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Wednesday, 16 November 2022

Christmas in Denver 2022

The holiday season is upon us, and Denver sure knows how to celebrate!

There's something extra magical about the holidays here in Denver. The city lights up with twinkling lights, there are immersive displays and exhibitions, fun events for all ages, holiday markets, and so much more.

Today I'm sharing more than 20 of my favorite family friendly holiday activities in and around Denver. In this post you'll find details for:
πŸŽ„ Blossoms of Light at Denver Botanic Gardens
✨ Trail of Lights at Chatfield Gardens
πŸŽ„ Christmas at Gaylord Rockies
✨ Camp Christmas
πŸŽ„ Luminova Holidays at Elitch Gardens
✨ Zoo Lights at Denver Zoo
πŸŽ„ Denver's Mile High Tree
✨ Christmas in Color
πŸŽ„ Denver Christkindl Market
✨ A Hudson Christmas
πŸŽ„ Denver's Union Station
✨ Parade of Lights
πŸŽ„ Winter Wanderland at Cherry Creek
✨ Downtown Denver Rink
πŸŽ„ Light the Lights at Denver City Council Building
✨ The Immersive Nutcracker
πŸŽ„ Dr Seuss Experience
✨ Light up the Holidays in Boulder
πŸŽ„ Olde Golden Christmas
✨ The Polar Express at Colorado Railroad Museum
πŸŽ„ Berthoud Snow Fest 

Let's take a look...

Luminova Holidays
Denver's Mile High Tree
Denver City Council Building
Gaylord Rockies
Denver's Union Station
Camp Christmas
Blossoms of Light at Denver Botanic Gardens
Glacier Point at Gaylord Rockies
Zoo Lights at Denver Zoo
Denver Christkindl Market
Berthoud Snow Fest
Christmas in Color

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 18th to January 7th (closed November 24th 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. 

Blossoms of Light at Denver Botanic Gardens
Blossoms of Light at Denver Botanic Gardens
Blossoms of Light at Denver Botanic Gardens

Trail of Lights
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 25th through January 1st (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 the ever popular ICE! immersive exhibit is back. Visitors don giant blue parkas and enter a frozen wonderland of colorful ice sculptures, ice slides and so much more. This year's ICE! exhibit features Charlie Brown, Snoopy and all the beloved Peanuts characters. 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, here and here.

Christmas activities at Gaylord Rockies run from November 18th through January 1st. Times vary depending on the activity.


So Much Christmas at Gaylord Rockies
So Much Christmas at Gaylord Rockies

Camp Christmas
Camp Christmas was one of our favorite holiday events last year and we're excited to see it return again this year at Belmar Lakewood Heritage Park. 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 (think a "gum tree" decorated with bubble gum wrappers and a "pal tree" decorated with hands) among the dazzling light and memorabilia exhibits, and visitors can listen to a free audio tour as they collect virtual Merry Badges. The Camp Carousel is included free with entry. You can see our previous visit to Camp Christmas here.

Camp Christmas runs from November 17th through December 24th with hours varying depending on the day.  

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

Camp Christmas
Camp Christmas
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. You can see our visit to Luminova here and here.   

Luminova Holidays runs from November 25th through January 1st from 5pm to 10pm. 

Tickets can be purchased in advance online at https://www.elitchgardens.com/luminova-holidays/.

Luminova Holidays at Elitch Gardens
Luminova Holidays at Elitch Gardens
Luminova Holidays at Elitch Gardens

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 December 3rd through January 15th with hours varying depending on the day. Denver Zoo members get early access to Zoo Lights from November 21st to December 2nd.


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

Zoo Lights at Denver Zoo
Zoo Lights at Denver Zoo
Zoo Lights at Denver Zoo

Denver's Mile High Tree
The Mile High Tree is back again this year with a new location and once again it is free of charge. This year the Mile High Tree will be on display in Civic Center Park along with the Christkindl Market. 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

For more information and hours visit https://www.denver.org/milehighholidays/tree/

Denver's Mile High Tree
Denver's Mile High Tree
Denver's Mile High Tree

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! You can see our visit here.

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 18th through January 1st from 5:30pm to 10pm.

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

Christmas in Color
Christmas in Color
Christmas in Color

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 18th 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/.

Denver Christkindl Market
Krampusnacht at Denver Christkindl Market
Denver Christkindl Market

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 visit Hudson Gardens for Magic of the Jack O'Lanterns last year, and based on that I can imagine that this event must be just as spectacular. 

A Hudson Christmas runs on select days from November 25th through to December 31st from 5pm to 9:30pm. 

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

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 faΓ§ade 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 27th, and December 4th, 11th and 18th 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 25th. 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 25th through December 26th.

For more information about the festivities at Union Station visit

Denver's Union Station
Denver's Union Station
Denver's Union Station

Parade of Lights
Denver's annual holiday parade is always a crowd pleaser. The holiday parade takes place on Saturday December 3rd 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.

Parade of Lights
Parade of Lights
Parade of Lights

Winter Wanderland at Cherry Creek
Each holiday season Denver's Cherry Creek neighborhood lights up with Winter Wanderland which includes 16 blocks of festive light displays, a holiday market and weekend entertainment. The highlight of the light displays is an interactive display called LAPS: A Journey Through Time which features 6 giant lighted musical hourglasses that visitors can play with. Last year's interactive display, which you can see below, featured giant musical dominoes. You can see them in action here

Winter Wanderland's light displays and Domino Effect run from November 17th through December 24th. 

Cherry Creek Holiday Market runs from November 17th 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 December 18th at 5pm.


