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Friday 26 November 2021

20+ Ways to Celebrate the Holidays in Colorado

It's that time of year again... time to start celebrating the holiday season with light displays, festive events and family friendly fun!

There are so many fun ways to celebrate the upcoming holiday season here in Colorado, so today I'm sharing some of my favorites for this year. Colorado sure does know how to make the festive season feel extra special, so no matter what your interests are you're sure to find an event that's right for you!

Let's take a look...

Blossoms of Light at Denver Botanic Gardens
Denver Botanic Gardens is a beautiful place to visit at any time of year, but during the holiday season it really comes to life thanks to the evening event Blossoms of Light. The actual blossoms may be gone for the Winter and the trees may be bare, but there is plenty of color to be seen thanks to thousands of twinkling lights that set the gardens aglow. Rug up in your Winter woolies, sip a hot chocolate and take a walk through the gardens where you'll be mesmerized by the sparking light displays, the glowing orbs that seem to float on the frozen ponds, the fascinating light sculptures and the fields of light that twinkle in time to music. You can see our visit here.

Blossoms of Light runs nightly from November 19th to January 8th (closed November 25th and December 25th) from 4:30pm to 9pm. 

Timed entry tickets must be purchased online in advance at 
https://www.botanicgardens.org/events/special-events/blossoms-light. This event tends to sell out every  year so make sure to book in advance. 

Trail of Lights at Chatfield Farms
Denver Botanic Gardens offers two events over the festive season. Along with Blossoms of Light mentioned above, there's also Trail of Lights at the gardens' Littleton location, Chatfield Farms. This family friendly exhibition features a mile of dazzling light displays, a children's play area with synchronized music, antique tractors and farm machinery, an 1880s ranch homestead, and hot drinks and snacks to purchase. 

Trail of Lights runs from November 26th through January 2nd (closed on December 25th) from 5pm to 8:30pm. 

Tickets can be purchased online in advance at https://www.botanicgardens.org/events/special-events/trail-lights.

Christmas at Gaylord Rockies
The Gaylord Rockies Resort in Aurora sure knows how to make the holiday season as festive as possible. Visitors will find stunning light displays throughout the resort and grounds, holiday shops with tasty treats and gifts galore, mini golf, snow play, ice bumper cars, ice skating, tubing, scavenger hunts, an escape room and all sorts of fun entertainment. This year's major attraction is Mission: Save Christmas featuring Elf. This interactive exhibit features all sorts of fun hands on displays including making virtual cookies, a dance party, giant pianos (like the one from Big), snow ball fights and more. There's also Cirque Dreams Holidaze, a circus performance with acrobats, contortionists, magicians, jugglers and so much more that is guaranteed to wow the whole family. You can see our previous visits here.

Christmas activities at Gaylord Rockies run from November 19th through January 2nd. Times vary depending on the activity.

Camp Christmas
Camp Christmas was one of our favorite holiday events when we visited back in 2019 and we're excited to see it return for in person fun again this year at Belmar Lakewood Heritage Park. This time around the holiday cheer is spread across 6 acres with primarily outdoor displays as well as the occasional indoor display. Santa will be available for photos on selected days at his Glampsite (at an additional cost) and visitors can warm up with a hot chocolate or a festive cocktail. You'll find 23 pun trees on display (like the gum tree below) among the dazzling light and memorabilia exhibits, and visitors can listen to a free audio tour as they collect virtual Merry Badges. New this year is the Camp Carousel which is included free with entry. You can see our previous visit to Camp Christmas here but keep in mind it will look a little different this year given that it was entirely indoors last time. 

Camp Christmas runs from November 18th through January 2nd with hours varying depending on the day.  

Timed entry tickets must be purchased in advance at https://www.denvercenter.org/tickets-events/camp-christmas/.

Luminova Holidays at Elitch Gardens
This holiday season Denver's favorite theme park, Elitch Gardens, comes to life with the Colorado debut of Luminova Holidays. Luminova Holidays features millions of dazzling lights, a 65ft Christmas tree, a giant lighted snowman, a 200ft candy cane tunnel, interactive activities, Santa and his elves, strolling holiday entertainers, and rides on limited Elitch Gardens attractions including the carousel, Big Wheel, Meow Wolf's Kaleidoscope, Tea Cups and more.   

Luminova Holidays runs from November 26th through January 2nd from 5pm to 10pm. 

Tickets can be purchased in advance online at https://www.elitchgardens.com/luminova/ or at the door if available. 

Zoo Lights at Denver Zoo
Denver Zoo is a favorite with Colorado families at anytime of year, but during the holiday season is when it really shines. Literally! With over 2 million lights spread over 80 acres, Zoo Lights is a spectacle that the whole family will love. As well as beloved light displays, this years exhibition features all new lights, ice carving, festive cocktails and warm drinks and animal viewing in the Tropical Discovery Building and El Pomar Village Hall (plus any other cold weather nocturnal animals that happen to be out and about). Add on activities such as giraffe feedings are available for an extra charge. You can see our visit to Zoo Lights last year here.

