steamboat winter carnival fmlight

102nd Annual Winter Carnival

The beginning of February is always one of our favorite times of the year because it means that it’s time for the Winter Carnival.

And this years 102nd Annual Winter Carnival was no disappointment.

True to our western tradition, Steamboat cleared out all the vehicles from Lincoln Avenue, covered the road in snow, and let the horses back on main street. Then we lined up for the street events and started skiing, naturally. When the street is covered in snow and traversed by hooves and everyone is wearing or carrying a pair of skis, somehow this place manages to feel even more like home. Our mascot Lightning also loves it because he feels a little less conspicuous when he’s not the only horse on Highway 40.

The reason for all of this, of course, is the street events. While most of the activities can be joined in the spur of the moment , some of them do require pre-registration. The price of admittance is the same for everyone, however; a Winter Carnival button, available for purchase before and during the entire weekend-long celebration, the proceeds from which benefit the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club. And what are these events, you ask? Just fun activities that we’ve come up with over the past 100 years that include some combination of snow, skis, horses, and kids. And kids at heart, of course. Many of our favorite events are the ones that do include horses, such as Ski Joring and the Ring & Spear. There’s just something about the pounding of hooves that adds to the thrill and excitement. But we also enjoy many of the other events as well, such as the three legged races, the dog dash, and the dad dash, because they are just good plain fun.

Now, before we explain more, here are a few pictures we took of the Ski Joring event, just so you get an idea of what exactly we’re talking about:


And a few pictures taken of the Ring & Spear competition:

Of course, a lot more goes on during the Carnival than what we have pictured here. After the street events participants and observers are treated to the Winter Carnival parade, featuring the famous Diamond Hitch ski formation. The black and white picture above is in fact a photo of the Diamond Hitch during one of the first Winter Carnivals. There is also the lighted night show that takes place on Howelsen Hill which includes formation skiing exhibitions by members of the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, the legendary “Lighted Man”, and an always-impressive fireworks display.

The Winter Carnival is a production of the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club (SSWSC), which has a long and prestigious history of its own, helping shape Steamboat’s identity as a genuine western town and also that of “Ski Town USA”. We are very proud to be a part of this heritage, as our participation in the Winter Carnival and support of the SSWSC goes way back, back to the very first Winter Carnival in fact.

At the end of the weekend, when all of the hot chocolate has been drunk and the snow has settled, we are always tuckered out but happy because we’ve had such a good time. And we have a lot of stories to tell which will tide us over until next year. Of course, we are already looking forward to and planning next years Winter Carnival, and if you would like to take part in our celebration we would love to have you join us. Information on 2016’s Winter Carnival can be found here.