Breckenridge is often ranked among Colorado’s prettiest towns, with many of its original buildings that housed hotels, dance halls and saloons, still standing over 150 years after they were built, and in the winter, blanketed in snow, it becomes even more magnificent.
While most people equate Breckenridge with skiing, with it world famous for its ski resort that draws countless visitors to glide down the powdery slopes, there are many other things to do here during the chillier months of the year, including the annual Breckenridge snow sculpture contest.
The International Snow Sculpture Championships has been bringing snow artists from across the globe for over two decades now to compete during the second half of January, transforming Riverwalk Center into a mesmerizing natural art gallery where the medium is snow.
The impressive works of art start out as 12-foot-tall, 25 ton blocks of snow before the teams compete using only hand tools to create the incredible pieces over five days. No power tools, internal support structures or colorants can be used in this unique, one-of-a-kind event which kicks off on January 22 and runs until January 29 in 2018.
If you arrive early, between January 16 and January 21, you can watch as the massive earth movers fill the 10-foot-wide by 12-foot-tall cubes with compacted snow that are built in anticipation of the arrival of the artists. This allows the blocks to settle and compact under their own weight before they’re carved into order to provide a more consistent medium so that the talented sculptors are better able to produce their jaw-dropping designs.
Although no prize money is awarded, the artists come just for the chance to participate in one of the most prestigious snow-sculpting events in the world, with teams gathering in the spirit of camaraderie to create the dazzling works.
In 2017, Team China took the Gold with “Mermaid,” a piece depicting an underwater scene highlighted by a graceful mermaid swimming through the sea. The judging panel noted that the “sculpture pushed the boundaries of the medium with its illusion of movement and delicate form; some of the features could have been made of paper.
Whether or not you plan to ski Brek, coming to this magical snow globe town to support your favorite sculpture with the People’s Choice Vote and discover more about the process of snow sculpting, is pretty much guaranteed to make for an unforgettable escape in the Colorado Rockies.
Sculpting begins at 11 a.m. on January 22 with a shot gun start and ends on January 26 at 10 a.m.
The awards ceremony will take place on January 27 at 2 p.m., with one of the most popular times to visit being the Friday night before the ceremony, as artists prepare to stay up all night to do the detail work.
During viewing weekend, January 28 and 29, the artists will be done with all of their hard work, but the sculptures remain for all to see. It’s an ideal way to spend an evening after a day out on the slopes. They’ll stay up until about 9 p.m. on January 29, before fading away just as magically as they seemed to appear.
For more information, head to GoBreck.com.