Today, some time a little after noon, a king and queen will be crowned — appropriately enough at the St. Regis Aspen Resort — and the 68th annual Wintersköl will officially begin. It’s Aspen’s yearly celebration of the season, and this year we have a winter worth feting, so expect spirits to be merry-bright as Ute City throws down with a host of festivities all through the weekend.

This year’s Wintersköl theme — Aspen: Original by Design — take its cue from the ongoing eight-month-long celebration of the 100th anniversary of Germany’s Bauhaus school of design. It’s a theme that has much to do with this year’s royalty, Lissa Ballinger and Mike Monroney. We’ll take a closer look at those two in tomorrow’s Time Out section, and there’ll be more Wintersköl coverage to come as events unfold. To help you sort out where to be and when to be there, here are some highlights to look for in the coming days.

 

Thursday

If you visit the Mill Street Mall you might notice that there are some big, 8-foot-square cubes of snow placed here and there. That can only mean one thing: Anderson Ranch Arts Center Wintersculpt is back. This 48-hour snow sculpture contest kicks off at 3 p.m. with teams working around the clock to craft Bauhaus-inspired creations.

The Aspen Historical Society will get Wintersköl really rolling tonight at 5:30 p.m. at the Wheeler Opera House with a presentation of Aspen History 101, a free event featuring actors and actresses telling tales of Aspen’s past through song and dance. It’s a great chance to brush up on local lore, and attendees 21 and up will receive an Aspen Teachers College “student ID” good for a beer at the bar afterward.

Immediately following Aspen History 101, at 7:30 p.m., the Wheeler will be screening the classic movie “Aspen Extreme,” which was shot right here in town and featured many locals as extras and stunt doubles. The film, which is free to attend, tells the story of two ski bums from Detroit who become ski instructors in Aspen. It’s an unintentionally comic must-see for anyone who’s ever been here. For more, check on story on page 1.

Friday

Speaking of cubes of snow on the Mill Street mall, teams from Roaring Fork Valley middle schools will be turning smaller, 4-foot-square ones into frosty works of art from 9 a.m.-noon as part of Anderson Ranch Arts Center Kidsculpt. A panel of independent community members will select the winners at noon, and each school will receive a $75 stipend to be used for art supplies.

Youth will also be served — served hot cocoa, that is — from 10-11 a.m. at The Little Nell’s Chair 9 when local author Jill Sheeley and her Australian shepherd Kip will be on hand for Children’s Story Book Hour. Sheeley will read about the adventures of Kip and Fraser the yellow dog. Shelley will sign copies of her books after the reading.

If your little ones would rather ski, head to Aspen Highlands for the Apple Strudel Downhill from 10:30 a.m.-noon. A tradition dating back over 30 years to when Gretl Uhl began making apple strudel at the Merry-Go-Round restaurant, it’s the race where everybody wins.   

The historical society will be doing more educating at the Limelight Hotel from 5:30-6:45 p.m. when the Retro Film Series: Decades of Skiing Aspen/Snowmass takes a look at the 1940s. Presented in conjunction with the Aspen Skiing Co., the screening will feature two short films, including “Until We Met in Aspen,” shot in 1949 by Dick Durrance. ($10 suggested donation)

Saturday

The Anderson Ranch Arts Center Wintersculpt wraps up at 3 p.m. with judges awarding prizes for first, second and third based on creativity, design concept and technical execution.

Looking for a way to play hockey on ice but without skates? Sign up a team for the Wintersköl Broomball tournament at the Aspen Ice Garden, which runs from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Five-player teams are $75 each, and there is a two-game guarantee. If you want to skate but not play hockey, Lewis Ice Arena at the Aspen Rec Center will have a free public skate from 1:30-4:45 p.m.

Dog lovers should bring their well-dressed, four-legged friends to Wagner Park from 12-3 p.m. for Winterfest, which features the ever-popular Canine Fashion Show and a performance by the U.S. Air Force Academy Drum & Bugle Corps and the El Jebel Shrine Pipe Band. The fashion show is free for Fido to enter, but you must register between 12 and 1 p.m.

Wagner Park will remain the place to be all afternoon and evening with the AVSC Rail Jam from 5-7 p.m. and the Wintersköl Snowcoming Bonfire at 7 p.m., featuring another performance by the U.S. Air Force Academy Drum & Bugle Corps.

At 8 p.m. the action shifts to Aspen Mountain’s Little Nell run for the Torchlight Descent & Wintersköl Fireworks Extravaganza. Volunteer skiers will ski down the run bearing torches (meet at the bottom of the Little Nell lift at 7:30 p.m. to volunteer), and immediately afterward the sky above Ajax will come alive with a celebratory fireworks display.

Sunday

After three days of whooping it up, unwind the old-fashioned way with Circle of Friends Wintersköl Bingo at the Pitkin County Library from 12-2 p.m. Open to all ages and aimed at connecting different generations, the free event will feature prizes and Taster’s Pizza for all.

Todd Hartley is the special sections editor for Aspen Daily News. He can be reached at todd@aspendailynews.com.

Special Sections Editor