Sure, New Orleans has Mardi Gras, but we have Carnivale!. I pretty much go every year and I thought I would invite fellow Front Range members to tag along. Carnivale is a day long event hosted by the crazy folks in Manitou and it is neat to photograph (You can see past images here: http://charlie.zenfolio.com/p566212809). For this meetup I will meet you in Memorial Park in Manitou around noon. The parade leaves the park at 1pm and marches up the main street to the other park in Manitou Springs, Soda Springs. After the parade disbands, many of the groups and marchers will probably dance to drums in Soda Springs and/or go off to different bars and clubs to continue the party. So, this meetup is scheduled for noon to 2pm - I will meet you then at noon in Memorial Park. Before and afterward, you are on your own.
Before? Well there is the Mumbo Jumbo Chili Cookoff at Soda Springs Park. Cooking starts around 9am, the competition begins around 10am and the judging is at 10:45. It too is a great place to photograph and you can buy samples of the chili and vote for your favorite. I will likely be there at the cookoff around 10 am or so and then start walking down to Memorial Park around 11-11:30 or so. There are usually many strange folks to photograph along the way, and the crowd along the parade route is just as crazy as the paraders.
Afterward, well, the town parties but if that is not enough, that weekend and the following, Cripple Creek has an Ice Carving Festival. The following weekend is probably better, more time for the carvers to carve.
I will try to remember to put on a name tag with "Charlie" on it but as the photographers gather you will likely see the group in the park. I find shooting before an event is the best time and I think you will have fun. The downside is the weather. Please, do check the meetup site that day to see if the event is cancelled because of snow or road conditions. I will update it as best I can and maybe send out an email too about the weather conditions.
Some Manitou information: You can travel down I-25 to Highway 24, go west and exit the Manitou Sprigs exit. I prefer driving down 1-25, exit on Garden of the Gods Road, go west to 30th street (where you have to turn, the road ends), go south on 30th to Colorado Blvd, and take that road west to Manitou. When you enter the town there are two parks, Memorial Park, the first one, and Soda Springs, in town, a bit hidden from view. It is best to park around Memorial Park which provides the easiest exit from the town. If you are there early you can probably find a space near the park or on a side street. Memorial Park is on the right as you enter the town, across from the Business of Arts Center which is on the left.
Food? The Adams Mountain Cafe in town is pretty good, the Stage Coach is fine for lunch and dinner. We just don't have the great restaurants down south as you northerners do. However, the Marigold on Centennial Blvd. off Garden of the Gods Road is as good as anything up north.