Ullr Fest Survival Guide
Celebrating its 54th year, Ullr Fest is one of Breck’s trademark events – a truly community-oriented celebration in which you can always scan the mob of 12,000 partiers and recognize a couple dozen of them under their horned helmets. Wether plunging into the ice-encrusted Maggie Pond, burning an old pair of skis in the massive bonfire, pedaling down the parade route on a fat bike, being pulled along in a kayak or hot tub, partaking in the 200-foot-long shot ski or sipping on a warm brew and vigilantly pivoting out of the path of howling, stumbling Vikings there is something for everyone. Join in on the imploring chants to the Norse God of Snow. This year is the best kind of year to celebrate Ullr – when the streets are lined with building-size piles of snow and the entire landscape is a magical, sparkling white. Ullr is clearly happy with his work this year. We’re all happy. Ullr Fest is a rite of passage that no local or visitor should ever miss. It’s a chance to don your fur vests and viking helmets, party with your friends every night, and literally do your snow dance. But, there are a few things you’ve gotta know to survive Ullr Fest and have the most fun you possibly can. – Shauna Farnell
Ebeth’s Survival Tip #1: Pronounce Ullr CorrectlyUllr is pronounced “Oool-er”. In Norse mythology, Ullr is the winter god. He loved the cold, and delighted in traveling across the country on his skis. So every January, for the last 54 years, Breck locals have celebrated Ullr for good luck, hoping he will bring snow in for a good ski season. We honor the god by wearing our Ullr horns to events every night, closing down Main Street for the infamous Ullr Fest parade, and generally having a good ol’ time with fellow locals and visitors. Local Tip: Find the Official Ullr who can be seen running around town all week in traditional Viking attire and take a selfie with him (and hashtag #breckbecause to get extra local cred!)
Ebeth’s Survival Tip #2: Check the Official Ullr Schedule
Ullr Fest is a multi-day event, and each year it’s a little different. You may want to break a world record at the World’s Longest Shot Ski (777 participants last year!), or take the kids skating with Ullr at the Ice Skating Party, so check the schedule ahead of time and make sure you don’t miss out on any fun: http://www.gobreck.com/events/ullr-fest. One of my favorite events is Breck’s Got Talent, hosted by KSMT ‘The Mountain’. This all ages event kicks off Ullr Fest on Wednesday, January 11th at the Riverwalk Center, and showcases local musicians and dancers as they compete for $1000 in cash. Cheer on these talented locals and help judges vote for the best performance!
Ebeth’s Survival Tip #3: Get your horns!
Some Ullr Fest events are great for kids and some are 21+, but all have one thing in common – everyone is wearing Ullr horns! Don’t be left out – get yours! Come to an official Ullr Fest event, and someone will probably hand you a promotional Viking hat. Or be proactive, and shop for your horns at the Breckenridge Welcome Center (203 S. Main Street). If you are really lucky, you can have a crafty artist friend decorate you a special Ullr helmet, which you will keep forever and ever, and pull out once a year for this special occasion. Local Tip: Viking helmets at the Breckenridge Welcome Center are just $10 and make a great souvenir!
Ebeth’s Survival Tip #4: Don’t miss the Ullr Parade & Town Bonfire
If you want to see a town get rowdy, come down to Breck Main Street at 4:30pm on Thursday, January 12th for the Ullr Fest Parade & Town Bonfire, the marquee event of Ullr Fest. Main Street is closed down, and visitors line the streets to catch beads and candy as the parade of Ullr floats goes by. This is an all ages event, but definitely has a Mardi Gras feel. Locals dance in costumes atop elaborate homemade floats, and cheer on their favorite Norse god. Then everyone heads back to the South Gondola lot for the Town Bonfire. Trust me, this is one big fire you don’t want to miss. Local Tip: Drop your Christmas tree off at the bonfire site earlier that day and watch it burn!
So if you want the authentic Breckenridge experience, with a town that comes alive, plan to visit Breck during Ullr Fest and you’ll come home with great pictures and even better stories. You’ll find long time locals whooping it up with visitors, chanting “Ullr, Ullr, Ullr!”, and everyone’s having a good time – especially when it snows!! – Elizabeth Miller
Here are some other tips for appeasing the Norse God of snow:
Plan or no plan?
My plan every Ullr fest is no plan! The celebration of this Norse winter god is a great excuse to trust your pagan instincts and do as you wish. Main Street shuts down for cars and is packed with people wearing horned Ullr hats and lots of fur…the braver (or more inebriated) will go bare-chested or just wear a fur bra. I like to head to Main Street with a warm beverage to sip on as I check out all the ridiculous floats in the parade. – Carol Saade
Celebrated since 1963, Ullr Fest is quintessential Breck – we love to throw a party, and what better reason than to honor the Norse god of snow and winter! A wild and raucous few days, Ullr Fest is one of my favorite Breck traditions. If this is your first Ullr Fest, put the parade on your to-do list and be prepared to party with 12,000 of your new best friends. This is not your average parade: Expect to see folks dressed in their best Viking costumes, dogs pulling bikes, people riding empty kegs, and everyone getting crazy on incredibly imaginative floats.
If breaking a world record is on your life’s bucket list, you can participate in the World’s Longest Shot Ski competition before the parade starts. Last year, 800 people drank from a shot ski over 1,200 feet long! The 21-and-over crowd can sign-up to participate at the Riverwalk Center any time after 12 PM on parade day. The shots go down at 4:15 PM. The parade kicks-off at 4:30PM, but the sidewalks quickly fill up with people. Plan to get to Main Street early so you can get a front-row spot – if you’ve got kids, they’ll want to be as close as possible to pick up candy thrown from the floats. And even though you’ll see plenty of people scantily clad in fur bikinis, you’ll still want to dress warm. If you’re staying on a bus route, definitely take the bus to the parade; that way you won’t have to worry about parking or driving home after you’ve truly gotten into the Ullr spirit. Don’t forget that altitude can impact the effects of alcohol on our bodies, so make sure you’re well hydrated before and after the festivities. – Jess Hoover