A skiing and snowboarding season brings with it more than just time on the slopes, though that is most certainly the primal lure. Mountain resorts offer a whole range festivals and carnivals as that "value added" that beckons you to their slopes. Here are some samples of events across the land.
Perhaps the most well-known of all is the annual Sundance Film Festival in Park City Utah. It's set for Jan. 20-30, 2011. Some 200 films from among 9,000 submissions are chosen each year, including documentaries, dramatic, and short films. Crowds that usually top 40,000 people attended attend the festival, including many celebrities as well as the filmmakers.
Films are previewed in Park City, Salt Lake City, Ogden, and Sundance, Utah. Anyone can, of course, view the films, but there is so much more going on during that time -- music performances, panel discussions with leading industry figures and filmmakers, stargazing, and late night parties.
You don't even need to be on the "A" list to at least rub elbows with the celebrities, either.
"There are a few places where Sundance meets Park City," says OnTheSnow's Southwest Editor Jill Adler, who covers the fest each January for our readers. Here are her suggestions on where to see and be seen.
For dining: Prime Steakhouse, Blind Dog, Wahso, and Shabu. For people watching: The Leaf Lounge, Entertainment Weekly Café at The Kimball Art Center, and the Ray-Ban Rock Bar. The hot events during the second weekend of Sundance are the ZonePerfect concerts. If you can score a pass, invite, name on the list, go.
Don't miss the Festival's Music on Main event, Adler says. "It's free and open to the general public, as lower Main transforms into a block party one night."
The Tahoe Adventure Film Festival at South Lake Tahoe will be presented in December 2010 at the Montbleu Resort Casino. The festival highlights the best adventure sports films of the year, featuring some of the best action sports world talent around. There are also special guest speakers, displays and, as the promoters say, "a few special surprises."
The festival showcases the top 10 films worldwide and each chosen filmmaker puts together a 10-12 minute clip or segment premiered at the festival. The full films are available for sale if you like what you see. Some of the action includes skiing, rock climbing, and kayaking.
You could be in for a special treat if you're in Park City from Jan. 11-17, 2011 when the Orion Independent Music Festival returns for its second run. Various genres of music, including rock, pop, jazz, R&B, country, and hip hop, will perform in several Park City venues. Consider it a warm-up act for Sundance, but it rocks on its own.
The mission of the Festival is to expose unsigned music acts much like Sundance does for filmmakers, according to creator Steffon Olsen, a Salt Lake City musician. People can pay at the door for individual showcases or purchase a festival "bracelet" which allows access to all venues. Your ski or snowboard day is handy. Just head up the gondola at Heavenly.
Ullr, if you know your mythology, is the winter god in Norse fantasy, who loves the cold and travels over the country on his skis or skates. Events include a skating party; Nordic party and bonfire at which the Ullr King and Queen are crowned; the Dating Game for those over 21 years of age; Ullympics, during which co-ed teams compete for fun and prizes; comedy night with B.T.; and the Chilly Chili Cook Off.
The highlight of the Fest is a parade where anyone can enter a float or parade entry at no cost. The parade generally attracts some 12,000 participants and bystanders. Ullr Fest is sponsored by the Breckenridge Resort Chamber.
The Stowe Winter Carnival at Stowe Mt. Resort in Northern Vermont is considered by many to be the granddaddy of all these kinds of celebrations and this one might even entice Ullr to personally attend. This is the 37th year and it occurs Jan. 17-29, 2011. There are a number of events such as snow golf, ski races, a kids carnival, snow volleyball, village night family block party and lots of live music Fun for the whole family and free for all spectators.
The highlight of the event is the ice carving exhibition and competition. This is some seriously cool artwork. The Winter Carnival was created by Craig O. Burt, to help bring the people in town during periods of economic and winter doldrums. It was suspended during the war years, but brought back to life in 1974 by community locals.
Head down south to Sugar Mountain Ski Resort in North Carolina for their eighth annual SugarFest weekend, Dec. 11-12, 2010. It's a weekend of fun that coincides with their pre-season adult ski clinic, including 1994 Olympic Gold and 1992 Olympic Silver medalist Diann Roffe, two-time Olympian Krista Schmidinger, and 2010 U.S, National Super G Champ Keely Kelleher. Or if snow's not your thing, try ice - ice skating that is with 1992 Olympic Figure Skating silver medalist Paul Wylie. You can demo new ski and snowboard equipment, enter the snowball eating contest, watch fireworks, check out the World/Burton Rail Jam Expression Session, and enjoy food and music during the weekend festivities.
You will certainly uncover many more festivals and winter carnivals in your mountain resort travels. Be sure and tell us all about them by using the comment box.