 Zoo Lights runs nightly from November 22nd through January 2nd from 5pm to 9pm (10pm Fri/Sat).

Timed entry tickets must be purchased in advance online at https://denverzoo.org/events/zoolights/

Denver's Mile High Tree
The Mile High Tree is back again this year at Denver's 16th Mall (at Welton Street) and once again it is free of charge. Visitors can enjoy the ever changing lights on the 110ft "tree" as they twinkle in time to holiday classics. The light displays can be enjoyed from outside the tree as well as inside. Laying down inside the tree and looking up at the lights above as they swirl around and twinkle is my favorite. It's really is an experience not to miss. 

You can see our past visits to Mile High Tree here and here

Denver's Mile High Tree lights up nightly from November 19th to January 1st from 5pm to 10pm.

Christmas in Color
Looking for a socially distant holiday activity? Too chilly to be outside? Or maybe you just want to check out holiday lights in a fun and different way? Christmas in Color is the festive activity for you! Load up the car with your loved ones and experience this drive through animated light display with over a million twinkling lights choreographed to holiday music. We've been a couple of times both here in Colorado and in Utah and it's always such a fun event for the whole family. No need to worry about the weather or dressing up. It's the perfect way to check out holiday lights in your pajamas! 

Christmas in Color has two Colorado locations, Water World in Federal Heights and Bandimere Speedway in Morrison, as well as seven other locations around the country. 

Christmas in Color runs nightly from November 19th through January 2nd from 5:30pm to 10pm.

Timed entry tickets must be purchased in advance at https://christmasincolor.net/

Christkindl Market
For those wanting to experience a little old world charm, Denver's Christkindl Market is just the place. This European style Christmas market features an artisan marketplace with ornaments, keepsakes, local specialties and more, as well as a tasty treats and delicious holiday drinks including mulled wine and hot cocoa. Entertainment is on offer daily and there are beloved theme days including Krampus Nacht, Canine Christmas, and Ugly Sweater Night. 

Christkindl Market is open daily from November 19th through December 23rd from 11am to 7pm (11am to 9pm Thurs/Fri/Sat and the final week).  

Christkindl Market is located at Civic Center Park, 101 14th Ave, Denver. Admission is free. 

For more information visit https://www.christkindlmarketdenver.com/.

A Hudson Christmas
The Hudson Gardens and Events Center in Littleton is home to A Hudson Christmas which makes its return this holiday season after a two year break. This sprawling outdoor event features over a million twinkling lights in trees and through out garden beds, inflatable snowmen, a holiday light tunnel and glowing reindeer. Visitors can warm up with hot drinks and snacks available on site. We're yet to visit A Hudson Christmas, but we did recently visit Hudson Gardens for Magic of the Jack O'Lanterns, and based on that I can imagine that this event must be just as spectacular. 

A Hudson Christmas runs on select days from November 26th through to December 31st from 5pm to 9:30pm. 

Tickets must be purchased online in advance at https://www.hudsongardens.org/enjoy/christmas-lights/.

Berthoud Snow Fest
Most of the activities I've shared here involve twinkling night time light displays. This one is a day time display and sparkles in a completely different way. Berthoud Snow Fest is an annual snow sculpture competition held in the tiny town of Berthoud, about an hour north of Denver. The event kicks off on Wednesday December 8th when teams begin carving their sculptures. The main event is held on Saturday December 11th when judging takes place. There will be a market set up and fun activities including snow carving lessons for kids. The evening ends with a festive parade and tree lighting. Depending on the weather the sculptures will remain on display for the following week. Last year we visited the day after judging and the sculptures were still entirely intact. 

You can see our visit to Berthoud Snow Fest here.

For ore information on this year's event visit https://berthoudmainstreet.org/berthoudsnowfest/.

Denver's Union Station
Denver's Union Station is always a fun place to visit during the holidays. In the evenings you'll find the façade of the station lit up with animated Merry & Bright light show while Christmas trees and twinkling lights sparkle all around. Inside the station you'll find more light displays, stunning Christmas trees and a pop up festive cocktail bar. There will also be visits from Santa and Mrs Claus on November 28th, and December 5th, 12th and 19th from 11am to 4pm. Santa visits are free of charge and are on a first come, first served basis, but for those wishing to reserve a time with Santa a St Nick Express family pass is available for a fee. 

Union Station kicks of the holiday season with the Grand Illumination on November 26th. This event  starts at 5pm and features the lighting of the 40ft Christmas tree outside the station, festive performances, a visit from Santa and Mrs Claus, and the start of the Merry & Bright light show. You can see our visit to check out the lights at Union Station last year here.

Merry & Bright light show runs nightly from November 26th through December 27th.

For more information about the festivities at Union Station visit

Parade of Lights
Denver's annual holiday parade is back again this year after a hiatus last year due to you know what. The holiday parade takes place on Saturday December 4th at 6pm with a 2 mile route that includes Tremont, Arapahoe, 15th and 17th Streets. You can find the map here. The parade will feature all the favorites including marching bands, dance troupes, parade floats, equestrian groups, Major Waddles the Penguin and, of course, Santa. Parade floats will be displayed throughout Downtown Denver for the month of December.

