Events for Everyone!
While most resorts offer events designed for out-of-towners, Steamboat’s line-up draws locals and guests year after year for its good, old-fashioned fun. If your vacation coincides with one, fit it into your plans. Following are a few of our favorites:
Dec. 16-17: Mascot Stampede
Dec. 31: New Year’s Eve Torchlight Parade and Fireworks
Jan. 5-10: Music Fest at Steamboat
Jan. 16: 43rd Annual Cowboy Downhill
Feb. 8-12: Winter Carnival: A unique Steamboat celebration of winter, with the world’s only marching band on skis
Feb. 23-26: Winter Wondergrass concert
Jan. 16; March 11, 18, 26; April 1, 8, 15, 16: Bud Light Rocks the Boat concert series: free concerts at the Steamboat Ski Area stage
April 15-16: Cardboard Classic and Splashdown Pond Skim: an end-of-season tradition filled with revelry (costumes encouraged)
Steamboat’s beloved Cowboy Downhill recently celebrated its 40th anniversary, and it’s still going as strong and slaphappy as ever. The annual event entices some of the best rodeo athletes in the world to trade their cowboy boots for ski boots and race head to head in a dual-slalom race at the bottom of Steamboat Ski Area. The fun-filled event also features cowboys lassoing a ski hostess and saddling a horse, as well as racing in the grand finale, winner-take-all, Le Mans-style Stampede. The event starts with public festivities and live music in Gondola Square, with the race on Headwall and an awards ceremony following at Bear River Bar & Grill. The event was founded by Billy Kidd, Steamboat’s director of skiing, and six-time all around world rodeo champion Larry Mahan in 1974. This year’s event is slated for Jan. 16.
Steamboat’s Ski Town USA nickname was coined by a Chicago newspaper writer after watching the local high school marching band perform on skis during the Winter Carnival. The ski band tradition continues to this day, as does the well-deserved nickname. The band’s annual performance comes in early February every year during Winter Carnival, a perfect blend of Steamboat’s Western roots and ski town lifestyle. Originally organized by Carl Howelsen, a Norwegian who introduced locals to skiing and ski jumping in the early 1900s, the carnival started in 1914 as a mid-winter celebration to help locals break up the monotony of winter. It continues to be one of the town’s most popular events for locals and visitors. If you’re here Feb. 8 to 12 this year, head down to Lincoln Avenue for the parade and street events and to Howelsen Hill for more festivities. Visit sswsc.org for more information.
The Lighted Man makes his electrifying appearance in Steamboat every Winter Carnival (this year Feb. 8 to 12), lighting up slopes and spirits as he schusses down Howelsen Hill in a customized suit that would do Iron Man proud. Started in 1936 by Claudius Banks, the original Lighted Man began with a 100-pound suit with 200 lights powered by wet cells and yards of wiring. Today, Jon Banks continues his father’s tradition with an updated suit. Powered by a 12-volt DC battery, it includes lights strung on skis, poles, legs and torso, and a helmet-mounted metal cylinder studded with additional flashing lights. For more punch, he packs a customized backpack fit with 32 Roman candles and 12 sky rockets that he launches between turns.
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Legendary “jamgrass” band Leftover Salmon returns to town this Saturday, Jan. 29, taking the stage at Strings Music Festival for a spirited evening.