The gourds are gone, the wreaths are out, and Kosi 101.1 is playing nonstop Christmas music – Denver Christmas is here!
I love everything about Christmas season. Sweaters, cocoa, cookies, cheer. Sledding, Nutcracker, caroling, lights.
25 days is hardly enough to do all of the fun and festive activities that Denver has to offer. To make it easy, I’ve rounded up the top 25 things to do in Denver this Christmas season, in semi chronological order.
1. Downtown County Building Lights
Head downtown to see the Denver County Building lit in a rainbow of lights. The ‘Light the Lights’ ceremony takes place the Friday after Thanksgiving each year.
2. Lights Parade (Dec 2 @6pm)
The annual 9NEWS Parade of lights is a sight to behold. Arrive early to stake out your spot. Bring lots of blankets, a thermos, and prepare to enjoy magnificent lighted floats, dancers, and marching bands sure to put you in the holiday spirit.
3. Holiday Flea (Dec 1, 2, & 3)
Stock up on holiday gifts and sip on some holiday brews at the annual Holiday Flea market, located in the Sports Castle at 1000 Broadway. Read more at DenverFlea.com
4. Zoo Lights (Dec 1-31)
The Zoo decks the animal halls with all kinds of lights and animal sculptures. Nightly entertainment, Santa meet and greets, and animal encounters round out your experience.
5. Visit Santa’s Village at Chatfield Farms (Nov 24-Dec 24)
Each Christmas, Chatfield Farms transforms into a magical Christmas village. Enjoy hayrides, a trail of lights, holiday gifts, Santa’s Workshop, holiday tunes, and more.
6. Blossoms of Light at the Botanic Gardens (Nov 24-Jan 1)
Thousands of lights create a magical setting in the Denver Botanic Gardens on York Street. You can choose from a range of 3D-style glasses that turn the lights in snowflakes, candy canes, reindeer, and more. Hot beverages are also available for purchase as you explore the glowing gardens.
7. Ice Skating
Ice Skating is one of those quintessentially Christmas activities. Lace up a pair of skates, grab a loved one’s arm, and become a kid all over again. With rinks from Lakewood to Stapleton, there’s one near you.
8. Santa’s Big Red Sack @Avenue Theatre (Dec 1-24)
Indulge in some adult holiday humor through a series of witty and clever holiday-themed skits. Candy and adult beverages available for purchase to enhance your viewing experience. Tickets available online for $27.50 per person; worth every penny.
9. Georgetown Christmas Market (Dec 2, 3, 9, and 10)
A short drive from Denver, Georgetown will be hosting its 57th Annual Christmas Market the first two weekends of December from 10am to 5pm. Modeled after the Outdoor Christmas Markets of Europe, you’ll be transported abroad with free entertainment, hot roasted chestnuts, horse-drawn wagon rides, appearances by St. Nicholas, holiday shopping, carolers, and more. Admission is free.
10. The Brown Palace
The historic Brown Palace Hotel & Spa allows you to step back in time to an era of glamor and luxury. Established in 1892, the Brown Palace goes all out for Christmas season, with tall Christmas trees and awe-inspiring decor. Book your staycation, or stop by for a drink or meal at one of the 6 restaurants and bars.
11. Tiny House Holiday Village (Dec 9 & 10)
Tiny Homes will be taking over Northfield Station the weekend of December 9 and 10. The Tiny House Holiday Village will offer an inside look into the tiny home movement and exquisite local craftsmanship, all while decorated for the holiday season. Guided tours are available at 10am each day for $5.
12. The Nutcracker (Nov 25-Dec 24)
A holiday favorite for the whole family. From sugarplum fairies to Tchaikovsky’s extraordinary score, this year’s rendition of the Nutcracker is sure to please. Performances take place at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House; book now as tickets will sell out.
13. Hammond’s Candy Tours (Monday through Saturday)
Visit the place where sweet dreams come true. Hammond’s Candy, a local Denver business, offers half-hour tours through their factory. Transport yourself to a real life Santa’s workshop, where the candy is sweet and the elves are friendly. Book your visit 24 hours in advance.
14. Downtown Festival of Lights (Dec 14 @6pm)
Whether you are a family that celebrates Chrismakkuh or you simply want to learn more about Hanukkah, head downtown to Champa street for the 7th annual Festival of Lights. The Colorado Hebrew Chorale and the Denver Jewish Day School Glee Club will perform.
15. A Christmas Carol (Nov 24-Dec 24)
Come see this musical Christmas classic, sure to exorcise any Scrooge-like feelings and replace them with a new lease on this joyful season. Tickets available here.
16. The Santaland Diaries (Nov 27-Dec 27)
You are in for an evening of entertainment. Crumpet the Elf returns to the stage at the Denver Performing arts center for another season of laughs and jingles, featuring David Sedaris’s “off-beat tales from his stint as a Macy’s elf in New York City.” Reserve your seats here.
17. Star Wars – The Last Jedi (Opens Dec 15)
Okay so I am not sure that Star Wars is explicitly ‘Christmassy’, but given the annual tradition of a December release, book your tickets for a midnight or matinee showing. Guaranteed to make your man happy.
18. Ugly Sweater Run (Dec 16 @11am)
Don your favorite ugly sweater and run off some of those Christmas cookies at this annual 5k in downtown Denver. Sign up here.
19. Santa Stampede (Dec 16)
If you live farther south, sign up for the Santa Stampede 5k or 10k instead. The race course is a flat route along the South Platte River in Littleton. The 5k starts at 9am, the 10k starts at 10:15am, or you can challenge yourself and run both! Sign up here.
20. Christkindl market (Nov 17-Dec 23)
The Christkindl Market makes for a perfectly festive afternoon – with mulled wine, giant pretzels, food trucks, artisans, and live entertainment. The market is held at Skyline Park on 16th St and Arapahoe. Pro-tip: Take an Uber to avoid the parking hassle.
21. Union Station
With its towering Christmas tree and decadent decor, Union Station is the ideal spot for a holiday date night in December. Enjoy the buzz of the rail station vibe downstairs at Terminal Bar, or head upstairs to Cooper’s Lounge for a swanky cocktail.
22. Ride the Train to the North Pole (Nov 18-Dec 31)
All aboard! Hop on the Georgetown Loop Railroad to channel your inner Platform 9 & 3/4 or Polar Express loving, childlike self. Choose between the North Pole Adventure or Santa’s Lighted Forest. Book your tickets here.
23. Cherry Creek Mall
It’s not Christmas without Santa. Line up to sit on Santa’s lap, or simply enjoy the festive atmosphere as you check off some holiday shopping.
24. Disney on Ice (Dec 7-10)
Make a child’s day and take them to Disney on Ice’s Follow Your Heart show at the Pepsi Center. Tickets available here.
25. New Year’s Eve Fireworks
Cap off your Christmas season with an inspiring pyrotechnic display on New Year’s Eve. Shuttle services will stop at 8pm and DJs will line the 16th Street mall, synchronizing tunes with the two firework displays, one at 9pm and one at Midnight.