Celebrating the holidays in Denver? Trust us, you’ll have snow much fun! Speaking of the fluffy white stuff, the Mile High City tends to fare well when it comes to having a White Christmas. Overall, we’ve got a 38% chance of having snow on Christmas Day, according to historical weather data. This is a city that loves to get in the Christmas spirit. Even better? Denver loves to keep the warm fuzzies flowing into the new year. City dwellers aren’t in a rush to take down their Christmas lights after the holiday. There’s an unwritten rule about leaving them up until the National Western Stock Show, which kicks off in January.
Here are 6 fun ways to celebrate the holiday season in Denver. Mark your calendars!
See the Tree, Hit the Holiday Market and Go Skating for Free
You can find a stunning, 40-foot-tall Christmas tree inside Union Station, a renovated and historic train depot in the heart of downtown that echoes a bygone era. It’s also a great spot for snapping photos. Hoping to get your official Santa photos? Santa stops by every Sunday for a meet-and-greet. If you still have some shopping to do, Union Station also hosts a huge Holiday Market boasting Colorado’s best makers and artisan brands. The Union Station Holiday market features music, food, drinks and of course, lots of shopping.
Dates: The tree is free and open to the public 7 days a week through the holidays. Visits with Santa are free and open to the public, every Sunday through Dec. 23 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The Market requires a ticket: $5 for adults, children under 12 are free. Market tickets are good for the entire weekend they’re purchased. The Market is open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through Dec. 16.
Insider Tip: Just down the street from Union Station, there is free ice skating at the rink at Skyline Park. The rink opened the Tuesday prior to Thanksgiving and will stay open until Feb. 3.
Attend a Tuba Holiday Concert
Every year, more than 200 tuba players gather in Denver to play Christmas songs like “Here Comes Santa Claus” and “Jingle Bells” at a free concert. The crowd, of course, is invited to sing along with the brass. TubaChristmas concerts happen throughout the world, and they started 45 years ago by a tuba player as a tribute to his teacher and mentor who was born on Christmas Day. Here in Denver, you can expect to see high school band members playing alongside senior citizens.
Date: Dec. 16 at 12:30 p.m.
Location: Denver Performing Arts Complex
Insider tip: Not only does TubaChristmas happen in Denver, but in other Colorado cities as well, on different dates. You can find the full Colorado schedule here. Other locations include Colorado Springs, Fort Collins, Grand Junction, and Pueblo.
Take Part in a Candle Walk or Watch a Parade at ‘Olde Golden Christmas’
Golden, a historic mining town and the gateway to the mountains, dials up the nostalgia with its holiday celebrations. The holidays kick off here with a candlelit walk and singalong down Washington Avenue from 15th Street to 10th Street, where Santa and the mayor turn on the lights that glow throughout the season in this picturesque Colorado town. Golden also hosts three free parades leading up to Christmas. You just might spot elves on unicycles and the Grinch in his corvette, as well as hear tunes from barbershop quartets and Victorian carolers. Hot cider is a staple that’s available to warm up the crowd.
Dates: Multiple events; Candlelight Walk 6 to 9 p.m. on Nov. 30; Olde Golden Christmas Parades, 10:30 a.m. to 11:15 a.m. on Dec. 1, Dec. 8 and Dec. 15
Location: Washington Avenue in downtown Golden
Insider tip: After the parades, you can run into Santa and Mrs. Claus having lunch at Old Capitol Grill & Smokehouse, 1122 Washington Ave. They hang out there from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on parade days. Find more information here.
See the ‘Zoo Lights’
The Denver Zoo—all 70 acres of it—gets decked in holiday lights. The zoo goes all out, with more than 2 million lights shining. You’ll even be able to spot playful, illuminated animal sculptures swinging from trees or playing peek-a-boo from the bushes. Zoo-goers can also interact with some of the animals. It costs extra, but you can feed some of the zoo’s giraffes.
Dates: 5:30 – 8:30 p.m. on Friday to Sunday nights from Nov. 30 to Jan. 6 (closed on Christmas Day).
Location: Denver Zoo, 2300 Steele St. Denver, CO 80205
Insider tip: You’ll want to buy your tickets online and in advance as a limited amount of tickets are sold each night, and this cherished event oftentimes sells out.
Find more information here.
Catch a Holiday Show at the Denver Performing Arts Complex
You’ve got your pick of holiday classics at Denver’s theater complex: You can opt for a classic like Irving Berlin’s musical “White Christmas” (Dec. 5 to 15) or see Scrooge and company star in “A Christmas Carol” (Nov. 21 to Dec. 24). Another option? LOL at David Sedaris’ story of an elf working at a department store in “The Santaland Diaries” (Nov. 23 – Dec. 24). Of course if you have your visions of sugar plums dancing in your head, you can make your way to the ballet and watch Colorado Ballet’s rendition of the “Nutcracker” (Nov. 24 to Dec. 24).
Dates: Multiple dates from now until Dec. 24.
Location: Denver Performing Arts Complex, 1400 Curtis Street, Denver, CO 80204.
Insider tip: The dress code for the theater is casual, since Denver is a laid-back town. But feel free to get dressed up if you’d like. You can find other first-timer theater tips here.
Find more information here.
Shop the Christkindl Market
Shopping is more fun with apple strudels and Glühwein in hand, right? Take a break from the packed malls and enjoy a European-inspired market that pops up in the heart of Denver. Artisans sell unique gifts at the market, which also boasts German cuisine and live music.
Dates: 1515 Arapahoe St. Denver, CO. 80202
Location: Nov. 16 to Dec. 23. Hours vary. They are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thanksgiving Day. Hours will extend to 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily Dec. 17 to 23.
More information: Find more information here.
Insider tip: Pets are allowed at the market, just make sure they are on a leash.
To learn more about things to do in the Mile High City, check out Eave’s free Insider’s Guide to Denver, written by our neighborhood experts!