Cripple Creek Ice Fest Celebrates Inaugural Weekend

Big Crowds Expected for Final Days of Popular Colorado Event

Rick Langenberg

The Cripple Creek Ice Festival has arrived, and the popular festival is bracing for a grand finish, courtesy of a quality Teller County has lacked for much of the last month: sunny weather.

The opening weekend was well received, according to preliminary reports. Statistics have not yet been finalized regarding crowd counts, but the 2024 Ice Fest is definitely on par with previous years.

This week more of the ice masterpieces are nearing the completion stage, and the weather conditions appear promising. If history repeats itself, this week should generate huge crowds, as the final week often produces more visitors due to the finished quality of the ice works and the popularity of many of the competitions, capped by the final day ceremonies.

The 21st-year running of the event, which kicked off on Feb. 17, will continue through Feb. 25.  Organizers are expecting thousands to frequent the gaming community this week, often regarded as the prime time for viewing the festival. The event, rated as one of the most popular winter bashes in Colorado, and a top local festival, showcases many fun activities for the whole family. Similar to past years, the larger-than-life ice sculptures line parts of Bennett Avenue, which will include an ice slide.

The festival features plenty of food vendors and retail vendors along Bennet Avenue throughout the weekend. Plus, this Saturday and Sunday, the final days of festival, event-goers (21 and over) will have the opportunity to purchase adult beverages.

Special Note: Today (Tuesday, Feb. 20), the festival will be closed to the public for an ice delivery.

During the festival, the Ice Castle attraction will still be open in Cripple Creek during the duration of the event.  Tickets are available for purchase at

Moreover, the Ice Castles company has brought one of their very own ice carvers to participate in the festival. They are creating interactive ice exhibits that people can sit, climb on, and pose with. According to city officials, “this will usher in a unique type of ice carving that will be fun for people of all ages.”

This year, event organizers have brought back the infamous “Battle of the Blade” carver vs carver competitions. These contests have two carvers competing live for a cash prize.

The carvers picked to participate in these competitions are given a theme, and then are expected to complete a carving within 30 minutes in front of the audience. The winner gets a cash prize after all the sculptures are assessed by our secret judges. The remaining Battle of the Blade competitions will be held at noon, 1:30 and 3 p.m. on February 24.

The Cripple Creek Ice Festival also has an interactive competition between carvers with the main carvings on Bennett Avenue. Event attendees vote on their favorite sculptures using a QR code throughout the whole festival. The votes get totaled up on the final day, and the winning team gets a $5,000 cash prize.

The winner of the overall sculpture competition will be announced on Sunday, February 25th at 1 p.m. The return of the Ice Fest, which occurred last year after a lengthy hiatus, has been well received by locals and out-of-town visitors.

“We are very excited about the return of the Ice Festival this year. It is one of the most attended events in Cripple Creek and it greatly benefits our community,” said Cripple Creek Mayor Annie Durham, in a press release, just prior to opening weekend. “We are also looking forward to Ice Castles participating in the Ice Carving event. It is going to be a great Ice Festival this year!”

In fact, representatives of the Ice Castles group reportedly got interested in locating their attraction in Cripple Creek after viewing last year’s festival in the gaming community. In a town meeting, Ice Castles representatives stated they were impressed by the quality of the sculptures and the crowd sizes. They vowed to participate in this year’s event.

In 2000, Cripple Creek began hosting the Ice Festival and it became an annual event and a highlight of winter activities in Teller County, and even a festival that gained statewide distinction. As far as special events, the festival garnered strong support throughout the entire county.

This event has always been popular for locals and visitors alike. In the annual Best Of Cripple Creek survey, hosted by TMJ News, the Cripple Creek Ice Fest has been rated as one of the region’s top festivals. It definitely provides the local community with a needed winter boost.

The festival had a three-year hiatus during the COVID-19 pandemic and returned in 2023 “with a bang.” City officials say the 21-year event has been flooded with support and interest this year.

The event is jointly funded by the city and the gaming community and other key sponsors.