Christmas in Colorado Destinations and Festivities

Christmas in Colorado is a special time of the year. Snow blankets twinkling holiday lights. Outdoor ice skating rinks open for the winter. Kids hit the sledding hills. Ski lifts begin turning. And, crackling fires and hot cocoa warm cold hands.

Full of picturesque, snow-covered towns and beautiful mountain views, Colorado is truly magical at Christmastime. Each town has its own traditions and special events. Here are a few of our favorites.

Insider Tip: Here are a few of our secret sledding stashes throughout Colorado.

Ice sculptures in Snowmass, Colorado during the holidays.

Christmas in Denver

From parades to holiday light spectaculars, Denver really gets into the holiday spirit. We couldn’t talk about Christmas in Colorado without covering Denver.

Grand Hall at Denver’s Union Station with the Christmas tree rising to the upper levels.

At Denver’s Union Station, the holiday season starts the beginning of November when decorations start going up. And, it officially kicks off the holidays with the Grand Illumination the day after Thanksgiving. This is typically followed by visits with Santa, holiday performances and more.

Gaylord Christmas in Denver is one not to miss. From the stunning Gaylord ICE display to snow tubing, ice skating and even ice bumper cars, the fun is endless.

Zoo Lights at the Denver Zoo: Enjoy 80 acres of two million sparkling Christmas lights, night time viewings of cold weather animals, warm up in the Tropical Discovery building, and support wildlife at Zoo Lights at the Denver Zoo.

Ice Skating at Skyline Park: Free ice skating during the holiday season is a fun way to spend part of your day! Bring your own skates and it’s free. Skate rentals are available and so are skate walkers for new or inexperienced skaters.

Blossoms of Light at the Denver Botanic Gardens : A gorgeous display of LED lights, Blossoms of Light has been a cornerstone event at the Gardens for more than 30 years. Enjoy a lit walk through the gardens and start a new tradition this holiday season.

Insider Tip: Other winter wonderland holiday light extravaganzas can be found throughout the U.S.

Blossoms of Lights at the Denver Botanic Gardens.

Christmas in Colorado Springs

Colorado Springs may be best known for Pikes Peak and the Air Force Academy. But it has lot of festival holiday activities too.

Santa Express Train : Hop a ride to the North Pole via Colorado’s Royal Gorge Route Railroad! Ride the Santa Express train and each ticketed child will get to meet Santa on board and receive a special gift as well as enjoy cookies and hot cocoa.

Insider Tip: If you take the Santa train, consider staying the night at the Royal Gorge Cabins. The cabins offer views of dark skies, hot drinks and cozy fires just minutes from the train depot in Cañon City.

Cheyenne Mountain Zoo’s Electric Safari: Voted the third best Zoo Lights in the United States for the last two years, 2021 marks 31 years for the Electric Safari. Featured are more than 60 light sculptures, including new illuminated inflatable animals!

Christmas Underground : In nearby Manitou Springs, experience holiday cheer in an unexpected location: underground! Holiday colors light the caverns in Cave of the Winds as you enjoy Christmas stories and carols and you can even meet Santa.

snowmass is one of our favorite christmas in colorado destinations
Views from Snowmass Mountain, one of the four Aspen ski resorts.

Christmas in Aspen & Snowmass

Aspen at Christmas has much to offer visitors. We’ve had the pleasure of visiting the area just before Christmas and it is a special time of the year to be there. Typically fresh snow blankets the town and ski slopes. Ice sculptures, light displays and ice skating make the evenings special.

12 Days of Aspen: Along with opportunities to ice skate, walk snow trails, ski and snowboard, or watch a curling match, Aspen offers tons of local holiday events in their 12 Days of Aspen. From tours of historic buildings to crafts, concerts and food, you’ll have tons to keep you busy between December 20th and December 31st.

Glory Hole Park: For a quaint, quiet, picturesque moment, visit the ducks at Glory Hole Park in downtown Aspen. You can also walk a few trails and enjoy the snow covered trees and quiet atmosphere.

Insider Tip: Snowmass Mountain is our favorite family ski mountain, and ski village in the area. From wonderful dining to fun ice skating and outdoor fire pits there’s plenty of family fun.

Snowmass Luminescence.

Christmas in Durango

Polar Express Train Ride: Listed as one of the top Christmas towns in the United States, Durango is full of holiday cheer. Only during the holiday season is the Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad transformed into the Polar Express train ride for a truly memorable way to celebrate Christmas. 

You’ll enjoy a sweet treat with hot chocolate while the conductor reads  The Polar Express. Upon arrival at the North Pole, enjoy an amazing light show timed with holiday music. Then on the way home, Santa will hand out a gift to the passengers.

Ski Purgatory: Located just out of town, Ski Purgatory is a favorite local ski mountain. It is home to one of Colorado’s alpine mountain coasters. There’s also nearby Silverton for more advanced skiers.

Vail winter is sure to be as beautiful as ever
Vail’s epic ski slopes is only one of the festive holiday activities.

Christmas in Vail

We’ve saved one of our favorite Christmas in Colorado destinations for last.

Vail winter is best known for its epic ski mountain. Adventure Ridge located at the top of Vail Mountain offers a fantastic variety of winter activities,. These include snow biking, a slippery slope of rip-roaring tubing lanes and more. From sledding, snowshoeing and horse-drawn sleigh rides to enjoying hot cocoa or s’mores by the fire there is something for everyone.

The Magic of Vail, tree lightings and other holiday celebrations make it an ideal place to spend the holidays.

Christmas in Colorado Destinations and Festivities

Liana Moore

Liana Moore is a third-culture kid with a hangover from those days that is a severe case of wanderlust. She is more comfortable driving the cliffs of Amalfi, Italy or the dirt roads of Costa Rica or attempting to decipher the street signs of Osaka, Japan than navigating the theme parks of Disney World. But she loves it all. She doesn't believe a vacation is complete without an adventure. Her husband and kids know well that "adventure" often is code for mishap or challenge and it usually results in a good story. They seek outdoor experiences whether in the mountains, on a beach or in the jungle of a tropical country. Her favorite vacation is... all the ones she hasn't yet taken, as well as those she plans on taking again. And, that list is so, so long. But she continues to extensively explore her home state of Colorado, spends lots of time wandering Texas, California, New Mexico, Costa Rica, Mexico, Norway and has even explored Kazakhstan.

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