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Wednesday 15 January 2020

Our First Christmas in Colorado

I know, I know... Christmas was a couple of weeks ago now, but I have one last Christmas themed post to share and then that's it - until December!

This time I'm sharing a round up of all the holiday fun as there were quite a few smaller events that I didn't share dedicated posts about. Oh, and our Christmas card, which I never shared on here before - although you may have received one in the mail. There are majestic mountains behind the kids in this pic, but they're hidden behind thick clouds. Clouds that later that very same day brought the heavy snowfall that we experienced over Thanksgiving break. You can see just how much snow we got here

Let's go back to November when the holiday fun started - before Thanksgiving, for some reason!)

The kick off to the holiday season was an event that I partook in without the kids. What? A grown up event just for me? That very rarely happens, but it was just what I needed. I visited the Brown Palace Hotel in Denver with my friend Hanna for the hotel's annual Champagne Cascade. A Christmas tree (or a pyramid, depending on how you look at it) made up of over 6,000 champagne glasses was the focal point for this event, located prominently in the hotel's atrium lobby. The ceiling of the atrium lobby is stunning. You can see it below. A saber wielding swordsman cut the tops off bottles of champagne and the hotel's general manager poured the champagne from the top of the "tree". Now, if you're wondering, and I'm sure you are, if every glass in the "tree" was filled, the answer is no. As amazing as that sounds, it would take thousands of champagne bottles, many hours, and it would most likely collapse under its own weight. I'm sure it would make a spectacular mess! Instead, about half a dozen bottles of champagne were added to the tree. The champagne glass tree was stunning to see, but another highlight was the gorgeous chandelier hanging above it. The vintage chandelier is stunning as is, but for the holidays its made all the more spectacular with the addition of Christmas ornaments and garlands. As well as the champagne pour there was an official lighting of the chandelier, live music and an appearance from Santa. 


After the Champagne Cascade I took a walk down the 16th Street Mall to the annual Christkindl Market. We never made it to a Christmas market while living in Zurich (I have no idea how that happened considering we left a few days before Christmas) so I was happy to experience a little of Europe right here in Colorado. I checked out the stalls and bought a few hand-painted ornaments for the kids, but didn't venture too far through the markets as I planned to come back with the kids. Spoiler alert: we never made it back. Oops! Next year we'll make it. 

Our next holiday event, the Louisville Parade of Lights, was one for all the family. This small parade was held at the beginning of December and made its way down Lousiville's Main Street. It was a pretty small affair with local groups, marching bands, fire trucks, lots of inflatable characters and twinkly light, and of course, Santa himself. It was a much chillier evening than expected so while I'd originally planned to check out some of the other activities on offer on Main Street we just watched the parade and then headed straight home to warm up with hot chocolate.

Most years we take a trip to a Christmas tree farm to choose and cut down our own tree. It's something I look forward to every year. Now that we're in Colorado I've discovered that Christmas tree farms are far and few between. I was quite surprised by this as there were quite a few within an hour's drive of our home in the Bay Area and I expected there to be just as many, if not more, here in Colorado. Here it seems much more common for people to buy a licence to chop down a tree from a state park. That may not sound like the best idea, but it help thin out forests. We thought about going down this route, but that required buying our own tools, tying the tree to the car ourselves, and a little more effort than we could be bothered with. So, instead we visited a local tree lot where someone else had already done the thinning out in a state park. While most Christmas trees in California are on the fuller side, Christmas trees here in Colorado tend to be a little more sparse. Think Charlie Brown tree! The tree we chose was much taller than trees we've had it the past, but it certainly was a lot lighter on foliage. I actually quite like this as it makes it easier to see the ornaments. Next year we might try our hand at cutting down our own tree in a nearby state park instead.  

Another day, another parade. Well, actually, we arrived a little late and miss the parade - oops - but we still got to partake in some holiday fun at the Olde Golden Christmas Festival. The highlight was taking a wagon ride - but not just any wagon ride. This was a wagon ride with a giant and cuddly Newfoundland dog! How fun is that? The kids took a couple of rides each before we moved onto a bigger wagon ride, or rather, a horse and carriage ride. We then headed out for lunch before dropping by a local gift store to visit Santa and tell him our Christmas wishes. It was a fun day out and next year we'll try to make it in time for the parade too.  

