Ullr Fest, other seasonal traditions return to the High Country
Get ready for the holidays with town lightings, Race of the Santas and more
December is here, meaning Christmas is right around the corner, and Summit County communities are itching to celebrate. Following in the footsteps of Frisco, Keystone and Copper — Silverthorne and Breckenridge are turning on the holiday lights. Other festivities happening soon include the Race of the Santas and the long-awaited return of Ullr Fest.
Happening first is the town of Silverthorne’s First Friday event. Beginning at 4:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 3, the public is invited to shop at a holiday art market featuring more than 40 local vendors at the Silverthorne Pavilion, 400 Blue River Parkway.
If you’re already done with holiday shopping, then listen to carolers from the Summit Chorale Society and take photos with Santa. Silverthorne Recreation Center tap dancing students will also perform a holiday medley at 4:45 p.m.
Families can pop into Red Buffalo Coffee & Tea, 358 Blue River Parkway, for a holiday story hour hosted by Summit County Library. Free hot chocolate, coffee and crafts will be provided, and stories will rotate every 15 minutes so people can stay as long or as little as they want.
The readings end in time for the 5:30 p.m. holiday tree lighting ceremony outside of the pavilion. Stick around for a concert from Summit Community Orchestra with dance selections from “The Nutcracker” performed by the Summit Dance Academy at 6 p.m.
Breckenridge then has its own lighting ceremony Saturday, Dec. 4. However, before the sun sets and the magic happens, people can burn off the holiday jitters with a series of races.
Dogs and their owners will lead the procession at 3:45 p.m. at the intersection of Park Avenue and Main Street. Kids 12 and younger can participate in the half-mile Moose March at 4:20 p.m. Racers will receive a moose hat, and kids are encouraged to dress in costume as they start in front of Peak-A-Boo Toys and finish in the Blue River Plaza.
Speaking of costumes, expect hundreds of Santas to run down Main Street at 4:30 p.m. to spread holiday cheer. The half-mile race course is the same as the Moose March. Suits are not included, but they can be purchased for $25 at the Breckenridge Welcome Center, 203 S. Main St. The Moose March costs $10 and Race of the Santas cost $15. Visit BreckenridgeRecreation.com to register.
The races end in time for Blue River Plaza’s illumination at 5 p.m. There are 13,000 feet of 250,000 LED holiday lights that will shine in town once Santa flips the switch.
While Christmas is coming up, Hanukkah is already here, and Breckenridge will celebrate that holiday, as well. Organized by Chabad JCC of Vail, the 6:30 p.m. ceremony will honor Breckenridge Mayor Eric Mamula with the lighting of the menorah in Blue River Plaza. Breckenridge’s menorah is one of 15,000 public menorahs sponsored by Chabad in more than 100 countries around the world.
Afterward, the public can enjoy hot latkes, doughnuts, Hanukkah music and other activities. All attendees will receive their own menorah kit to light at home for the remainder of Hanukkah, which concludes Monday, Dec. 6.
The festive fun continues in Breckenridge on Thursday, Dec. 9, with the return of Ullr Fest. Celebrating the Norwegian god of snow, it is the first time the event has been held since December 2019. Reigning royalty Carl Scofield and Leigh Girvin have been holding onto their titles in the interim, but Ullr Fest truly begins when the new king and queen are crowned for their community spirit at 3:30 p.m. Thursday on Main Street.
Revelers can then line up on the street at 3:45 p.m. to participate in Breckenridge Distillery’s 4 p.m. shot ski. The annual shot ski contest between Breckenridge and Park City, Utah, is seeking 1,333 people to help the town beat the 2019 record and hold onto the title of longest unofficial shot ski.
There is no bonfire this year, due to lack of a safe location since the construction of the new gondola parking structure, so the evening concludes at 4:30 p.m. with the Ullr Fest parade. The Breckenridge Tourism Office has increased the prize money this year to encourage creative floats and increase participation. The cash prize for first place is $1,000 — double the prize awarded in previous years — while second place wins $750, and third place wins $500.
“It’s been two years since we’ve marched down Main Street in our Viking hats and honored and praised Ullr, the Norse god,” Breckenridge Tourism Office spokesperson Lauren Swanson said. “We just want this parade to be really special. We want it to be a fun, community celebration to get everybody together.”
It costs $15 to participate in the shot ski, and all proceeds benefit Breckenridge Mountain Rotary. The parade is free, but floats must be registered by noon Wednesday, Dec. 8. Visit UllrFest.com to sign up for either event.
The Stephen C. West Ice Arena, 189 Boreas Pass Road, will have curling and skating Friday, Dec. 10, and Saturday, Dec. 11, culminating with a holiday ice show at 7 p.m. Saturday.
Ullr Fest comes to a close at 11:30 a.m. Sunday, Dec. 12, with a free screening of “The Art of Flight.” The snowboard film starring Mark Landvik, Pat Moore, John Jackson and more will be shown at The Eclipse Theater, 103 S. Harris St.
Though Keystone already lit up River Run Village, the area is still in the holiday spirit. The Summit School of Dance will present a seasonal classic, “The Nutcracker,” on Dec. 10 and 11 at Warren Station Center for the Arts, 164 Ida Belle Drive.
The troupe will dance to the popular songs like “Waltz of the Flowers” and the “Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy,” and families can join in on a holiday singalong.
Each show is general admission and starts at 6 p.m., with doors opening at 5:30 p.m. Tickets are $7 for kids and $15 for adults, and streaming links are available for $5. Visit WarrenStation.com to purchase.
Dillon will be the last local town to light up this month. However, that doesn’t make it any less grand. Visit the pavilion of Dillon’s Marina Park, 306 W. Lodgepole St., at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 15, for hot chocolate, crafts, letters to Santa and photos with Mr. and Mrs. Claus.
The tree will be lit at 5 p.m. and be on display until mid-January.
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