Brain Freeze: Colorado’s Guide to All Things Ice

Disney’s Frozen may only be in town for a limited time, but there’s no shortage of sparkly frozen spectacles in the Centennial State. From holiday extravaganzas to castles to year-round ice skating, here are some of our favorite places so that — when it comes to the Frozen vibe — you don’t have to sing “Let It Go.”


Nov 2, 2024-Jan 1, 2025

ICE! at Gaylord Rockies

The holidays are a really big deal at Aurora’s enormous Gaylord Rockies, and winter-themed extravaganzas are a signature of the hotel chain. “ICE! has been a tradition at Gaylord Hotels for two decades now,” said General Manager Suzy Hart. The theme changes every year — A Christmas Story last year, A Charlie Brown Christmas in 2023 — but ICE! always has lots of, well, ice. Last year’s frozen spectacle was composed of more than 6,000 massive ice blocks, weighing more than two million pounds.

These larger-than-life ice cubes are worked on over six weeks by carvers who travel more than 5,700 miles from their homes in Harbin, China. Known as “Ice City,” Harbin is home to the world’s largest annual ice and snow sculpting festival in the world. At Gaylord Rockies, some of the same artisans who create the Harbin festival will carve 300-pound blocks of ice into the larger-than-life, whimsical scenes. Carvers use chisels, chippers, tongs, handsaws, grinders and even chainsaws to carve 300-pound blocks of ice into whimsical scenes, bringing each year’s theme to life. Guests don parkas to explore the exhibit, which is kept frozen by a state-of-the-art chilling system that maintains the temperature at nine degrees Fahrenheit.

In addition to ice, ICE! also offers a Cirque du Soleil holiday-themed performance with trapeze artists, acrobats, and aerial silk performers, along with an elf training academy, a Yuletide street market, a gingerbread decorating center and, of course, Santa himself.

Ullr Fest


Jan 20-29, 2025

It’s not Harbin, but every year in late January, teams from around the world descend on the ski resort village of Breckenridge to hand-carve 25-ton blocks of snow into enormous, intricate works of art. No power tools allowed: artists are only allowed to use hand tools, creativity and inspiration to bring their ideas to life. Teams sculpt countless hours across five days (totaling around 94 hours), resulting in a temporary outdoor art gallery in historic downtown Breckenridge.

The official championships started in 1991, but snow sculpting started in Breckenridge in the 1970s, during the town’s annual homage to Ullr, a Norse god associated with snow and skiing. While the championships and Ullr Fest are now held on separate weekends, each free event draws thousands of spectators who revel in winter’s frozen delights.


Ice Festival: Feb 8-10, 2025

Ice Castles: TBD

Ice Castles Colorado

Only 45 minutes from Colorado Springs, the historic mining town of Cripple Creek goes all-out for two weekends each winter to host the Cripple Creek Ice Festival. Previous themes have included Mythological Wonderland, Renaissance, the Old West, and Under the Sea. There are ice slides and ice mazes, food and retail vendors, and an ice bar for enjoying adult beverages while the kids have a hot cocoa. Admission is free.

The mining town is also home to Ice Castles Colorado, where the magic of winter comes alive. The acre-sized castle is built from thousands of carefully grown, harvested, and hand-placed icicles with color-changing LED lights embedded inside the structure, and the attraction also includes ice mazes, ice slides, and a private alcove that’s perfect for proposals or other special events.


The University of Denver’s men’s hockey team, the Pioneers, have won the most all-time NCAA National Hockey Championships — including in 2023/24. DU’s Ritchie Center has two ice rinks which are open to the public at selected times, details can be found here.

Big Bear Ice Arena is a public ice rink in Denver’s Lowry neighborhood. Whether you play hockey, figure skate, need lessons or just want to give ice skating a try, Big Bear is open year round.