Dog rides one weekend; pony rides the next! A favorite event for the kids was the Pony Holiday Festival. This fun event took place at nearby Flatirons Equestrian and was filled with ponies, horses, donkeys, pigs, chickens and goats. The girls got to ride ponies, make s'mores, pet lots of animals, and pose for pics with this little cutie below. Flatirons Equestrian runs regular horse riding lessons as well as Summer camps so I'm thinking we might have to sign up for more horse related fun.

On Christmas Eve we spent the day soaking in all the Christmas spirit with a visit to Camp Christmas, Denver's holiday ice skating rink and the Mile High Tree. I've shared both Camp Christmas and the Mile High Tree on the blog already and you can find the posts by clicking the bold and underlined links. Camp Christmas was amazing! I'm a huge fan of pop up events and immersive art, so this was a holiday dream come true. With displays featuring Christmas celebrations and trends throughout the years, bars with tasty holiday themed drinks, and a gazillion photo opportunities it was a festive overload for all the senses! I hope they bring it back next year. We'll be back for sure!

After lunch we headed into Downtown Denver for ice skating at the pop up outdoor rink located just off the 16th Street Mall. We had planned to visit the Christkindl Market, which had been located across the street from the rink, however it closed the day prior. Oops! At least I got to see it and buy a few ornaments a few weeks earlier. With no Christmas market to visit we headed straight to the, rather crowded, ice skating rink. We had skated here during our visit to Colorado last Winter break and the kids enjoyed it. This time around it was quite a lot busier so it wasn't quite as enjoyable, but it was still fun for a bit.

From the skating rink we headed to Sculpture Park located by the Denver Performing Arts Complex to check out the Mile High Tree. We arrived a little early and the tree was not yet lit. The kids were a little grumpy about being out in the cold, but their tune soon changed once the lights came on. The tree was spectacular. Actually, I should say "is" spectacular as this holiday event runs nightly through the end of January. If you're in the Denver area make sure to go check it out.

When we arrived home it was time to get ready for the big day! The kids changed into their new Christmas nighties (it's our tradition that they get new Christmas pajamas on Christmas Eve), put carrots out on the front lawn for Santa's reindeer, left a plate of cookies and a glass of milk out on the mantle for Santa, and placed their Santa sacks under the tree. Normally getting the kids to bed is somewhat of a monumental task each night, but they went to bed easily knowing that Santa couldn't visit while they were still up.

And then it was Christmas day!

Surprisingly the kids all slept in on Christmas morning, although Mathilde did sneak downstairs to have a quick look before jumping into bed with us. She was happy to report that Santa had indeed visited while we slept. The stockings we'd hung on our mantle (a first for us) were full, the Santa sacks under the tree were full, and the plate of cookies and glass of milk were empty.

The kids were pretty happy with their Christmas presents. This year Ava got a Tamagotchi (they're back!), a Fjallraven backpack, Just Dance for the Nintendo Switch, Rick & Morty Yahtzee and some slime. Lola also got a Tamagotchi (they interact, which is pretty cool), a lava lamp, Bob's Burgers Clue boardgame, Minecraft Lego, a couple of plushies, and some slime. Mathilde got a Minecraft Lego set, giant "Lego" blocks (house brick size!) Slime Ranchers plushies, and some books. 

We had a pretty quiet Christmas Day at home. We played the girls' new games, built with the giant Lego blocks and ate a yummy lunch - all while keeping our fingers crossed that it would snow. No snowy Christmas for us (apart from a few wet snow flakes mixed into some slight drizzle) but we did get enough snow to go sledding a few days later.

Now, you'd think that would be the end of the Christmas fun, right? Nope! If you've been following along with the blog or Instagram you'll know that we had one last Christmassy event to round out the holiday season. I'm talking about the Ice! event at Gaylord Rockies. The highlight of our visit to Gaylord Rockies was the Ice! featuring Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer sculpture show. This walk through exhibition featured stunning ice sculptures depicting Rudolph's story. Everyone's favorite part of the exhibition was the ice slides in the middle. They were so much fun. We also spent some time tubing and riding ice bumper cars outside. Such a fun day. You can see more of our visit by clicking the bold and underlined link above.

And just like that, the holidays came to an end.

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday season, and you'll be glad to know that this is my last Christmas themed post - for now! It'll be December again before we know it!

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