Bed-Sled Races, Snow Sculptures, Fireworks Highlight Colorado Mountain Winter Carnivals

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Scenic Winter Park, Grand Lake host mid-winter festivals

Think of North American winter carnivals, and you may think of those in St. Paul (Minn.) or Quebec City (Canada), or of some of the long-standing college events such as those at Dartmouth College or Michigan Technological University. Add to that list of “greats” the Colorado high country’s own winter carnivals in Grand Country, just west of Denver.

Winter Park Winter Carnival (Jan. 22-24, http://www.skiwinterpark.com) – At Winter Park and Mary Jane Ski Resort, the three-day fest includes on-snow activities such as free bump-skiing tips, retail and rental gear specials, an interpretive snowshoe hike, snowskating, human bowling, snow golf, dog sled races, geocaching and a skijoring clinic. Kids can enjoy dog sled rides, a play zone, and campfires with s’mores and hot chocolate.

There’s also a dog agility demonstration and an evening parade down Main Street, followed by fireworks and birthday cake to celebrate Winter Park Resort’s 70th anniversary. In the Grand Park development in nearby Fraser, carnival-goers will find the Grand Park Dog Days of Winter, complete with sled dog races, skijoring (and clinics). A snowshoe race will benefit Grand County Pet Pals, a non-profit organization dedicated to responsible pet ownership, animal health and education programs, and spaying/neutering.

Indoors, the 26th annual Chef’s Cup Dinner Dance will take place the evening of Jan. 22, benefiting the Winter Park Competition Center youth ski and snowboard programs. Visitors can enjoy a pancake breakfast Jan. 23, après-ski events on each day, live music and a silent auction benefitting Grand County Pet Pals.

Grand Lake Winter Carnival (Feb. 6, http://www.grandlakechamber.com) – The carnival, in scenic Grand Lake, features a full day – and evening – of snow- and ice-focused fun. The town, located 100 miles northwest of Denver on the shores of the largest natural lake in Colorado, becomes a snowy wonderland during the winter, with crisp, dry air and crystal-blue skies set against the peaks of the Gore Range.

Local residents and visitors participate in activities that range from the traditional and classic to unusual and even wacky: Attendees will find a snow-sculpture contest, parent-child sled pull, kids’ snowman-building contest, a poker run, and the ever-popular bed-sled races. Sports enthusiasts can participate in a snowshoe race, miniature golfing and flag football in the snow, teapot curling and human bowling (complete with both kids’ and adults’ courses).

In the evening, activities move indoors with Bingo, face-painting for the kids and a Mardi Gras Dance. The event, which is free for all spectators, concludes outdoors with fireworks over the lake.

For additional information on Grand County, events, lodging and other activities, contact the Grand County Tourism Board at http://www.grand-county.com or 800-729-5821.

Media Note: To request photography, interviews or more information, please contact Gaylene Ore, Ore Communications, at 970-887-2536.

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