Winter Wanderland at Cherry Creek
Winter Wanderland at Cherry Creek

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 21st to February 14th with hours varying between 10am and 10pm depending on the day. 

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

Downtown Denver Rink
Downtown Denver Rink

Light the Lights at Denver City Council Building
Denver's City Council Building is gorgeous any time of year, but during the holidays it comes to life with a colorful light display in the evenings. Beginning on November 23rd and running through January 22nd, the façade of the building will be lit up until 10:45pm most evenings (no lights December 21st). At 5:45pm and 6:45pm Tuesdays through Sundays there will be an 8 minute long light and music show for a little extra sparkle and magic.

For more information click here.

Denver City Council Building
Denver City Council Building

Lights throughout 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 Mile High Tree, 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 faΓ§ade, Christmas trees, light displays and maybe even Santa if you time it right. 

You can see our holiday walk through Downtown Denver here.

Holiday lights in Denver
Denver's Larimer Square
Holiday lights in Denver

The Immersive Nutcracker
The Nutcracker is always a holiday favorite, and this year there's a whole new way to view this classic. The Immersive Nutcracker: A Winter Miracle is a beautiful exhibition featuring 500,000 cubic feet of illuminated magic. Beloved characters dance and twirl on the walls and floor of Lighthouse Artspace in Denver. The illuminated displays are choreographed to Tchaikovsky's iconic Nutcracker suite including favorites such as "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy" and "The March of the Toys". 

Along with marveling at the illuminations, visitors will have the chance to meet a life size nutcracker and pose with the many photo props. 

For more information and to purchase tickets visit https://www.immersive-nutcracker.com/denver/.

Dr Seuss Experience
The popular Dr Seuss Experience is back for the holidays! This immersive experience takes visitors through hands on displays inspired by nine beloved Dr Seuss books including "The Cat in the Hat" and "Oh, the Places You'll Go!". Visitors will get the chance to meet characters including Sam I Am, the Grinch and his dog Max throughout the venue as well as in the Grinch's Grotto. Hands on activities include fishing for presents, making your way through a balloon maze, running and swinging through the Truffala Trees and so much more. 

Dr Seuss Experience is located in Centennial right next door to Ikea.

For more information and to purchase tickets visit https://www.experienceseuss.com/.

Dr Seuss Experience
Dr Seuss Experience
Dr Seuss Experience

Light Up the Holidays 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 Light Up the Holidays event. The festivities kick off with Switch on the Holidays on November 20th. This event starts at 5pm and includes the holiday lights being turned on at Boulder County Courthouse and along Pearl Street. 

From November 20th to January 31st Downtown Boulder and the Civic area light up with thousands of dazzling lights hung from trees and structures as well as the Snow Much Fun Virtual (AR) Experience. Using a cell phone, visitors will be able to take a self guided tour through Downtown Boulder and spot holiday characters through augmented reality. 

On December 3rd the Lights of December parade takes place at 6pm and makes its way through Downtown Boulder.

Freezie Fest takes place on December 10th from 11am to 3pm on Pearl Street and celebrates all things snowman and Winter. Visitors will be able to meet snowmen and Santa, and take free train rides.

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 about holiday events in Boulder visit https://boulderdowntown.com/light-up-the-holidays/events/lights-of-december-parade

Louisville Parade of Lights
This one is our local holiday parade. It's much smaller than the parades in Denver and Boulder but it's a sweet family event none the less. This year's parade takes place on Friday December 2nd on Main Street in Louisville. The parade itself starts at 7pm but the festivities begin at 5:30pm with holiday shopping, musical entertainment and Santa himself.  

For more information visit https://fb.me/e/345GMkzUc.


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 November 26th through February 16th. Historic Washington Avenue lights up with the annual Candlelight Walk on December 2ndat 6:30pm. Children and adults alike will find joy in the annual Olde Golden Holiday Parade which takes place on December 10th at10:30am. All sorts of fun festivities follow the parade include horse and carriage rides, visits with Santa and holiday markets.

There's so much more on offer throughout the holidays in Golden so make sure to visit

Olde Golden Christmas
Olde Golden Christmas
Olde Golden Christmas

The Polar Express at Colorado Railroad Museum
For a magical family outing, plan a visit to Colorado Railroad Museum in Golden to take a trip on The Polar Express. This popular event lasts 90 minutes and includes cabaret style entertainment, cookies and hot chocolate for all guests, a ride on a vintage steam train, and a chance to meet Santa. Each guest takes home a souvenir bell from Santa. Guests are welcome to wear their favorite holiday pajamas just like the kids in the book and movie. The cabaret show and train are both heated, but don't forget a jacket for while waiting to board the train.

The Polar Express runs nightly from November 11th to December 23rd with events at 5pm, 6:30pm and 8pm.     

You can see our ride on the Polar Express here.

Tickets can be purchased in advance at https://coloradorailroadmuseum.org/polar-express/. This event sells out every year so make sure to book ASAP. 

The Polar Express at Colorado Railroad Museum
The Polar Express at Colorado Railroad Museum
The Polar Express at Colorado Railroad Museum

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. This year the event will actually be held after the holidays kicking off on January 11th when teams begin carving their sculptures. The main event is held on January 14th when judging takes place. There will be a market set up and fun activities including snow carving lessons for kids. Depending on the weather the sculptures will remain on display for the following week. We visited a few years back 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/.

Berthoud Snow Fest
Berthoud Snow Fest


Do you have a favorite holiday event in Denver? Did I miss any? I'll make sure to update this post if I learn of new events.

Enjoy the holiday season!

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