Winter makes The Mile High City sparkle. There's plenty of snowy fun this year, from a Winter Brew Fest to a rare winter concert at Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre. Denver is also the world's largest après ski town. It's a great place to gear up, find deals and acclimatize before you hit the higher Rocky Mountain ski slopes of Colorado. You can even ride a ski train from downtown to Winter Park Resort.
WHEN: Nov. 29–Dec. 31, 2019
WHERE: Denver Zoo
Zoo Lights will span 70 acres of Denver Zoo's campus with nightly entertainment, animal encounters, Santa meet-and-greets and, of course, illuminated animal sculptures that swing through trees, jump across lawns, hide in bushes and appear in places where they’re least expected.
A HUDSON CHRISTMAS
WHEN: Nov 29–30 and Dec. 6–8, 13–24 and 26–31, 2019
WHERE: Hudson Gardens & Events Center
Bundle up for a visit with Santa at Hudson Gardens in Littleton. After sharing your list with Ol' Saint Nick, sip hot chocolate as you stroll the outdoor paths lined with trees decked with more than a million twinkling lights.
WHEN: Nov. 29, 2019–Jan. 1, 2020
WHERE: Denver Botanic Gardens
Denver Botanic Gardens is proud to host Blossoms of Light, an annual family-friendly event that has become a tradition for people across Colorado. Come interact with incredible light displays — a large field of sound-reactive, animated LED lights — plus sip warm drinks and nibble on tasty treats as you stroll.
OLDE GOLDEN CHRISTMAS
WHEN: Nov. 30–Dec. 31, 2019
WHERE: 1010 Washington Ave., Golden
Olde Golden Christmas includes a community candlelight walk, Victorian carolers, free Newfoundland dog-pulled cart rides, a holiday art market, parades, shopping, music and theater productions, Santa Claus, holiday lights and more!
WHEN: Dec. 6–7, 2019
WHERE: Downtown Denver
The 9NEWS Parade of Lights is the signature event of the downtown Denver holiday season. The countless sparkling lights, marching bands, giant balloons, majestic floats and delightful characters will once again wow hundreds of thousands. Viewing along the parade route is free, and grandstand tickets are sold for seating in front of the beautifully illuminated City & County Building.
NOON YEAR'S EVE
WHEN: Dec. 31, 2019
WHERE: Children's Museum of Denver at Marsico Campus
Enjoy the sights, sounds. and excitement of Times Square, all before bedtime! Each hour, count down to a glittering ball drop and pop bubble wrap fireworks as fountains of confetti flutter all around for Noon Year's Eve!
WHEN: Dec. 31, 2019
WHERE: 16th Street Mall
The sky will once again sparkle over downtown at the close of 2018 with the New Year's Eve Fireworks Downtown. The two spectacular fireworks shows will occur at 9 p.m. and midnight. For the best viewpoints, stand along the 16th Street Mall. The identical fireworks shows will be synched to a music playlist from live DJs along the mall. Each show will run for about eight minutes and can be viewed from anywhere along the mall. The DJs will play tunes from 8 p.m. to midnight.
Please note, between 8 p.m. and 1 a.m., RTD Light Rail trains will not cross the 16th Street Mall, and MallRide shuttles will stop temporarily during the two fireworks shows.
WHEN: Jan. 9–12, 2020
WHERE: Colorado Convention Center
Join thousands of hunting, fishing and outdoor enthusiasts for four days of outdoor-themed seminars and activities, including a Youth Fair, hosted by Colorado Parks and Wildlife.
WHEN: Jan. 11–26, 2020
WHERE: National Western Complex
Held every January, the National Western Stock Show & Rodeo is the world's largest stock show, involving more than 15,000 animals. Enjoy rodeos featuring top-notch bull riders, horse shows, livestock competitions and auctions.
WHEN: Jan. 24–25, 2020
WHERE: Mile High Station
Toast the winter season at Winter Brew Fest. This annual event at Mile High Station celebrates craft beverages from around Colorado and other U.S. microbrews and features live local music, food and other vendors. Cheers!
