The Snowdown Breakdown: The History and Highlights of Durango’s Most Outlandish Event    

Durango’s mid-winter festival is anything but glib. In fact, it’s the opposite. One of the largest winter festivals in all of Colorado, this little town pulls out all the stops for the nearly 40-year-old event. And this year’s theme (listen up you Star Wars lovers), “Durangalactic Snowdown,” is sure to attract an especially passionate crowd.

Originally founded in 1979 as a desperate attempt to bring something bright and festive to the short, dark days of winter, the festival has grown exponentially. And, while each year brings new events and some events die-off, the classics hold strong and creative new ones take root. The end result is a lively, outlandish and unforgettable five days packed with more than 100 unique events. From racy fashion shows to winter sporting contests, balloon ascensions, and parades, beer pong, arm-wrestling, and trivia, Snowdown offers a little something for everyone.

Snowdown winter festival in Durango.

Snowdown in Durango, the hot air balloons in force. Photo courtesy of DATO.

 For the Gateway crew, these are the highlights:

“My favorite thing is decorating myself with costume accessories and grabbing a couple of drinks in town prior to going to the Follies, if we were lucky enough to score tickets!” – co-owner, Lori Moss

Bruce Moss (co-owner) has two favorites: 1) the waiter/waitress race (a high-speed and generally messy obstacle race) and; 2) the light parade where thousands line the street at night.

For Carrie Lyons, it’s all about the costumes: “Costumes that have to fit a theme are much more creative than the same old witch or mummy you see every Halloween”

And for Amy VanBuskirk: “My favorite thing about Snowdown is trivia night with my girlfriends at a participating bar and the parade with the kids!”

Snowdown Parade in Durango, CO

The much loved Snowdown Parade. Photo courtesy of DATO.


For more tips about family-friendly or must-see Snowdown events, or to find a hotel nearby or far away from the festivities, give us a call.