Who is Bredo Morstøl and what are Frozen Dead Guy Days? A peek inside one of Colorado’s most beloved – and bizarre – festivals

Courtesy Frozen Dead Guy Days
Festival goers compete in a coffin race at Frozen Dead Guy Days.

For 22 years, Coloradans have celebrated a frozen dead guy – Bredo Morstøl, colloquially known as “Grandpa Bredo” – with an annual festival.

Frozen Dead Guy Days is one of the state’s quirkiest events. For twenty years, it was celebrated in the 1.6-square-mile town of Nederland, located west of Boulder.

Last year, the festival outgrew its home and was relocated to Estes Park. As a result, Grandpa Bredo missed his own party.

But he’ll be in attendance this year. His remains were transferred to Estes Park to be preserved in the city’s new, International Cryonics Museum in August 2023, located on the grounds of the Stanley Hotel.

Grandpa Bredo Morstøl, the man for whom Colorado's "Frozen Dead Guy Days" are celebrated.

Who is Grandpa Bredo Morstøl?

Bredo Morstøl was a Norwegian man, born in 1900, who loved painting, fishing, skiing, and hiking, according to his Frozen Dead Guy Days biography.

In 1989, Morstøl died from a heart condition during a nap at his family’s Norwegian mountain retreat. But instead of a traditional burial, his daughter Aud Morstøl and grandson Trygve Bauge had something else in mind.

Both proponents for cryonics – the practice of deep-freezing the deceased in hopes that scientific advances will allow for future resurrection – they decided to preserve Morstøl’s body. So he was placed on dry ice and shipped to the TransTime cryonics facility in Oakland, California, where he was kept in liquid nitrogen for almost four years.

In 1993, Bauge had his grandfather transferred to Nederland, Colorado, where he and his mother were living. There, he stored Morstøl’s remains in a cryogenic storage shed that he built in his backyard.

But it was only a matter of time before word got out about his little secret.

Rick Pawl / Creative Commons
The Tuff Shed Cryogenic Mausoleum, built for Grandpa Bredo Morstøl, the "frozen dead guy," by his grandson Trygve Bauge. Nederland, Colorado.

Nedheads find out there’s a frozen dead guy in town

In 1994, Bauge was deported from the United States for overstaying his tourist visa for 14 years. Soon after, his mother was evicted from her home in Nederland because it lacked electricity and plumbing.

With her son gone and her own return to Norway looming, Aud Morstøl worried about the upkeep of her father’s remains. So she started talking and word about her home cryonics operation made its way to Nederland city council.

City officials weren’t pleased, and they passed an ordinance against the storage of “the whole or any part of the person, body or carcass of a human being.” But Grandpa Bredo was, quite literally, grandfathered in.

After his family’s return to Norway, he was looked after by locals who were entrusted with his care. Brad Wickham, aka the “Ice Man,”  was the most instrumental in Morstøl’s upkeep, freshly icing the body every two weeks from 2014 until Morstøl’s relocation to Estes Park in 2023.

And in typical Nederland fashion, residents turned this putrid situation into a party. 

“Originally, this event was created to offer a celebration of all things icy and chilly during a slower time of year, when Colorado mountain towns like Estes Park and Nederland greatly benefit from winter visitors,” said Claire Molle, spokesperson for Visit Estes Park. But after Morstøl’s presence in Nederland was made known, the town’s Chamber of Commerce “came up with the idea for a quirky winter festival celebrating this growing legend of Grandpa Bredo.” 

Now, Frozen Dead Guy Days has grown to become a nationally-recognized event.

What’s in store for this year’s Frozen Dead Guy Days?

Marking the second-annual celebration in Estes Park, the festival will be held at the town’s events complex and at The Stanley Hotel, with satellite events at additional locations.

After Frozen Dead Guy Days outgrew its hometown, “The Stanley Hotel and Estes Park eagerly took on the opportunity to host the festival in our town,” said Molle. 

“This was also a rescue mission for Grandpa Bredo in that he couldn’t live in a Tuff Shed forever, so the opportunity to create first ever International Cryonics Museum was born.” Now, his body is under the care of the Alcor Life Preservation Foundation.

Festival-goers can expect longstanding traditions from years past, including coffin races, a polar plunge, and the Royal Blue Ball. There will also be new events, like a fashion show and a Bloody Mary brunch.

Weekend festivities also include music from local and national acts, such as Andy Frasco & The U.N., Yonder Mountain String Band, Spafford, and Deadphish Orchestra.

Find the full schedule of Frozen Dead Guy Days events here.