For 104 years Steamboat Springs has celebrated the spirit of winter with an annual carnival. This carnival gets people out of the house, relieves cabin fever and allows Coloradoans—and wannabe Coloradans— of every shape and size to experience several out of the ordinary events.

Running between Wednesday, February 8 and Sunday, February 12, the carnival is a great way to spend an afternoon, a weekend or even several days away from home, work or school— the perfect stay-cation.

Photo by Rory B. Clow photography and courtesy of Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club on Facebook.

The Steamboat Springs Winter Carnival is the oldest continuing winter carnival west of the Mississippi and is historically held every year in the second week in February— regardless of Mother Nature’s weather forecast. The City Public Works department covers Lincoln Avenue with more than 400 pounds of snow before 6 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday. The activities bring people together to celebrate the season and enjoy the company of others— more than 8,000 others— in attendance.

The Steamboat Springs Winter Carnival is known for its yearly tradition of less than traditional events. Adults stand on horse-drawn shovels, skiers jump through fiery hoops, skate skiers race down the snow-covered Lincoln Avenue and more. 

The horses used in the events are specifically shod with cleats to maintain traction in the snow. The riders are key in making the events engaging and exciting for both the spectators and the participants.

Photo courtesy of Skican Ltd. on Facebook.

A man named Jon Banks is at the center of one of the most thrilling events of the carnival. Since 1970, Banks has been known in Steamboat as The Lighted Man— a human fireworks show. He cruises down Howelsen Hill on skis while sporting a 70-pound suit powered by a 12-volt D.C. recombination battery and laden with 32 Roman candles, 12 sky rockets and a metal cylinder mounted on a flashing light studded football helmet.

Winter Carnival buttons are $10 and are required for participation and admission to all events and some events require additional tickets. The buttons also provide free skiing and lift tickets to Howelsen Hill February 8-12. In previous years, patrons caught without a pin were penalized by having to push a peanut down Lincoln Avenue with their nose.

Photo by Rory B. Clow and courtesy of Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club on Facebook.

Several events allow for same-day registration, but if you’re interested in registering for any others, make sure you apply before February 3, here.

There is something for everyone— whether you want to participate in the events or are more comfortable keeping your feet solidly on the ground as a spectator— the carnival is sure to peak your interest and get your adrenaline pumping.

For a full schedule, list of events and more information, visit Steamboat Springs Winter Carnival at their website.

About The Author

Holly Graham is a motorcycle riding, world traveling, innovative storyteller and photographer. She graduated from Colorado State University with degrees in Journalism and Media Communication as well as Languages, Literatures and Cultures with a concentration in Spanish. She enjoys hanging out with her two dogs, Wiley and Falcon, and her cat, Sprout. Check out more of Holly's work at hollygrahammedia.com.

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