The snow is falling, papers are piling up, the kids and/or dogs are restless, and you’re ready to get outside.
Wait, that was May.
Let’s start over. The month of December in Denver is actually unique for copious reasons.
We live in what I like to imagine as the citified North Pole. We have snow-capped mountains (in the distance), quaint Christmas lights (on skyscraper balconies), and plenty of (possibly chemically-induced) holiday cheer.
The air is probably a little smokier and there are likely a few hundred more Santas than the real deal location up North, but that’s beside the point. Denver is a winter wonderland with a slew of events and activities that will leave you wishing we were stuck in a magical time loop in between Thanksgiving and New Year’s forever. Bring on the peppermint mocha lattes and high-pitched carolers!
P.S. If you need a little help getting in the holiday spirit, I recommend standing under the lights on Larimer Street around 7 p.m. and humming “Jingle Bells” before dipping into the Green Russell. Or, you know, participating in any of the following activities.
Top 10 Holiday Activities in Denver
Watch the Parade of Lights. A well-known holiday tradition in Denver, this event could be said to kick off the season for those who insist on waiting until after Thanksgiving to celebrate. The two-mile downtown parade route features bands, floats and, of course, Santa. You can see it on Dec. 5 or 6.
Visit the Southwest Rink at Skyline Park. Located at 16th and Arapahoe, the ice skating rink is open from Nov. 25 to Feb. 16. Skating is free, and skate rentals are only $2, making this a great budget-friendly family activity. BYOH (Bring your own helmet).
Sign up for the Rudolph Ramble 5k. The 5k race/walk and kids fun run will be on Sunday, Dec. 7 at City Park. It’s sure to be cold, so your nose may be shiny red by the end just like our beloved reindeer (yikes!). Nonetheless, it’s a fun way to keep active during the season of egg nog, candy canes and sugar cookies. The Ugly Sweater Run is another festive option.
Attend the Denver Beer Festivus on Dec. 13. This wouldn’t be a holiday list unique to Denver if it didn’t include local breweries. We are, after all, one of the top 10 beer cities in the world, according to USA Today. Bottoms up, Santa!
Tour the Celestial Seasonings factory. Surprisingly enough, not all beverage tours here include beer. We’re lucky that this renowned specialty tea manufacturer—one of the largest in North America—is located a short drive away in Boulder! Touring the facilities and sampling hot tea is an ideal activity for a frosty December day with family or friends.
See a holiday show downtown. Whether you’re into the ballet or musicals, Denver has it all! The Colorado Ballet’s “The Nutcracker” will be at the Ellie Caulkins Opera House from Nov. 29 to Dec. 27. “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” the musical, will be in production at Buell Theater from Dec. 17 to Dec. 28.
Go on a holiday safari at Zoo Lights. Every night starting at 5:30 p.m. from Dec. 5 to Jan.4, the Denver Zoo will turn into a holiday wonderland of lights and animal sculptures. Grab a hot chocolate and wander through the park in wonder. The Denver Botanic Gardens also does “Blossoms of Light” beginning Dec. 5.
Sip and paint, holiday style. Lawyers can be artists, too. I mean, anyone can be an artist with a little liquid courage. What? This Sipping N Painting studio in LoHi guides customers through painting a themed work of art. And, your first glass of wine or beer is included in the ticket price. Upcoming holiday themes include: Elf on the Shelf, Christmas Tree, Red Mittens, Lift Love, Frosty, and Cozy Cabin.
Visit the Horseshoe Holiday Market. This one is for all of the Pinterest lovers out there: The Horseshoe Holiday Market is like the popular social network in 3D! It will take place on Dec. 13 and 14, at the historic Highlands Masonic Temple at 35th and Federal, and will feature more than 60 local handmade and vintage vendors. Stop by the market for sweet treats and unique holiday gifts.
Hammond’s Candy Cane Festival. According to the movie Elf, the four main food groups are candy, candy canes, candy corn, and syrup. Although that doesn’t really align with USDA guidelines (which are supposedly more credible), a little sugary holiday cheer is necessary. Your kids will thank me. The festival on Dec. 12 and 13 includes free candy, a bouncy house, carriage rides, and Santa.