For over a century, the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club’s Winter Carnival has been living up to its original purpose: helping Colorado residents deal with the cabin fever brought on by the intense cold of winter. Taking place from Wednesday, February 8 through Sunday, February 12 in various locations throughout Steamboat Springs, the carnival is definitely the most-fun way to shake off the hibernation stiffness and celebrate the best parts of winter.

What is the SSWSC?


The Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club was founded in 1914 in the tiny ski town of Steamboat Springs, Colorado, and is the oldest ski club west of the Mississippi River. Originally founded to be the planning committee for the Winter Carnival, it is now a nonprofit organization providing youth development programming for approximately one thousand young athletes each year. And the program works: SSWSC has produced 88 Olympic athletes who have made 151 Olympic appearances and have brought home 15 Olympic medals!

What’s the Price of Admission?

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In order to gain access to the weird and wonderful events of the Winter Carnival you must purchase a Winter Carnival Button for $10. The button also grants you access to the Howelsen Hill ski slopes during the days of the carnival. And be warned: Volunteers on button duty take their jobs very seriously. According to those in the know, the penalty for being caught without a carnival button in the past was to push a peanut down Lincoln Ave with your nose! Some events also require additional ticketing, so make sure to check the website.

What’s So Cool About It?

cowboy stampede steamboat springs Cowboy Stampede- Mass start of skiing cowboys racing downhill

The Steamboat Springs Winter Carnival is about way more than funnel cakes and fireworks and trying to win a giant stuffed bear for your sweetheart–though it totally does have food stands, a crazy fireworks display, and a parade. Some of the signature events include:

The Steamboat High School Band, which has been “marching” down the street on skis for over 70 years!

The Lighted Man, an actual human being wrapped in twinkle lights and sporting a backpack strapped with Roman candles. He signals the end of Saturday night’s Extravaganza down Howelsen Hill, where Winter Sports Club athletes perform dazzling–and sometimes glow-in-the-dark–feats of prowess.

The Donkey Jump, where contestants attempt to jump off a 2-foot ramp while being pulled on skis by a horse down main street.

The Shovel Race, where contestants situate themselves in a shovel of any type while being pulled by a horse and race down the street.

The Airbag Jam Session, where you can watch Winter Sports Club athletes be launched into the air by a gigantic airbag.

Steamboat Springs Colorado

And if athletics aren’t your thing, fear not! There’s also the Snow Sculpture competition, the Knights of Columbus Pancake Breakfast, and Tito’s Mountain Soiree–a ticketed event that features, food, cocktails, live music, and a bonfire.