A Frozen Corpse Is the Star Attraction at This Late-Winter Festival in Colorado

Frozen Dead Guy Days is a campy and whimsical weekend centered around the late Bredo Morstøl, whose body has been kept on dry ice for years

March 9, 2024 9:30 pm
The Royal Blue Ball at the Stanley Hotel during Frozen Dead Guy Days
The Royal Blue Ball is a highlight of Frozen Dead Guy Days.
Frozen Dead Guy Days

Some festivals are all about music and flower crowns. Others are centered around beer, wine or food. Some are devoted more to arts and crafts. It’s a rare festival, then, that focuses all its efforts on a cryogenically frozen man from Norway. But that’s all par for the course at the on-the-nose — and decidedly one-and-only — Frozen Dead Guy Days, a late-winter festival now held in Estes Park, Colorado, after a decades-long run in the smaller community of Nederland.  

While it might sound morbid to orient a festival around a corpse, Frozen Dead Guy Days is surprisingly whimsical and delightfully campy, hosted as both a joyous send-off to winter and a reason to celebrate one of the region’s quirkier transplants, a Norwegian man named “Grandpa” Bredo Morstøl. 

(Not Bredo Morstøl)
(Not Bredo Morstøl)
Getty Images

Life After Death

It all goes back to 1989, when Morstøl died of a heart condition in his homeland of Norway. An avid outdoorsman, and the former parks and recreation director in Baerum County in his home country, this was a man with a sense of adventure and wanderlust. So it’s only fitting that after his death, in lieu of a cemetery, his body was shipped on dry ice to a cryonics facility in Oakland, California. He’d dwell here for four years in liquid nitrogen, like a human-sized bowl of Dippin’ Dots, before departing for the small Colorado town of Nederland, where his daughter and grandson lived. For the next 30 years, Morstøl has remained cryogenically frozen in a shed near their home, where his family had hoped to develop enough cryonics technology to one day thaw him and bring him back to life via cloning. 

Spoiler alert: that hasn’t happened, and Morstøl’s frozen saga has only gotten wilder. Due to the pesky fact that it was technically illegal to store a frozen corpse in your home in Nederland (who knew!), his daughter partnered up with a local reporter doing God’s work to help pass a municipal code with the city council that essentially grandfathered Grandpa Morstøl in and allowed him to remain on ice in his shed. During this whole frigid saga, the town of Nederland decided they wanted to make his corpse their whole personality, establishing Frozen Dead Guy Days as a festival in 2002 in order to honor their zaniest resident. 

Scenes from the coffin races
Scenes from the coffin races
Frozen Dead Guy Days

A New Era in Estes Park

Although Morstøl remains chilling in his shed in Nederland, where his dry ice needs are tended to by local caretakers, the festival was moved to the larger town of Estes Park in March 2023, christening a new era for this singular Colorado transplant. Apparently, the festival became so popular that it outgrew the community of Nederland (last year’s attendance swelled to 12,000), necessitating a move to a larger town with more hotels and less bottlenecked roads. 

Said hotels include the iconic Stanley Hotel, which feels on brand for such a morbid festival considering this historic — and haunted — property served as inspiration for The Shining. The ornate, looming property now serves as a host hotel for Frozen Dead Guy Days, offering bloody-good Redrum cocktails, a Shining-themed brunch and the Royal Blue Ball — a larger-than-life dance party where people come dressed to the nines in wintry costumes. 

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Last year’s inaugural festival in Estes Park was anchored by a spree of quirky corpse- and/or winter-themed events mostly held on the Estes Park festival grounds. Here, visitors could watch coffin races, wherein teams sprint through an obstacle course while carrying someone in their own DIY coffin, and witness whimsically macabre winter ‘fits at the Frostbite Fashion Show. There’s also a hearse parade, live music aplenty, tons of food and drink vendors, and a polar plunge, for those brave enough to leap into an icy pond. 

It all ends with the Bands and Bloodys Brunch on Sunday, which is a choose-your-own-adventure endeavor. For those staying at the Stanley Hotel, the most sensible option is The Post Chicken & Beer, which is on the grounds. For reveleres resting their heads elsewhere, there are five other establishments joining the party: The Barrel (a Bloody Mary bar being the main draw here), The Bull Pin, Lumpy Ridge Brewing Co., the American Legion and Twisted Griffin Irish Pub & Restaurant.

You've never been to a festival like this
You’ve never been to a festival like this
Frozen Dead Guy Days

The Future of the Frozen Dead Guy

The big hubbub, of course, when uprooting Frozen Dead Guy Days to Estes Park, was the murky future of the frozen dead guy himself. While increased traffic and popularity necessitated a move to a larger community, some attendees felt conflicted about having the festival in a different town than the one Morstøl currently resides, which is some 40 miles away. But that all may be changing. 

Morstøl was not in attendance for the 2023 festival, but the owner of the Stanley Hotel is on a mission to transfer him to a new facility in town. Nederland, naturally, wants to keep their campy tourist attraction on their own turf, but Stanley owner John Cullen has been negotiating with Morstøl’s grandson, Trygve Bauge, in hopes to move him to the hotel grounds — into a hopeful cryonics museum, to be precise. The hope, too, is to nix the expensive dry ice process, which entails $1,000 worth of the stuff delivered monthly from Denver, and switch to liquid nitrogen. 

The decision, ultimately, will come down to Bauge, but it’s undeniable how apt it would be to house a frozen dead guy in a town with a penchant for tourism, and at a hotel with a penchant for the macabre.

Frozen Dead Guy Days runs from March 14-17 this year, anchored by the Frozen Dead Guy Days Festival on Saturday, March 16.


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