Holiday Activities in Denver, CO
This popular outdoor lighting display at the Botanic Gardens at York Street gets better every year. More than a million miniature and regular colored bulbs blossom on trees, plants, walls and waterfalls along the curved pathways of this romantic winter city venue. Spotlights and fresh snow add more drama to the beauty of this creative landscape of lights. In the amphitheater, lights flash to the beat of holiday songs; and if you look through the provided HoloSpex glasses, lights magically transform into shimmering 3-D shapes. As you stroll through the gardens, look for surprise little nooks for you to steal a kiss from your sweetie. Then cuddle up with a warm drink and treats. Open nightly from the first weekend in December though January 1.
The traditions of German holidays fill Skyline Park in downtown Denver during Christkindl Market. Lovely handmade ornaments, candles, lace products, wood carvings, jewelry and gifts from European artisans are sold at the pedestrian market, similar to the holiday markets held in town squares in European countries. The best part may be the food, such as Austrian and Dutch breads and pastries, German apple Strudel, roasted nuts, and salmon — all ready to eat with Gluewein (spiced mulled wine) or cider in the heated tent. The 700--year-old tradition of Christkindl celebrates the Christkind (Christ Child), the traditional bearer of gifts on Christmas Eve in German-speaking areas of Europe who takes the form of an angel with blond hair and wings. The spirit makes appearances throughout the market held from Thanksgiving weekend through December 23, put on by the German American Chamber of Commerce.
If you like an old-fashioned Christmas with roasted chestnuts, wassail and high tea, you’ll love Georgetown’s European celebration. For 51 years, the little mountain town less than an hour west of Denver has put on this traditional holiday market that’s right out of a scene from Dickens’ Christmas Carol. A horse-drawn wagon takes you through the historic streets flanked by Victorian homes. You’ll see old-time St. Nicholas in the Santa Lucia procession, carolers in Victorian costumes, and dancers and entertainment. Besides the extensive outdoor market with handmade gifts and food, shops and museums are open for buying and browsing. It’s a great time to visit the quaint town; Colorado families make it part of their holiday traditions. Open the first and second weekends in December.
Fireworks exploding from two directions at the same time on the 16th Street Mall in downtown Denver light up the night sky like a collision of stars. Two shows — at 9 p.m. and again at midnight — give revelers not one but two opportunities to ring in the New Year in spectacular fashion. Complete the evening with downtown parties, such as the Grand Hyatt’s annual “Grandest New Year’s Eve party,” The Tavern’s “Olive Drop,” or Lannie’s Clocktower Cabaret show. Downtown Denver is completely walkable, so you never have to get in your car. Hotels offer killer NYE deals like the Hyatt’s party/overnight package for $389 for two and extravagant getaways like the Oxford’s Presidential Suite with Champagne, five-course dinner, breakfast in bed, couples massage and personal butler for $3,000.
The Mile High City’s kickoff for the holiday season comes with much fanfare in the fabulous annual Parade of Lights on the first weekend nights of December. The parade marches for two miles along the streets of downtown Denver, thrilling spectators who line sidewalks four and five people deep. The free event features giant balloons, huge lighted floats, marching bands and all the favorite holiday characters. Those wanting to sit in grandstands can buy tickets online in advance. The grandstands are next to Civic Center Park where the City and County Building Christmas lights are now synchronized to music, a new feature to this long-standing tradition.