Breckenridge’s Ullr Fest brings a parade and a party that even a New Orleans girl can vouch for. Think of this signature winter festival as a week-long snow dance. Read on for some local advice, skip to the Ullr Fest highlights or check out a detailed Ullr Fest schedule.
“I’m not sure I’m saying this right … ”
Thanks, Colin Bane via Westword, for this beautifully simple guideline to pronouncing Ullr: it rhymes with ruler. Ullr is the Norse god of snow.
Know your Ullr Fest roots
Breckenridge’s story begins in 1859 with gold-seeking prospectors. We’ll fast-forward to the 1960s, when pioneers came in the form of skiers whose Norwegian roots run deep. Trygve Berge and Sigurd Rockne – the same pair who founded what was to become Breckenridge Ski Resort – also started Ullr Fest, then known as Ullr Dag (or Ullr Day in Norwegian).
The story says it’s all about paying homage to Ullr, both thanking him for Breckenridge’s bountiful snowfall and honoring him in hopes of more snow. That’s true, but we’ve also got the hunch that a handful of snowed-in locals wanted an excuse to party.
Today, Breckenridge Distillery libations have taken the place of Aquavit. But the themes that started it all – snow and Vikings and Breckenridge – continue in the form of Bedazzled Ullr helmets, fake fur clothing, a world record shot ski and a parade that celebrates life in a ski town.
Live like the locals on parade day
In New Orleans, the major parades are exclusive. In Breckenridge, we’ll take anyone willing to costume up. Gold underwear and body paint? Perfect. Fake fur bikini? You’re in.
We understand that not everyone has the time to plan and build a float. After all, it requires evenings spent building and barbecuing, plus many preceding discussions on theme and the integrity of materials such as papier-mâché and duct tape.
For those of you not building a float, we suggest starting with the world record shot ski attempt. Later, mix with the community — all along Main Street, viewers wait for the parade in local watering holes. Don’t take it from us, check out fan photos from 2013 and 2014, or see below for highlights from the 2015 parade (which includes The Weather Channel and a little Jim Cantore).
Schedule highlights: Breckenridge Ullr Fest, Jan. 11-14, 2017
For 2017, Breckenridge packs the most popular Ullr events into a few days of fun. Visit GoBreck.com for the detailed schedule. Highlights include:
Ullr Ice Plunge
More than 200 brave souls took the icy dip into Maggie Pond in 2016–head out in your favorite swim costume or stop by to check out the action. Don’t worry, there’s a hot tub for warming up after you jump.
Breck’s Got Talent
Join local radio station, Always Mountain Time, for a town-wide talent show. Expect to laugh, and meet the new Ullr King and Queen as they are crowned before the show.
Ullr Shot Ski/Parade/Bonfire
If you only make it to one event, this is it. See why. More than 12,000 Ullr enthusiasts fill the streets for the Ullr Parade. Past floats have included jumps, hot tubs on wheels and life-size snow globes. Don’t miss the 2017 Ullr Fest Shot Ski attempt just before the parade. Keep an eye on the Breck Distillery Facebook page for shot ski updates, and bring your used skis to the Breckenridge Distillery–we need the armor to reclaim our world record!
The Ullr Bonfire rolls immediately following the parade. Christmas trees are welcome; join us at the South Gondola Parking Lot.
If You Go
Breck knows how to party. This season, let’s continue the tradition and bring even more snow to the slopes of Breckenridge.