(Last Updated On: November 7, 2016)

UPDATED: 10/4/2016

It’s not easy being Santa at nearly 10,000 feet — or his wife, or reindeer. Nonetheless, Breckenridge attracts more than 500 Santas and Mrs. Clauses, or that is, people dressed as the big red guy and his wife and his elves, at Race of the Santas. Kids (dressed as reindeer or mini Santas, of course) run too. This year’s event takes place Dec. 3, along with the Lighting of Breckenridge. It’s one of many holiday events taking place throughout December.

All ages are welcome at the Lighting of Breckenridge -- kids can dress as Santa, Mrs. Claus or an elf. / Photo by Carl Scofield

All ages are welcome at the Lighting of Breckenridge — kids can dress as Santa, Mrs. Claus or an elf. / Photo by Carl Scofield

Though the Race of the Santas only stretches for six blocks down Breckenridge’s Main Street, “everyone says it’s the toughest six blocks they have run,” said Sandy Metzger, events director for the Breckenridge Tourism Office. “Running at almost 10,000 feet in a Santa or holiday outfit adds to the challenge. There are a few people who sprint the race, but the majority jog or walk the course. They’re just out to have fun and raise money for a great cause.”

The cause: Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center, which provides life-changing outdoor learning experiences to people of all abilities. The race has raised more than $8,000 for past beneficiaries since the event began.

Beyond the great cause, the great fun of dressing up in a Santa or Mrs. Claus outfit, there’s a great incentive — or deterrent, depending upon how you look at it — to running at elevation, and that involves — you guessed it: cookies and milk.

Race of Santas info

Following the race, the real Santa leads a procession down Main Street, which culminates with the lighting of the town tree.

Following the race, the real Santa lights the town tree in the Blue River Plaza.

“Think of the milk and cookie station as an obstacle along the race route, for race participants,” said Rachel Zerowin, spokesperson for the Breckenridge Tourism Office.

Winners this year get more than milk and cookies, they’re crowned with Ullr helmets (a Breckenridge tradition to honor Ullr, the Norse god of snow) and prizes.

Locals and visitors alike participate. There’s no need to come pre-outfitted, though if you happen to have your own Santa suit, registration is $15. If not, pick up a Santa suit at Vertical Runner or the Breckenridge Welcome Center for an additional fee. Costumed kids can join their parents for free.

Though the run is non-timed and all about having fun, the top three female and male finishers win prizes.

Of course, festivities don’t stop at the race. The festivities kick off on Friday, Dec. 2 when Breckenridge Creative Arts hosts the Handmade Holiday Craft Market, where you can pick up fine crafts including jewelry, ceramics, candles, accessories and more, with no gift item priced more than $50. The market runs Dec. 2-4 (4-8 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 2, noon-6 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 3 and noon-4 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 4).

Other highlights include:

Victorian carolers sing throughout the afternoon and following the tree lighting ceremony in downtown Breckenridge, Colorado. The 2013 Race of the Santas and Lighting of Breckenridge will take place on Saturday, Dec. 7.

Victorian carolers sing throughout the afternoon and following the tree lighting ceremony in downtown Breckenridge, Colorado.

  • The real Santa arrives at the Blue River Plaza for the lighting of the town tree
  • Don’t miss the Bernese Mountain Dog Parade just before Race of the Santas
  • Visit with the real Santa and at the Barney Ford House Museum (111 E. Washington Ave.), across from the Blue River Plaza

Visit GoBreck.com for a full schedule.

Festivities continue throughout the month of December — check out a few more of our holiday favorites in Breckenridge, as well as the Dew Tour happening Dec. 8-11.

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About The Author

Kimberly Nicoletti always knew she was meant to escape gray Chicago winters and spend her days skiing the Colorado Rockies. So, two months after she turned 18, she moved to Breckenridge to be a ski bum "for a season," assuring her parent's she'd return to Illinois to finish college. But, the ski bum life stuck. After three years of full-time skiing in Summit County, she decided to finish her degree at CU-Boulder in Creative Writing (granted, she took a semester off to ski). Once free of classes, she took yet another year off to ski in Summit (do you see a pattern here?). Then, she moved back to Boulder to earn her master's degree in Somatic Psychology/Dance Therapy. Upon graduation, she spent a winter teaching skiing at Mammoth Mountain. (Surely you see the pattern now.) In 2002, she moved back to Summit full time, to work at the Summit Daily as the arts and entertainment editor. She stayed with the company for 10 years, enjoying Summit's great events and later working as the managing editor of magazines covering the High Country. She still revolves her life around adventure and creativity, taking time to travel, ski, paddleboard, dance, ice skate, play with her dogs, learn new things and generally enjoy life. She's highly addicted to powder skiing and keeps her winter mornings commitment-free so she can indulge in "deep play" when Mother Nature cooperates. Off the mountain, she's a freelance writer and editor and teaches fitness and mind/body classes throughout Summit County.

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