For more information visit https://www.winterindenver.com/parade.

Snow Much Fun in Boulder
Denver isn't the only Colorado city getting in on the holiday fun. Boulder comes alive with twinkling lights throughout the holidays as part of the Snow Much Fun event. Each night from November 21st to January 9th Downtown Boulder and the Civic area light up with thousands of dazzling lights hung from trees and structures. Walk among the candy cane forest, cross the rainbow lit bridge, play in the Let it Snow playground, walk the rainbow road, and so much more. Fridays in December include free train rides around the park, refreshments and caroling. While in Boulder don't forget to look up toward the mountains where the Flagstaff Star shines over the city as it has done every holiday season since 1947.

For more information visit https://bouldercolorado.gov/events/snow-much-fun

Louisville Parade of Lights
This one is our local holiday parade and it's back after a year away. Held on historic Main Street, Louisville, this holiday tradition has delighted locals for over 30 years and features all the parade classics including marching bands, lighted floats, dance troupes, beloved characters, and of course, Santa himself. This year's event will be held on December 3rd with festivities kicking off at 5:30pm. There will be food and drinks on offer as well as family friendly entertainment before the main event, the parade, starts at 7pm. Visitors can also check out WinterSkate in nearby Steinbaugh Pavilion which is open for outdoor ice skating through February 14th.

For more information on the Parade of Lights click here. To make a booking for WinterSkate click here.    

Winter Wanderland at Cherry Creek
Each holiday season Denver's Cherry Creek neighborhood lights up with 16 blocks of festive light displays, a holiday market and weekend entertainment. The highlight of the light displays is an display called Domino Effect which features 120 giant lighted musical dominoes that visitors can play with. Set the dominoes up and knock them down to set off a chain reaction of light, movement and color. We recently checked it out and the kids couldn't get enough of giant dominoes.

Winter Wanderland's light displays and Domino Effect run from November 18th through December 31st. 

Cherry Creek Holiday Market runs from November 18th through December 24th. Hours vary depending on the day.

Cherry Creek hosts a Chanukah celebration with a menorah lighting, fire jugglers, hot drinks, latkes and sufganiyots takes place on November 28th at 5pm.


Downtown Denver Rink
Downtown Denver's outdoor ice skating rink is back again this year with ice skating fun for the whole family. This little rink is located just off 16th Street Mall behind the bell tower and is available on a first come, first served basis for free. If you don't have your own skates to wear, rentals are available on site for a small fee. Skate among the towering skyscrapers and the twinkling lights that come to life as the sun sets. In the evenings you'll be able to watch the illuminations on the nearby clock tower as you skate.

Downtown Denver Rink is open from November 24th to February 20th with hours varying between 10am and 10pm depending on the day. 

For more information visit https://www.winterindenver.com/rink.

Olde Golden Christmas
The town of Golden really knows how to celebrate the holiday season with a wealth of activities on offer for locals and visitors alike. Thousands of twinkling lights illuminate parks and historic buildings each night from December 1st through February 15th. Historic Washington Avenue lights up with the annual Candlelight Walk on December 3rd at 6:30pm. Children and adults alike will find joy in the annual Olde Golden Holiday Parade which takes place on December 11th at10:30am. All sorts of fun festivities follow the parade include horse and carriage rides, visits with Santa and even Newfoundland dog carriage rides. 

There's so much more on offer throughout the holidays in Golden so make sure to visit https://www.visitgolden.com/olde-golden-christmas/ to check out all the events. 

Lights throughout Downtown Denver
You don't have to attend a Christmas event to take in the festive cheer! With holiday light displays all around the city, an evening stroll or drive in Denver is all it takes to see some stunning lights. 16th Street Mall, Larimer Square and Civic Park are some of my favorite places to check out holiday lights. An easy walk that takes in lots of holiday cheer is to start at Civic Park where you can visit the Christkindl Market and watch the colorful illuminations on Denver City Council building, and then head towards 16th Street Mall where the lights twinkle overhead and on each tree and light pole. You'll find lighting displays and parade floats near Denver Pavilions and a little further down you'll find the Mile High Tree. Head a little further east and you'll see the Daniels & Fischer clocktower illuminated as well as light displays in Skyline Park. Take a detour down Larimer Street for more twinkling lights and outdoor dining before continuing down 16th Street Mall to Wynkoop Street. Turn right on Wynkoop Street and you'll find yourself at Union Street Station with the illuminations on the façade, Christmas trees, light displays and maybe even Santa if you time it right. You can see our holiday walk through Downtown Denver here.

Ok, that's a LOT of holiday fun to keep you busy this festive season, but I'll be making sure to update this post when I find more. Trust me, there were tons more that I didn't manage to fit in here!

Do you have a favorite holiday event or display in Colorado? I'd love to hear so make sure to leave a comment below.

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