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Friday 17 November 2023

22+ Holiday Events in Denver 2023

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
❄️ Christmas at Gaylord Rockies
πŸŽ„ Camp Christmas
 Luminova Holidays at Elitch Gardens
❄️ Zoo Lights at Denver Zoo
πŸŽ„ Denver's Mile High Tree
✨ Krampus: Fright Before Christmas
❄️ Christmas in Color
πŸŽ„ Denver Christkindl Market
✨ A Hudson Christmas
❄️ Denver's Union Station
πŸŽ„ Parade of Lights
✨ Downtown Denver Rink
❄️ Light the Lights at Denver City Council Building
πŸŽ„ Lights throughout Denver
 Winter Wanderland at Cherry Creek
❄️ Light up the Holidays in Boulder
πŸŽ„ Louisville Parade of Lights
✨ Olde Golden Christmas
❄️The Polar Express at Colorado Railroad Museum
πŸŽ„ Ice Castles
 
Let's take a look and make sure to read through to the end for a Winter favorite that makes a return this year! 


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 17th to January 7th (closed November 23rd and December 25th) from 4:30pm to 9pm. 

Tickets are $25 for adults, $21 for children (ages 3 - 15), and children ages 2 and under are admitted free of charge. 


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
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 on various evenings from November 24th through January 1st (closed on December 25th) from 5pm to 8:30pm. 

Tickets are $16 for adults, $12 for children (ages 3 - 15), and children ages 2 and under are admitted free of charge. 


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, 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 scenes from the beloved holiday movie A Christmas Story. There's also Cirque Spirit of Christmas, 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 and here.

Christmas activities at Gaylord Rockies run from November 17th through January 1st. Times vary depending on the activity.

Tickets prices vary depending on the activity and date.

Tickets can be purchased online at https://christmasatgaylordrockies.marriott.com/


Camp Christmas
Camp Christmas is always one of our favorite holiday events and I'm super excited that this year it returns to Stanley Marketplace in Aurora. Spread across 15,000sf you'll find a magical display of holiday decorations from across the decades including 23 pun trees on display (think a "gum tree" decorated with bubble gum wrappers and a "palm tree" decorated with hands), dazzling light and memorabilia exhibits, a bar featuring hot chocolate and festive cocktails, and so much more. Santa will be on site for visits (at an additional cost) and VIP tours are also available. Visitors can listen to a free audio tour as they collect virtual Merry Badges.

You can see our previous visits to Camp Christmas here, here and here.

Timed entry tickets are $14 each. Flexible tickets are $19 each. Children ages 2 and under are admitted free of charge. 

Camp Christmas is open Tuesdays through Thursdays from from November 16th 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/.


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, here and here.   

Luminova Holidays runs from November 24th through December 31st from 5pm to 10pm. 

Tickets are $24.99 per person. Children ages 2 and under are admitted free of charge. 

New this year, Luminova Holidays is included with 2023 and 2024 Elitch Gardens membership.

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


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 2nd through January 7th with hours varying depending on the day. Denver Zoo members get early access to Zoo Lights from November 24th to December 1st.

Ticket prices vary depending on the day. Tickets start at $25 for adults, $18 for children (3 - 15), and children ages 2 and under are admitted free of charge. 


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 and once again it is free of charge. Just like last 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. 

Denver's Mile High Tree is on display from November 17th through December 31st from 5pm to 10pm. 

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/


Krampus: Fright Before Christmas
If you’re into all things spooky and looking for something a little different this holiday season this festive haunted house is a must see! It’s everything you’d expect from a haunted house with lots of holiday decor and creepy Christmas characters thrown into the mix. Think Krampus, creepy elves, zombie angels, and so much more. You’ll find these festive fiends outside the haunted house too as they stroll around the grounds spooking visitors.

Fright Before Christmas is located at 3400 E52nd Street, Denver. 

Fright Before Christmas runs
 December 15th through 17th.