WHEN: Mar. 14, 2020
Join one of Colorado’s largest St. Patrick's Day celebrations and enjoy Irish dancers, bagpipes, bands, equestrians, civic clubs and cultural groups.
L'ESPRIT DE NOËL HOLIDAY HOME TOUR
WHEN: TBA 2019
WHERE: 740 South Jackson Street
This two-day walking tour features six magnificent homes in Denver’s Bonnie Brae and Belcaro neighborhoods, each one beautifully decorated for the holidays by some of the area’s most accomplished florists and table designers. Proceeds support the Central City Opera.
DENVER PAVILIONS HOLIDAY CAROUSEL
WHEN: TBA 2019
WHERE: Denver Pavilions
Create Memories for years to come at the Denver Pavilions beautiful downtown Holiday Carousel. Throughout December, families can enjoy the magic of the holidays from the perch of a horse on a beautiful carousel. $3 per ride.
SANTA ON THE SQUARE
WHEN: TBA 2019
WHERE: Larimer Square
It's the happiest season of all at Larimer Square, where historic charm meets holiday cheer. With festive dining options and boutiques filled with treasures for everyone on your 'Nice' list, Larimer Square help you celebrate in style. There are also carolers, carriage rides and Santa on Saturdays and Sundays throughout the season. Visits with Santa are free and open to the public.
ICE SKATING AT DOWNTOWN DENVER RINK AT SKYLINE PARK
WHEN: TBA 2019
WHERE: Corner of 16th and Arapahoe
Take a spin on the ice — for free! Grab your family and friends and head to 16th and Arapahoe in downtown Denver to the Downtown Denver Rink at Skyline Park in Downtown Denver! Skate rentals are $6–$8, or bring your own pair and skate for free. Free days for kids will take place throughout the season. Look for regularly scheduled entertainment and activities each week, including Friday night DJs; Saturday morning skating lessons; Saturday night concerts; and Sunday afternoon family entertainment.
ICELANTIC'S WINTER ON THE ROCKS
WHEN: TBA 2020
WHERE: Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre
Don't miss the annual Icelantic's Winter on the Rocks, a rare winter concert at one of the world's most iconic venues, Red Rocks Amphitheatre.
UIAA ICE CLIMBING WORLD CUP & WINTER CARNIVAL
WHEN: TBA 2020
WHERE: Civic Center Park
The world’s top men and women ice climbers will compete for glory on a 40-foot tall wall of sheer ice at the UIAA Ice Climbing World Cup in Civic Center Park. The park will be transformed into Barbegazi, a free winter carnival with fun for all ages.
ST. PADDY'S AT IMPROPER CITY
WHEN: TBA 2020
WHERE: Improper City
Celebrate St. Patrick's Day all day at Improper City in RiNo. Start with Irish coffees and brunch then enjoy DJs and live music while you sip Black and Tans and Drop Shots on the patio.
WINTER DAY TRIPS
RED ROCKS & GOLDEN
The concert season at Red Rocks Amphitheatre (18300 W. Alameda Pkwy., Morrison) may be over, but you can still enjoy this natural wonder year-round. The Red Rocks Visitor Center's winter hours are 9 a.m.–4 p.m., seven days a week. Check out the Red Rocks Performers Hall of Fame, featuring photos and memorabilia from more than 40 years of incredible concerts. Learn about the massive rock formations in the Geologic Niche and explore the Trading Post Loop Hiking Trail, a 1.4-mile adventure through spectacular rock formations, valleys and a natural meadow. After you've enjoyed Red Rocks, spend some time in nearby Golden's Old West-themed downtown, with a charming selection of shops, restaurants and attractions.
CENTRAL CITY AND BLACK HAWK
I-70 West and Exit 243 onto Central City Pkwy.
Head for the hills and check out all the fun Central City and Black Hawk have to offer. Located 34 miles (55km) west of Denver, the two towns offer more than 30 casinos with blackjack tables, craps, roulette, poker games and more than 10,000 slot machines. In 2009, gambling stakes were raised to $100, to the delight of high rollers. The two cities are also known for having some of the best-preserved Victorian architecture in the West. Other attractions include the Teller House Hotel, where President Grant once stayed and the Central City Opera House, which still features an outstanding summer season of opera after more than 100 years. There are mine tours, mining museums and several places offering instruction in the fine art of in-stream gold panning where a half billion dollars of the coveted, shiny metal was once found.
ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK
I-25 North to Exit 217, US Hwy. 36 west to Estes Park
The legendary Rocky Mountain National Park, located just an hour from The Mile High City, offers spectacular snowshoeing and cross country skiing options that will take you to some of the most scenic and serene spots in all of Colorado. Rent cross country skis and/or snowshoes in Denver and take the short drive up to Rocky Mountain National Park - you won't regret it. Check with rangers at visitor centers for info on the right trail for you.
WINTER FUN AT NEARBY SKI SLOPES
Located two hours or less from most Front Range ski areas, Denver has always been the gateway to Colorado skiing and boarding.
Winter Park Resort is nestled at the base of the Continental Divide at the east end of the Fraser Valley. As the closest major destination resort to Denver, Winter Park offers easy access to skiers arriving at Denver International Airport from hundreds of domestic and international points. Just two hours from the airport, the surrounding mountain expanses and breathtaking scenery at Winter Park give visitors the impression that they are far away from the hustle and hassle of city life. If you don't want to drive, hop on the Winter Park Express ski train for a memorable ride through a stunning landscape.
One of the largest ski resorts in the world with more than 5,200 acres of open terrain, Back Bowls spanning seven miles and the most groomed terrain on the planet, Vail has been the ideal winter destination for skiers and snowboarders for more than 50 years. Besides being one of the favorite ski destinations in the world, Vail features everything from Ski & Snowboard School to on-mountain events, shops and spas, numerous dining options and luxurious accommodations. Vail is a mountain resort like nothing on earth.
Just 53 miles west of Denver on I-70, Loveland Ski Area is super close to Denver and averages 400 inches of snow annually. Loveland's location offers unique skiing possibilities you simply cannot find at other ski areas. There's no glitz here. Loveland has been long known for some of the best skiing and snowboarding conditions in Colorado. At Loveland you get 1,365 diverse acres of terrain and breathtaking views from the second-highest chairlift in the world, high atop the Continental Divide. When you need to escape from the city for a day of riding and a night of good food, Loveland won't disappoint. Daytripper packages are available, including lift ticket, equipment and clothing rental. Ski school lessons are available for all abilities and schedules.
Seventy miles west of Denver, in Summit County, Colorado, you'll find Keystone Resort. With 131 trails, 235 inches of snow, more than 3,000 skiable acres and 20 lifts, Keystone delivers a truly world-class mountain experience, all within a short drive from Denver and the Front Range. At 11,640 feet, Dercum Mountain is home to long, open runs and perfect groomers to keep you cruising all day — a great place to start for beginners and intermediate skiers and snowboarders. For those who crave big air, Keystone's A51 Terrain Park will not disappoint. Named a top-ranked park by Freeskier and Transworld Magazines, this is the place to be for shredders and jibbers. Looking to explore Denver by day and Keystone at night? The mountain offers not only the largest night skiing operation in Colorado, but the longest ski day as well, operating from 8:30 a.m. to 8 p.m.
ARAPAHOE BASIN SKI AREA
Known for its excellent snow and extended ski season (the longest in Colorado), Arapahoe Basin Ski Area (or "A-Basin" to locals) is 68 miles from Denver, with killer views. A-Basin's acclaimed terrain and laid-back vibe make it a favorite for experts to beginners. Half of the mountain is above timberline, with open-bowl skiing and snowboarding through spring and into early summer. One of its signature runs, Pallavicini, is one of Colorado's longest and steepest trails. Family-friendly features include two learning areas, a full-service Snowsports School, on-site rentals and three dining locations. On sunny days, you might want to lounge on "The Beach," a stretch near the Early Riser parking lot that backs up to three lower-mountain chairlifts.
