Winter in Vail is a fantastic time to visit, particularly for a signature event. The villages’ Bavarian-inspired buildings look like frosted gingerbread houses blanketed in snow and the legendary slopes are primed for skiing and snowboarding. Plus, there are a slew of exciting happenings like the Vail Kris Kringle Market, Vail Film Festival, Vail Skating Festival, Vail NYE Torchlight Ski-Down Parade and more.
Don’t miss out on outstanding Vail events at any time of year by checking out our Vail events calendar.
In this mountain town, winter comes early and stays late — as does Vail ski season — with snowflakes falling and transforming Vail Mountain into a winter wonderland. Join us in November as we kick-off ski season with our annual celebration, Revely Vail. Be one of the first powder hounds to shred down the slopes and revel in free, family-oriented activities throughout the villages. Get your groove on at the Vail Après Revely Concert Series with live music and watch elite ice skaters perform dazzling exhibitions. Let your creativity shine at art workshops and start the holiday season with the Lionshead Holiday Tree Lighting, featuring live music and a special, jolly guest clad in red.
Vail Film Festival
The Vail Film Festival is a paradise for cinephiles and budding cinematic creatives. With everything from screenplay readings and independent film screenings to panels with industry greats, each day promises to be unforgettable. Submit your own work or just grab some popcorn and watch documentaries, short films and narrative features created by talented individuals — and be on the lookout for celebrities. Past festivals have included attendees such as Emmy-award winning director Jaclyn Bethany, “Clerks” creator Kevin Patrick Smith, award-winning filmmaker Mylissa Fitzsimmons and actors Sophia Bush, Josh Lucas and Kate Bosworth.
Vail Kris Kringle Market
For a few magical days in December, the streets of Vail Village — near the International Bridge — are taken over by the Vail Kris Kringle Market. It’s a European-style holiday market where crisp mountain air mingles with the scent of steaming hot chocolate and glühwein (German mulled wine). The streets are festooned with greenery and glittering lights, while holiday music drifts between vendor stalls. The whole family will relish the merry atmosphere munching on holiday treats, watching live musical performances, attending kids’ activities and browsing artisanal, made-in-Colorado items.
Feel the spirit of the season come to life as the Vail and Lionshead villages become decked out in twinkling lights, fluffy garlands and bright-green wreaths. Vail Holidays offers a plethora of festive, family-friendly and mostly free events including a holiday market, tree-lighting ceremony and the Holiday Sweater Run — so don’t forget to pack your best ugly sweater. Be sure to stop by Kringle Crossing, a sweet mini, Vail-inspired village — and Vail Holidays’ latest addition — right in the heart of town.
10th Mountain Legacy Parades
On select nights, you can experience a moving tribute to the elite ski troopers of World War II with the 10th Mountain Legacy Parades. Events feature a Torchlight Ski Down by skiers in traditional 10th Mountain Division Ski Trooper uniforms, followed by a parade of veterans, current service members and local community groups. Trained at nearby Camp Hale, the 10th Mountain Division Ski Troopers were the Army’s first and only mountain infantry division. Join us in honoring the enduring spirit of these brave soldiers and their impact on both the nation and the sport of skiing.
Vail Skating Festival’s Ice Spectacular
From gravity-defying jumps to hypnotic twists and spins, Vail Skating Festival’s Ice Spectacular at Dobson Ice Arena is a dazzling ice-skating show you won’t want to miss. With 90 minutes of high-energy ice entertainment, popular holiday-themed music and a star-studded skating cast, you and your family will be glued to your seats. Previous cast members have included Olympic-gold medalist Nathan Chen; the first American woman to land a triple axel at the Olympics, Mirai Nagasu; and the Olympic dance duo Jean-Luc Baker and Kaitlin Hawayek. Get your tickets, along with VIP meet-and-greet opportunities, while they last.
Vail NYE Torchlight Ski-Down Parade
Celebrate New Year’s Eve Vail-style with entertaining activities and cheerful vibes as we get ready to ski in the new year at the Vail NYE Torchlight Ski-Down Parade. The highlight of the event comes when a parade of skiers lights up the mountainside with flares, twisting and turning their way down Golden Peak in a glowing train. Afterward, stick around as we paint the night sky with a vivid firework display full of glitter and bursts of red, orange and purple.
In mid-winter, Gore Creek Promenade in Vail Village transforms into an elegant garden of ice sculptures created in collaboration by artists Ben Roth, Paul Wertin and his team from Alpine Ice. Each year, Vail Winterfest brings a new theme and dazzling new sights with previous designs including life-sized polar bears and ice lanterns influenced by our friendship cities in Japan, Mexico and Switzerland. Explore the sculptures during the day or catch them lit up in all their glory at night.
Steadman Clinic Vail Cup
The Steadman Clinic Vail Cup is a series of events offering young skiers and snowboarders of all abilities the opportunity to compete and show off their skills. Cheer on your star athlete as they make sharp turns, land aerial jumps and schuss to the bottom in exciting events, like the giant slalom race, mogul, slopestyle and big mountain. Events take place throughout Vail’s extended winter season, so there are several opportunities to join in. Participants also get a keepsake bib to wear as they compete.
Insider Tips for Visiting Vail in the Winter
Bring your warmest boots and puffer jacket: Whether you’re skiing and snowboarding on the slopes or perusing the holiday market, you’ll want to bundle up. That means sporting a pair of warm, waterproof boots, plus a cozy puffer jacket and a layer or two in between.
Secure your spot ahead of time: Many people come to experience Vail’s enchanting winter atmosphere, especially during the holiday season. So, if you have something on your Vail bucket list, like a family sleigh ride or an ice-climbing session, be sure to book your spot in advance.
Make in-the-village travel easy: Vail and Lionshead villages are pedestrian-friendly with several no-car areas. If you can, leave your car at home or in one of the free parking areas provided by the Town of Vail, and hop on the free, year-round bus service available to residents and guests. Buses provide transport to and from Vail Mountain and throughout town.
Vail hotels: Plan your Vail visit for the early ski season for more space on the slopes, special Vail events and plenty of early season deals on private residences, premium condos and luxury hotel rooms when you book direct.
Village dining: Vail is a popular winter destination, and many village restaurants can get booked up; if you have a favorite one in mind, call ahead and reserve your seating.
More Resources to Help Plan Your Vail Trip
● New to Vail? Try this guide to plan your upcoming winter trip.
● Get your dream Vail winter vacation — even if you don’t ski or snowboard.
● Make the most of your kids’ winter break with these outdoor activities.
● Check out this seven-day itinerary for winter in Vail vacation ideas.
● Start planning your summer vacation with these annual Vail summer events.
● Get ahead on planning and see what Vail fall events you won’t want to miss.