You can see our visit to Krampus: Fright Before Christmas here

For more information and to buy tickets visit https://13thfloorhauntedhouse.com/krampus/


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/


Sugar Science: The Science of Christmas
Got a sweet tooth and looking for something a little different to do this holiday season? The Inventing Room has you covered. This fun Denver based sweet shop combines science and sugar to create experiments that turn out absolutely delicious. Visitors will experience a chef led culinary demonstration with traditional holiday treats served with a twist of science. Each visit lasts for 45 minutes and includes 6 festive treats, a liquid nitrogen sundae, and some time in the glow in the dark room. 

Sugar Science: The Science of Christmas runs Thursdays through Sundays through December. 

Tickets are $16 each for all ages and must be purchased in advance on line. They tend to sell out quickly so don't delay if you see availability.

For more information and to purchase tickets visit https://www.tirdenver.com/sugar-science 

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 (December 5th), St Nikolaus Day with Denver Christkind on site (December 6th) Canine Christmas (November 29th), and Winter Onesieland (December 20th). 

Christkindl Market is open daily from November 17th 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/.


Hudson Holidays 
The Hudson Gardens and Events Center in Littleton is home to Hudson Holidays. 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. 

Hudson Holidays runs on select days from November 24th through to December 31st from 5pm to 9:30pm. 

The festivities continue through January with Light Up The New Year from January 2nd through January 28th.

Tickets for Hudson Holidays are $20 for adults, $15 for children (3 - 12), and children ages 2 and under are admitted free of charge.

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 26th, and December 3rd, 10th and 17th 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 24th. 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 24th through December 26th.

For more information about the festivities at Union Station visit



Parade of Lights
Denver's annual holiday parade is always a crowd pleaser. The holiday parade takes place on Saturday December 2nd 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.


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 20th to February 11th with hours varying between 10am and 10pm depending on the day. 

For more information visit https://www.winterindenver.com/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 22nd and running through January 21st, 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.


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.


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. 

Winter Wanderland's light displays run from November 16th through December 24th. 

Cherry Creek Holiday Market runs Thursdays through Sundays 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 10th at 5pm.


Elfie Selfie Land
Grab your Christmas sweaters and Santa hats - there's a new festive selfie experience popping up in Castle Rock this holiday season. Located at the Outlets at Castle Rock, Elfie Selfie Land is the perfect place to take fun holiday themed photos with cheery backdrops and props galore.   

Elfie Selfie Land opens on December 1st and runs through December 31st with hours varying depending on the day.

Tickets are $15 for adults, $12 for students, and children ages 3 and under are admitted free of charge.

For more information and to book tickets visit https://elfieselfieland.com/.

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 19th. This event starts at 5pm and includes the holiday lights being turned on at Boulder County Courthouse and along Pearl Street. 

From November 19th 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 2nd the Lights of December parade takes place at 6pm and makes its way through Downtown Boulder.

Freezie Fest takes place on December 9th 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 1st 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. It will be a special one for us this year as Mathilde will be performing at the festivities with her school choir!  



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 through February. Historic Washington Avenue lights up with the annual Candlelight Walk on December 1st at 6:30pm. Children and adults alike will find joy in the annual Olde Golden Holiday Parade which takes place on December 9th at10:30am. All sorts of fun festivities follow the parade include horse and carriage rides, visits with Santa and holiday markets. Santa also returns with other beloved holiday characters on December 16th for Jingle on the Avenue. 

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


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 on select nights from November 10th to 26th, and nightly from November 29th through 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. 


Ice Castles
After a two year hiatus, Ice Castles return to Colorado! This year, Ice Castles will have a new location south of Denver in Cripple Creek. Ice Castles has always been one of my absolute favorite Winter events in Colorado so I'm super excited that it is returning. Visitors will be amazed by the hand grown ice structures that glisten in the sun and glow at night thanks to colorful LED lights built into the ice. 

Dates for Ice Castles are yet to be released as the formation of the ice crystals that make up the structures are weather dependent, but generally the event covers Winter break through February. 

Tickets go on sale November 29th and can be purchased online.  

Tickets are $27 for adults (ages 12 and up), $21 for children (ages 4 - 11), and children aged 3 and under are admitted free of charge.

You can see our previous visits here, here and here.

For more information and to book tickets visit https://icecastles.com/colorado/.


Which events are you looking forward to this holiday season? Let me know if I've missed any of your favorites!

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