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Rites of Spring

The first delicate blades of grass have begun to show green through the winter chaff. The mornings are filled with birdsong and the shaggy looking bull Elk are shedding last year’s antlers.  Happy to be eating fresh greens, the cows and calves forage front lawns and delicately pick their way through residential neighborhoods. Squirrels and bunnies poke out their noses to gather fresh cones and nibble on greens while we enjoy the lovely spring snow – lacy, thick and wet – it falls like white rain to nourish and waken the wildflowers.


Like Bears emerging from hibernation, we drop a layer or two of outerwear and chase the chill from the inside out at one of our happy Spring traditions – the annual Whiskey Warm Up.


On Saturday, March 12, 2016, from 1p to 4p, sixteen craft distillers set up booths throughout George Hix Riverside Plaza to showcase and offer tastes of bourbon, gin, rye, whiskey, rum and vodka produced in distilleries from Denver, Colorado Springs, Parker, Fort Collins, Lyons, Buena Vista, Greeley, Breckenridge, Golden and Palisade.


During Whiskey Snap Shot Seminars, you can learn about the history of bourbon, how to decipher what’s on a label and the anatomy of a punch. One producer uses an old moonshine recipe; another has mastered a blend of corn, malted rye and barley mash; and still another mills the grains before cooking them into a complex sour mash and completing the distilling process.  Attendance to hourly seminars at 1:30p, 2:30p and 3:30p is included with tickets.


If you enjoy a stogie with your spirits, visit the outdoor cigar shop between 1:30p and 3:30p where an authentic cigar roller will teach the art of rolling a perfect cigar. Festival guests can take home a handmade cigar with its own special Whiskey Warm Up band.


Enjoy one of two special food pairing sessions matching spirits with BBQ, chocolate and donuts. A first-come-first-served event, sign up for the 2:15p or the 3:15p pairing when you check in at the festival.


The popular Front Range folk duo, Pandas & People, will perform on the plaza from 1:30p to 3:30p.


After the official close of the Whiskey Warm Up, guests are invited to extend their experience with craft beverages at one of a number of whiskey inspired events taking place throughout Estes Park.


Festival tickets are $50 per ticket/$90/couple. Tickets, only available to those 21 and older, can be purchased on line at or at the plaza on the day of the festival.


Shed your heavy winter coat and warm up from the inside out. It’s Spring in the mountains, and we’re only just getting started.

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