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Wintersköl (and, yes, Soupsköl) return this weekend

Chefs and community members participate in a previous iteration of "Soupsköl" at the Aspen Art Museum.
Chris Council and Emily Chaplin
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C2 Photography
Chefs and community members participate in a previous iteration of "Soupsköl" at the Aspen Art Museum in 2020. The hallmark event of Aspen's annual Wintersköl festival returns in 2023 with free tastings on the Cooper Street Mall in downtown Aspen.

After two years of pandemic impacts and a slew of virtual or postponed events at Wintersköl, the community celebration that started seven decades ago is returning to the good old days this year, and there’s one hallmark event that proves it: Soupsköl is back.

Melany Muro is the special events manager at the Aspen Chamber Resort Association, which organizes Wintersköl. And you can tell, by the eager way she talks about it, that Soupsköl is one of the highlights of the festival.

“It’s completely free, it’s awesome, you can try different soups, vote for your favorite, super excited about that,” Muro said.

Around eight-to-10 restaurants will show off their soups for the competition on the Cooper Street Mall on Saturday from 1 to 3 p.m. The long running Wintersköl tradition first made a comeback in 2020 after a three-year hiatus, then hit pause again in 2021 and 2022 when COVID-19 restrictions put a damper on a free-for-all soup tasting event.

If food is your favorite part of Wintersköl, you’ll also find bites at the uphill breakfast club kickoff at Buttermilk Mountain and an apple strudel race at Aspen Highlands, both on Friday.

Other events include a “rail jam” competition in Wagner Park in downtown Aspen on Friday night and live music, a bonfire, torchlight descent and fireworks on Saturday.

The Air Force Academy Drum and Bugle Corps is scheduled to perform in town from 1:45 to 2:15 p.m. on Saturday; the bonfire takes place from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. and the torchlight descent and fireworks take place around 8 p.m.

Snow sculptures will be an attraction throughout the festival.

Most of the programming is free for all. Muro says that’s part of the point of Wintersköl.

“Really it’s for our local community,” she said. “We try to emphasize as many fun, free events as possible.”

The festival wraps up Sunday with a drag queen bingo brunch at the Little Nell. That ticketed event is a collaboration with Aspen Gay Ski Week and The Little Nell. Tickets are $128, and the event benefits local nonprofit AspenOUT.

A schedule of events is posted at aspenchamber.org.

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Kaya Williams is the Edlis Neeson Arts and Culture Reporter at Aspen Public Radio, covering the vibrant creative and cultural scene in Aspen and the Roaring Fork Valley. She studied journalism and history at Boston University, where she also worked for WBUR, WGBH, The Boston Globe and her beloved college newspaper, The Daily Free Press. Williams joins the team after a stint at The Aspen Times, where she reported on Snowmass Village, education, mental health, food, the ski industry, arts and culture and other general assignment stories.