door. Ullr fans can warm up and fill up at the Chilly Chili Cook Off at the Riverwalk Center presented by the Breckenridge Mountain Rotary Club. The event will include chili tastings and family activities. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door. Ullr Fest is produced by the Breckenridge Resort Chamber.
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