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02/03/2021 - 4:30pm to 02/07/2021 - 12:30pm
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Winter Events

Mention a parade and fireworks and people say that’s typical. Talk about adults on shovels being pulled down main street behind horses or skiers jumping through fiery hoops and people stop to listen. 

Steamboat’s Winter Carnival is the oldest, continuous Winter Carnival west of the Mississippi. It began in 1914, as the cure for long winters, short days and cabin fever. Today, it’s the rite of passage of every Steamboat child, a well-loved tradition for local families and a week of spectacular snow celebrations for our guests. It’s a favorite way to experience the best of Ski Town USA®’s snow history and traditions.

Here’s a quick summary of our favorite happenings during this multi-day event


Opening Ceremonies
Opening ceremonies are on Wednesday at 5:30 pm. If you want to become the next Eddie the Eagle, you can learn to ski jump (12+) on the historic Howelsen Hill ski jumps right after the opening ceremony. Your family and friends can even watch the fireworks spectacle from the cozy Aurum restaurant dining room if you’re ready for an audience. However, seeing the ground action may be difficult.

Ski Jumping Jamboree, S’more Family Fun Party, Parent-Child Slalom Race
Thursday’s events have everything from the ski jumping jamboree to parent-child slalom racing. Enjoy the snow sculptures downtown and end with the S’more Family Fun Party. Roasted marshmallows, dancing under the stars and a fire show by the “Pyroneers”. ($10 additional charge for the S’more Family Fun Party). Friday’s favorites are the Soda Pop Slalom (on the Steamboat Ski Mountain) in the morning and the Johnsie Dual Slalom bicycle race (yes, bike racing on a ski run!) on Howelsen in the evening. 

Street Events

While Steamboat locals are fairly responsible parents the other 360 days of the year, during Winter Carnival street events, local Steamboat kids are encouraged to ski behind horses (at top speed) right down the main street. With enough horsepower, some even aim for the “Donkey Jump” flying up to 40 feet through the air before (hopefully) sticking the landing. The downtown street events are both on Saturday and Sunday mornings. They are a do.not.miss. and are over by noon, so there’s plenty of time to still get in a few turns on the mountain, afterward.  

Night Extravaganza
On Saturday evening of Winter Carnival, we top off our questionable daytime parenting with an evening full of fanfare and fireworks. We light up the night by sending our small children down Howelsen Hill (holding flares) and our big children through a fiery hoop off of the Nordic jump.

These pyro-clad kids lead the way for the show-stopping Lighted Man and end the night with a fireworks show featuring one of the largest fireworks in the country!

The best view is right at the base of Howelsen Hill. Dress warmly, grab a thermos of hot cocoa that our catered guests can have provided by us or get it there and get ready to be wowed!

*Fun Facts about the Night Extravaganza

While fireworks might be a more frequent occurrence at other winter carnivals, The Lighted Man is uniquely Steamboat. He has been a night extravaganza mainstay since 1939. Claudius Banks was the original Lighted Man, and his son, Jon, has held the honor for the past 48 years. His suit weighs in at 70 lbs and takes 5 people to assemble. It has over 32 Roman candles, 12 skyrockets and its adorned head to toe in flashing lights.

Street Events & Diamond Hitch Downtown Parade

We close out the carnival with the last of the street events and then the grand finale is the  Diamond Hitch Downtown Parade. Anyone can join in, but each parade participant must be pulled on skis by an animal, car or a cowboy. Do not miss seeing the only high school band  (in the country) perform its marching band repertoire on skis.

Entry for Winter Carnival is a $10 button. All proceeds benefit the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club. Be sure to wear your button to all events. If you’re caught without one, legend has it you’ll have to push a peanut down the main street with your nose!

As a Moving Mountains’ guest, we can procure your buttons ahead of time, book your post-night extravaganza dinner or parade lunch at Steamboat’s poshest restaurants and make sure we whisk you back to your chalet, at any of the events, before your toes get cold! Our homes at the Olympian provide some of the best places to watch the fireworks. If you’ve never been to Steamboat during Winter Carnival, what are you waiting for?