53rd-annual Ullr Fest takes over Breckenridge this weekend | VailDaily.com

53rd-annual Ullr Fest takes over Breckenridge this weekend

The 53rd annual Ullr Fest continues Friday, Jan. 15 and Saturday, Jan. 16.
Daniel Dunn / Breckenridge Tourism Office |


Friday, Jan. 15

10 a.m. to noon — Hangover Breakfast

2-4 p.m. — Ullr Ice Plunge

5 p.m. — Ullr Bike

7 p.m. — Comedy Night; show begins at 8 p.m.

7:50 p.m. — Breckenridge Bucks Hockey Game

Saturday, Jan. 16

1-3 p.m. — Ice skating party

3-5 p.m. — Ullympics

6 p.m. — Wild and Scenic Film Festival; festival begins at 7 p.m.

7:50 p.m. — Breckenridge Bucks Hockey Game

BRECKENRIDGE — John Gregory has attended every Ullr Fest since moving to Summit County 33 years ago. Like many locals, he cherishes the 53-year-old town of Breckenridge tradition of celebrating the god of winter for his gift of snow. His wife, Susan, has been to almost as many herself, only sacrificing attendance to partake in parent-teacher conferences when her children were still in school. The town has rewarded their Ullr spirit and commitment to the community by honoring them with Ullr King and Queen status this year, after a nomination by their employees at Gregory Door and Window. Ullr Fest continues in Breckenridge today and Saturday.


With more than three decades of festivals under his belt, John said the tradition hasn’t changed all that much over the years.

“It’s a little bigger and a little more grand, but the attitude is exactly the same,” he said.

The party started back in 1963, and, although Susan agreed with John that the attitude hasn’t changed much, she said it’s slightly tamer, as women aren’t allowed to be topless these days.

Breckenridge locals lobbied the town council to start “Ullr Dag” more than five decades ago, forming traditions throughout the years that continue to this day. One tradition that started at Ullr Fest, the snow sculpting competition, was so popular that it is now its own event — the Budweiser International Snow Sculpture Championships — taking place later this month.

“One of the things that I love about this event is that Ullr Fest is so organic and unique to Breckenridge,” said Rachel Zerowin, with the Breckenridge Tourism Office. “It’s really the community, the creativity with the floats and their willingness to hang out all week in Viking horns that makes this event so special. It started with the founders of the ski resort in a very natural way, and the community has just carried that tradition on, and I think that’s one of the things that makes Ullr Fest so special.”


Tonight, at the Ullr Bike event, there will be a race at the Gold Run Nordic Center and also a chance to demo a fat bike for free, and new this year, the Ullr Ice Plunge will also take place today, for those brave enough to jump into the icy waters of Maggie Pond. Registration for this event is free, and participants will receive a free hot lunch provided by Quandary Grill. There will also be a heated changing room and a hot tub, provided by Affordable Mountain Hot Tubs, open to anyone willing to accept the challenge.

“We wanted to mix a chilly New Year’s tradition with the fun atmosphere of Breckenridge, and the Ullr Ice Plunge was born,” said Breckenridge Tourism Office events manager Gavin Dalgliesh. “The timing, the vibe, the temperatures — everything about Ullr Fest seemed like a great fit for this new event, and it gives us some new action (today).”

The Ullympics are back on Saturday, and registration is free to participate in group ski racing, a ski boot relay and more. Ullr Fest is one of the longest-standing events in the town.

“It is Breckenridge’s version of a townwide snow dance, so at the heart of it, we are really just trying to show a little love to Ullr, who we hope will bring more snow to slopes of Breckenridge,” Zerowin said.

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