You don’t want to miss these one-of-a-kind free spring parties at Colorado slopes
By Shauna Farnell
We can all agree that prime time for Colorado’s ski season is upon us. Base depths are deep (bottomless in some places), every corner of every resort is open for exploration and our ski and snowboard legs are conditioned for days on end of high angle turns. The only thing that can make a day on the slopes any better is if there happens to be a big party afoot. As it turns out, spring party season is about to go into full swing. Here are the top free festivals for your hit list.
Feb. 28 – March 1 at Copper Mountain, March 27-29 at Eldora
It turns out that Colorado is not the only place that loves Subaru. Subaru Winterfest now travels coast to coast, having just made its inaugural appearance at Killington, VT, delivering a weekend of revelry in the form of free live music, gear demos, swag, s’mores roasting and an entire base area of happy people who love the outdoors. Yes, Subaru gravitates to places with their priorities straight. The Winterfest obviously celebrates all things beloved in Colorado – not only Subarus, but mountains, nature, outdoor activity, dogs and general good livin.’ Winterfest returns to Copper Mountain Feb. 28 – March 1 with free live music from Kind Hearted Strangers, The Lil Smokies and Fruition, then hits Eldora March 27-29 with live music by Twiddle and Horseshoes & Hand Grenades. Expect an impressive amount of swag, plus games, free gear demos and daily high-end give-a-ways (think skis, boards, bikes and even Harmon Kardon speakers).
While you’re at it … Keep an eagle eye out for the Burrito Patrol. Two words … Free. Burritos.
March 17 – 27 Aspen Snowmass
Some iteration of this festival has been happening at Aspen Snowmass for the last 20 years and naturally, it’s breaking out its big game for 2020. And by games, we mean the libation-oriented variety, kicking off on St. Patrick’s Day with a deck party and industrial-sized versions of your favorites – beer pong, cornhole, speed quarters and Stump – for Ullrhof Games in Snowmass. There are also games that require a bit more in the motor skills department – Helly Hansen 4 Mtn Mission, in which participants collect stamps in a free passport book at various locations across Aspen’s four ski areas for serious prizes. Skiers and snowboarders interested in upping their skills on jumps and rails can sign up for the free Terrain Park Boot Camp before watching the pros throw high-flying spins in the KickAspen Big Air contest. The party culminates with a free concert at Ajax starring former OutKast member, seven-time GRAMMY winner and hip-hop icon Big Boi.
While you’re at it … If you are a snowboarder who loves speed, you should try your skills in the Slash the Mass Banked Slalom fundraiser.
Steamboat Springs April 1-12
As the ski season moves into April and the days get warmer (unless, of course, the deep powder continues to pile up … always a possibility), Colorado’s No. 1 slush-related celebration can be found at Steamboat Resort. Many ski areas have some form of competition in which cold-blooded skiers and riders attempt to splash across an icy pool of water, but the Boat’s Splashdown Pond Skim is next level … everyone is wearing a zany costume and the comedy value is off the charts. While such competitions have fallen by the wayside in other places, Steamboat’s Cardboard Classic (in which teams race down the slopes in silly crafts made from cardboard) is celebrating its 40th anniversary. It all unfolds to a soundtrack of Bud Light Rocks the Boat Free Concert Series, starring Bonfire Dub on April 4 and The Lil Smokes April 11.
While you’re at it … If you don’t have a Steamboat or Ikon Pass, you can land a Springalicious pass good for three days of skiing/riding for $179.
Breckenridge April 1-5
Break out your rainbow flags, people. This all-inclusive, on-mountain and in-town party brings days of live music, DJs, dancing, après specials and Drag Queen bingo. Oh yes, there’s a parade, too, from the top of Peak 9 to the bottom, with a giant rainbow flag as its centerpiece. Following the welcome party April 1, Pride pass holders can meet on the mountain daily for a guided ski experience with others who ski/ride at the same level. Several local restaurants offer specials for Pride participants (happy hour all night!) and late night cocktail and dance parties abound. Breck Pride has grown every year with locals and visitors of all backgrounds and ages partaking in the good vibes.
While you’re at it … stop by Coppertop Bar at Beaver Run Resort, the epicenter of the après party from 3 to 6 p.m.
April 8 and 11 Arapahoe Basin
Anyone who’s spent a spring day hanging out at The Beach at A-Basin knows that it’s a party here every day. However, 2020 marks the 31st anniversary of the Enduro & Aprés Party, in which teams of two (and thighs of steel) take turns charging some of the Basin’s steepest, most rugged terrain without stopping from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. on April 8. Afterwards, everyone unwinds with live music, drinks and a top-line Italian dinner. Every year, the Enduro sells out in seconds, but a few years ago, the Basin launched an Enduro Light. This less intense event allows participants to tackle terrain throughout the ski area at their own pace, marking each accomplishment off of a passport. All proceeds for each even benefit select local residents with dire medical needs.
While you’re at it … buy a chairlift. A specimen from the iconic, soon-to-be-replaced Pali Chair is going to be up for grabs in the silent auction.