6 Best Winter Events In Stowe, VT

Posted on Oct. 17, 2022

If you are planning a vacation this winter, think about timing it around one of these classic Stowe events.

Fireworks over Spruce Peak Spruce Camp Great Room
There is no bad time to visit Stowe Mountain Resort. The December holidays are magical. Winter school vacation weeks are just plain fun, and spring skiing is hard to beat.

But those who have been coming to these ski mountains for years will tell you there are some days you just don’t want to miss. Yes, powder days of course, but we’re also talking about the recurring Stowe, VT, events that have become rituals and are part and parcel of what a ski season means here.

If you are planning a vacation, think about what new Stowe, VT, events you might want to experience, and check their websites to confirm the dates. Here are a few classics to put on the calendar:

Opening Day, November

Though weather will always dictate when “opening day” is each season, there’s one thing that’s always predictable: No matter if it rains or snows, no matter how much or how little snow is measured at The Stake atop Mount Mansfield, there is a vibe during opening day that can’t be missed. Locals will often get up well before dawn to catch first chair — usually the FourRunner Quad on the Mount Mansfield side of the resort. The earliest skiers and riders are sometimes greeted with treats — such as breakfast sandwiches or hot chocolate — from the resort. But the biggest treat is being able to lay down the first turns of the season, connect with ski buddies whom you may not have seen since last spring and to warm up the legs for the season ahead. Typically, Stowe opens to Epic Pass holders on the Friday before Thanksgiving but check the website for opening date updates.

Winter Rendezvous, January

For 40 years now, Stowe Mountain Resort and the town of Stowe have played host to the Winter Rendezvous, also known as the LGBTQ Winter Pride Festival. Long before Vermont became the first state in the union to legalize civil unions between same-sex couples (and later legalized gay marriage in 2009), there was Winter Rendezvous. The week features five days of skiing and riding, parties, contests and fun. Some of the highlights for the 2023 event that’s planned for Jan. 18-22 include a pool party with DJ Keith James, drag bingo with Trampolina and House of LeMay, the Blow out Dance Party with DJ Steve Sidewalk and a Miss Richfield 1981 Performance. Don’t be surprised to see “drag” races on the slopes.

Stowe Winter Carnival, January

Stowe’s first winter carnival was held in the 1921, even before the trails were cut at what is now Stowe Mountain Resort. Organized by local forester and landowner Craig O. Burt, it included ski jumping and tobogganing on the hill behind Stowe’s elementary school. During the war years, the carnival fizzled out, but it was brought back in 1974 and has been going strong ever since. Today, the carnival is more about having fun than competing. Events include ice carving competitions, (watch for the ice sculptures to appear along the Mountain Road), the wildly fun Snow Volleyball Tournament and parties around town.

Stowe Derby, February

Another classic Stowe, VT, event with a long history, the Stowe Derby was first held in 1945. A race from near the top of Mount Mansfield into the village of Stowe, it began as a personal bet between two legendary skiers: Sepp Ruschp, an Austrian, and the head of Stowe’s new ski school, and Erling Strom, a world-famous mountaineer from Norway. The only rule was you could only use one pair of skis over the roughly 13 miles — half of which were downhill and the other half, either flat or uphill. Organized by the Mount Mansfield Ski Academy, the race now draws hundreds of skiers each year who compete in the freestyle (skate ski) division, the classic cross-country ski division or both as part of the Derby Meister. A fatbike course was also recently added. When the conditions are right, the Stowe Derby starts near the top of the Toll Road and ends in the Village. While the race does attract top ski racers, many do it in costumes and just for the fun of it. The event always draws crowds of spectators to the hairpin turns of Toll Road to watch for the inevitable wipe-outs as racers speed downhill on skinny skis.

St. Patrick’s Day, March 17

There’s no official reason why Stowe should be linked to St. Patrick’s Day, but for many years there were three traditions associated with the day: eating breakfast at McCarthy’s, skiing by the green waterfall on Gondolier and partying late into the night at The Matterhorn, Stowe’s legendary après-ski bar. McCarthy’s is no longer in business, but the other two traditions live on. There is also no official explanation why every March 17 the frozen waterfall under the Mount Mansfield gondola mysteriously glows a shamrock green, but for more than 20 years straight, some industrious local die-hards have managed to color the ice falls with a bit of non-toxic dye to celebrate Ireland’s heritage. The dye is gone the next day and the frozen falls go back to their ice-blue hues.

Sugar Slalom, April

The 1936-37 season was the first that the lifts ran at what was to become Stowe Mountain Resort. Two seasons later, in 1939, the first Sugar Slalom was held. The race, typically held in early April when the sap is flowing from maple trees and being boiled into syrup, has since gone on to become one of the most recognized amateur ski races in the U.S. A look at past rosters shows no shortage of future Olympians, including 2022 silver medalist Ryan Cochran-Siegle of Richmond, Vermont. A fundraiser for the Mount Mansfield Ski Academy, the two-day race typically attracts top junior skiers from around the region. But anyone of any age can enter. The Sugar Slalom is just about fun and on the second day, people dress up and compete on the dual slalom course in all kinds of crazy outfits. But perhaps the best part is the tradition of serving sugar on snow at the base of the course. Buckets of warm maple syrup are poured over long troughs of cold snow. The racers then take popsicle sticks to scoop up the “sugar on snow,” a treat they’ve earned. It’s one of the most quintessential Stowe, VT, events!

View Stowe Events Calendar

Produced in partnership with Vermont Ski + Ride Magazine.