WINTER SPORTING EVENTS
Sept. 17, 2019: Vegas Golden Knights
Sept. 19, 2019: Dallas Stars
Sept. 22, 2019: Minnesota Wild
Oct. 3, 2019: Calgary Flames
Oct. 5, 2019: Minnesota Wild
Oct. 10, 2019: Boston Bruins
Oct. 12, 2019: Arizona Coyotes
Oct. 26, 2019: Anaheim Ducks
Oct. 30, 2019: Florida Panthers
Nov. 1, 2019: Dallas Stars
Nov. 7, 2019: Nashville Predators
Nov. 9, 2019: Columbus Blue Jackets
Nov. 23, 2019: Toronto Maple Leafs
Nov. 27, 2019: Edmonton Oilers
Nov. 30, 2019: Chicago Blackhawks
Dec. 9, 2019: Calgary Flames
Dec. 11, 2019: Philadelphia Flyers
Dec. 13, 2019: New Jersey Devils
Dec. 19, 2019: Carolina Hurricanes
Dec. 21, 2019: Chicago Blackhawks
Dec. 27, 2019: Minnesota Wild
Dec. 31, 2019: Winnipeg Jets
Jan. 2, 2020: St. Louis Blues
Jan. 10, 2020: Pittsburgh Penguins
Jan. 14, 2020: Dallas Stars
Jan. 16, 2020: San Jose Sharks
Jan. 18, 2020: St. Louis Blues
Jan. 20, 2020: Detroit Red Wings
Feb. 11, 2020: Ottawa Senators
Feb. 13, 2020: Washington Capitals
Feb. 15, 2020: Los Angeles Kings
Feb. 17, 2020: Tampa Bay Lightning
Feb. 19, 2020: New York Islanders
Feb. 26, 2020: Buffalo Sabres
Mar. 4, 2020: Anaheim Ducks
Mar. 11, 2020: New York Rangers
Mar. 13, 2020: Vancouver Canucks
Mar. 15, 2020: Vegas Golden Knights
Mar. 17, 2020: San Jose Sharks
Mar. 21, 2020: Montreal Canadiens
Mar. 29, 2020: Nashville Predators
Mar. 31, 2020: Arizona Coyotes
Apr. 2, 2020: Winnipeg Jets
Apr. 4, 2020: St. Louis Blues
Oct. 17, 2019: Portland Trail Blazers
Oct. 25, 2019: Phoenix Suns
Oct. 29, 2019: Dallas Mavericks
Nov. 5, 2019: Miami Heat
Nov. 8, 2019: Philadelphia 76ers
Nov. 12, 2019: Atlanta Hawks
Nov. 14, 2019: Brooklyn Nets
Nov. 20, 2019: Houston Rockets
Nov. 22, 2019: Boston Celtics
Nov. 24, 2019: Phoenix Suns
Nov. 26, 2019: Washington Wizards
Dec. 3, 2019: Los Angeles Lakers
Dec. 12, 2019: Portland Trail Blazers
Dec. 14, 2019: Oklahoma City Thunder
Dec. 15, 2019: New York Knicks
Dec. 18, 2019: Orlando Magic
Dec. 20, 2019: Minnesota Timberwolves
Dec. 25, 2019: New Orleans Pelicans
Dec. 28, 2019: Memphis Grizzlies
Dec. 29, 2019: Sacramento Kings
Jan. 11, 2020: Cleveland Cavaliers
Jan. 12, 2020: Los Angeles Clippers
Jan. 15, 2020: Charlotte Hornets
Jan. 19, 2020: Indiana Pacers
Jan. 26, 2020: Houston Rockets
Jan. 30, 2020: Utah Jazz
Feb. 4, 2020: Portland Trail Blazers
Feb. 10, 2020: San Antonio Spurs
Feb. 12, 2020: Los Angeles Lakers
Feb. 23, 2020: Minnesota Timberwolves
Feb. 25, 2020: Detroit Pistons
Mar. 1, 2020: Toronto Raptors
Mar. 3, 2020: Golden State Warriors
Mar. 9, 2020: Milwaukee Bucks
Mar. 18, 2020: Los Angeles Clippers
Mar. 27, 2020: San Antonio Spurs
Mar. 30, 2020: Oklahoma City Thunder
Apr. 3, 2020: Chicago Bulls
Apr. 5, 2020: Utah Jazz
Apr. 7, 2020: Memphis Grizzlies
Apr. 13, 2020: Dallas Mavericks