The Great Fruitcake Toss began in 1996 when locals began throwing fruitcakes in the park. Prizes are awarded for distance, speed, accuracy, and balance. All fruitcakes are not used go to Jezebel, a pig living at SunMountain. All fruitcakes used in the toss are free of preservatives and safe for the animals. There is also a demonstration on how to make a mini catapult and food trucks are onsite at the event which is held each January.
Carnivale Weekend is held at the same time as the New Orleans Mardi Gras celebration. There is a CarniBall Masquerade Ball, Mumbo Gumbo Jumbo Cook-Off, and parade as well as specials offered at downtown locations.
The first Saturday in June, the Manitou Springs Colorado Wine Festival takes place, growing from just a handful of wineries to more than 20 juried vendors. All the wine celebrated is made in Colorado. There are vendors, food trucks, and live music in the park as well as treats designed to be paired with wine tastings. Tickets include samplings from all participating wineries, a tote bag, and a commemorative tasting glass.
The Ice Cream Social and Pie Baking Contest, held the first Saturday in July, began as a way for neighbors to meet each other and has since blossomed into a friendly competition to see who can make the best pie. The pie is paired with a variety of ice creams to cure anyone’s sweet tooth.
Every year, Manitou Springs holds an Independence Day Celebration in Soda Springs Park. People bring a picnic lunch or dinner, lawn chairs or blankets, and relax in the park before the annual fireworks begin. There are also lawn games for kids and other activities throughout the day.
The Commonwheel Arts Festival, held every Labor Day weekend, is a three-day art festival in Memorial Park. There are live original music and kids activities available throughout the event. Food vendors and a beer garden are added attractions as visitors view the work of more than 100 juried artists and purchase some of the unique items at the festival.
In September, Manitou Springs is home to the Heritage Brew Festival which benefits the local museum. Visitors are able to sample a wide range of beer and food in the park while listening to live music.
Manitou Paints celebrates “en Plein Air,” which is the act of painting outside. There is live painting on the streets during the event, held in September, as well as in the parks throughout the town. An online auction of the art is held in October and proceeds to support the Manitou Springs Chamber of Commerce as well as the artist.
The Fruitcake Toss is not the only unusual event to take place in Manitou Springs. The Emma Crawford Coffin Races, held in October each year, is a festival in memory of Emma Crawford. The woman came to Manitou Springs in 1889 hoping the fresh air would cure her tuberculosis but, sadly, she died in 1891 of the illness. She requested to be buried at the top of Red Mountain. Almost 40 years later, storms unearthed the coffin, and Emma was sent sliding down the mountainside. In honor of Emma and her slide down the mountain, the coffin race was founded. Teams with names like Stranger Springs: Upside Down, Hosen Dead Guys, Scooby & the Gang, Team Fossil, the Nerds and more decorate a coffin of their choosing and have four runners who push the coffin to the finish line. The team has an “Emma” who must rest inside the coffin. Winners are vying for the Coffin Cup, a friendly competition between Manitou Springs and a neighboring town.
Silent Disco & Food Truck Rally began in 2018 and continues each August. Participants wear headphones in order to listen to three different DJs playing simultaneously and dance the night away in the park. Each DJ has special-colored earphones in order for others to identify who is listening to the same music. There is also a food truck rally, vendors, and more.