Ready, set, shotski. Skiers, boarders, and snow lovers alike filled the streets of the charming alpine town known as Breckenridge, Colorado. There was an exciting chill in the air as festival-goers in Viking hats held their spiked hot chocolate close to keep warm. The massive crowd belted out in unison, “Ullr, Ullr, Ullr.” Everyone could feel that snow was on the way, along with a night full of wintery festivities. I celebrated the Norse god of snow at Ullr Fest, and it was unlike anything I've ever experienced before. What is Ullr Fest? Well, I have a tale for you.
Wednesday, Jan. 9 through Saturday, Jan. 12 marked Ullr Fest 2019 in Breckenridge, Colorado. Each year, over 12,000 people flock to the heart and soul of this beautiful winter wonderland in early January to celebrate the Norse god of snow, Ullr. According to Go Breck, Ullr Fest is a tradition that has been going strong for 56 years, but its roots date back hundreds of years ago.
The legend goes that every winter, this Norwegian god of snow would drop a blanket of snow across the Earth to shield it from harm, according to Go Breck. He was incredibly fast and skilled on his skis, and loved to explore the land on them — for fun and to hunt. The legend continues that Ullr's travels led him to Breckenridge, where he apparently settled down. Supposedly, Ullr didn't teach any of the other gods how to ski. (So basically, he was the literal real MVP/ruler of the slopes.) The town of Breckenridge keeps up this "trademark" tradition of honoring Ullr by hosting this festival each and every year, according to Blog.Breckenridge.com.
Now, let's get to the party. Some of the most highly-anticipated events that happen annually at Ullr Fest — all in honor of this god of snow — include: the Main Street Parade, Breckenridge Distillery record-breaking attempt, and Ullr bonfire. I was invited to Breckenridge this year to see some of the festivities unfold for myself.
If you've only considered festivals to be a summer kind of affair, I hate to break it to you, but you're incredibly wrong. Grab your Viking hat and your skis, because I'm sure Ullr Fest will be at the very top of your bucket list once you're finished reading this.
Even though I'm not a Breckenridge local, the festival sure made me feel like one; it emanated a true sense of community. I honestly felt like this cozy ski town was my home away from home.
Travelers from across the globe and locals alike came together to celebrate Ullr for four whole days, and bond over their love of snow, winter, spirits, the slopes, and keeping traditions alive. My favorite part of the festival (and quite possibly one of my favorite new traditions) was scoring a VIP spot on Ullr's shotski.
Although there are many more activities to get involved in at the Fest — including the bonfire which I attended later on that evening — the shotski is one of the main draws, and makes for an Insta that's cooler than ice.
I'll be honest: The town of Breck really knows what's good, because this massive shotski lived up to the hype. For those of you who haven't taken a shotski with your friends at a bar before, it's literally a ski with a few shots lined up on it. Everyone lifts up the single ski, and takes their shots together. It's the best kind of team effort, in my opinion. For those of you who have taken a shotski before, you would be amazed to see the size of this particular one at Ullr Fest.
People from across the globe travel to experience this incredible sight for themselves, and it's clear as to why. This year, 1,299 people lined up to take their shot across not one, but 433 skis, spanning 2,304 ft, as provided by the Breckenridge mountain team.
Everyone lined up behind their designated place on the shotski, poured their shot, lifted up the seemingly never-ending ski in unison... and bottoms were up!
It was a magnetic feeling lifting up the shotski with everyone on Main Street, then taking a shot to cheers to Ullr. (Fun fact: The shots all have velcro bottoms to stick right onto the shotski, so you don't have to worry about alcohol spilling all over your face.)
I highly recommend booking a spot on next year's shotski to have this bucket list experience for yourself. (It costs $10 for a spot, and tickets can be purchased at GoBreck.com in advance that season.)
In my opinion, one of the saddest days of the year is when you take down the Christmas tree and holiday decorations. The glitzy garlands, shiny big red bows, ornaments, and fairy lights are put into boxes, and the tree is left on the sidewalk waiting for pickup, feeling sad AF. (You can call me a sap, because I always tear up a bit.) But when I headed to the Ullr bonfire the beginning of January, my spirits were lifted. The bonfire at Ullr Fest serves as a gathering to dispose your Christmas trees with pride, and it turns into a huge celebration. A big bonfire lit up South Gondola Parking Lot, as music played and locals sent off their trees in style. I mean, Christmas trees bring us joy all season long, so they deserve to be sent off with a party, right?
Well, between the shotski, cheering, and bonfire partying, Ullr definitely heard us celebrating. I kid you not — he blessed the evening with the most beautiful snowfall.
If you've ever wondered what life would be like inside a snowflake — as it is in Whoville from The Grinch — my experience at Ullr Fest was something that I believe to be quite similar to the real deal.
If The Grinch is one of your favorite holiday movies, you know how the film wrapped up. The Whos all came together in the center of town and gathered around the Christmas tree. Snow gently fell while they held hands, singing and swaying back and forth.
People danced down the sidewalks, toasted with friends, and snapped pictures by evergreen trees clad in sparkly fairy lights. The entire town was abuzz, spreading the happiest vibes through the streets and all the way to the mountain peaks. It's clear our celebrating paid off, because Ullr heard us. He blessed us with the most stunning snowfall (which, might I add, made the slopes prime real estate the following day).