Winter makes The Mile High City sparkle. 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.
We strive to post the most current and accurate event information, but changes and cancellations do occur, so please check the official event website to confirm all details before attending.
WHEN: Nov 11–Dec. 23, 2021 (on select days)
WHERE: Colorado Railroad Museum
The story of The Polar ExpressTM is theatrically re-created and combined with a magical train ride at the Colorado Railroad Museum. Children get to meet Santa and experience all the sights and sounds of this classic tale as if happening all around them. This year, a whole host of carefully crafted updates have been made in order to ensure the health and safety of guests, cast and crew, so put on your pajamas and your most fashionable mask and bring the family to enjoy sharing hot cocoa and cookies together as the "Hot, Hot, Hot—Chocolate" song and dance unfolds before your eyes.
WHEN: Nov. 18, 2021–Jan. 2, 2022
WHERE: Heritage Lakewood Belmar Park
An over-the-top, outdoor/indoor extravaganza as big as the season it celebrates! Leave your worries behind and immerse yourself in Denver Center for the Performing Arts' (DCPA's) biggest holiday experience ever! Journey through artist Lonnie Hanzon’s fantastical wonderland of lights, dazzling decorations, music and memorabilia as you explore mesmerizing yuletide scenes spread across a six-acre landscape. Most importantly, Camp Christmas is an opportunity to rediscover (and reimagine!) the holiday spirit and connect with people you love.
WHEN: Nov. 18–Dec. 31, 2021
WHERE: Cherry Creek North
During Winter Wanderland, explore 16 sparkling blocks with more than a half-million lights and discover eight twinkling displays choreographed to music. New this year is an interactive art installation, "domino effect" by Creos, which will feature 120 brightly colored dominos, each with its own sound profile. And during Saturday Night Lights (Dec. 4, 11 and 18) stroll beneath 600 illuminated trees while enjoying free festive treats and entertainment.
WHEN: Nov. 19–Dec. 23, 2021
WHERE: Civic Center Park
This outdoor event brings the most beloved elements of an authentic German holiday experience to the city. Stroll through a European village decorated for the holiday season as you shop for finely crafted artisan gifts and treats at charming wooden huts. Fuel your shopping with authentic Glühwein (mulled spiced wine), German Biers and hot chocolate, and nosh on Bavarian-style pretzels, fresh smoked salmon, Knödel, Goulasch, Nürnberger Sausages, pastries, caramels and European chocolates.
WHEN: Nov. 19, 2021–Jan. 1, 2022
WHERE: 16th Street Mall at Welton Street
Join in the free festivities at this festive holiday attraction, the Mile High Tree. It’s a brilliantly lit, 110-foot-tall immersive art installation that provides a dazzling lights-and-music show.
WHEN: Nov. 19, 2021–Jan. 8, 2022 (closed Nov. 25 and Dec. 25, 2021)
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. Pre-purchased timed tickets are required.
WHEN: Nov. 19, 2021–Jan. 2, 2022
WHERE: Water World and Bandimere Speedway (Morrison)
Load up your friends and family into the van (or car, or truck) and experience the holiday season like never before. Drive through acres of more than 1.5 million lights perfectly synchronized to holiday music you'll hear right through your radio. You'll drive by giant candy canes, snowmen, arched pathways and more. It's like being immersed in another world. You can experience the attraction at two locations. (Closed on Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.)
WHEN: Nov. 22, 2021–Jan. 2, 2022
WHERE: Denver Zoo
It's official: Zoo Lights has been making magic, memories, and even marriages for 30 amazing years! Presented by Your Hometown Toyota Stores, this illuminating annual event transforms Denver Zoo into Colorado's WILDEST winter wonderland. Don't miss this year's historic celebration, with more than a million lights sparkling over 80 acres—plus a host of special measures to keep your family safe and healthy.
WHEN: Nov. 24, 2021–Jan. 23, 2022; 5:45 p.m. and 6:45 p.m each night
WHERE: City & County of Denver Building
Each night, at 5:45 p.m. and 6:45 p.m., an interactive holiday show will occur for 7-9 minutes, and then goes to a static holiday look until 10:45 p.m.
WHEN: Nov. 24, 2021–Jan. 2, 2022
WHERE: Elitch Gardens Theme & Water Park
Making its Colorado debut, this family-friendly event brings larger-than-life holiday displays and immersive experiences for all to enjoy. It features more than 3 million dazzling lights, a 65-foot-tall Christmas tree, a 25-foot-tall snowman that never melts, a 200-foot-long candy cane tunnel, giant ornaments, a wall of lights, rides on limited Elitch Gardens attractions, train rides for the kids (and the kids at heart), interactive activities like a light-up hopscotch, strolling holiday entertainers, Old Saint Nick and his elves, and more.
WHEN: Nov. 26–Dec. 12, 2021
WHERE: Red Rocks Amphitheatre
Enjoy a one-of-a-kind drive-in movie experience at the iconic Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre with a new lineup of films to celebrate the holidays such as "Planes, Trains and Automobiles," "Home Alone," "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation," "Scrooged," and more.
WHEN: Nov. 26, 2021–Jan. 2, 2022
WHERE: Denver Botanic Gardens Chatfield Farms
Stroll through the Colorado countryside along a winding path glistening with lights. Features this year include a three-sided light tunnel, illuminated antique and model tractors, a children's play area and warms holiday food and drink. Visitors must purchase a ticket online for a specific day and time.
WHEN: Nov. 26–Dec. 31, 2021 (on select days)
WHERE: Hudson Gardens & Events Center
Hudson Christmas is back after two long years. You'll be enchanted by even more towering trees draped in thousands of colorful lights. A grove of dancing Christmas trees, a multi-colored forest inhabited by giant snowmen, the holiday light tunnel and glowing reindeer will light up Hudson Gardens into an extravaganza of holiday cheer.
WHEN: Dec. 4, 2021; 6 p.m.
WHERE: Throughout downtown Denver
The 9NEWS Parade of Lights is the signature event of the holiday season in downtown Denver. This free holiday spectacular throughout downtown features more than 40 units, including extravagantly illuminated floats, giant helium-filled character balloons, magnificent marching bands, traditional equestrian units and vibrant cultural displays. And of course, a special appearance by Major Waddles the Penguin and Santa! If you miss the parade, the floats will be displayed until Dec. 26 on various plazas like Denver Union Station and Denver Pavilions.
WHEN: Jan. 28, 2022; 7 p.m.
WHERE: Red Rocks Amphitheatre
There's nothing like seeing a show at Red Rocks Amphitheatre and it's even more special to see one in wintertime. Get ready for some high-energy performances that will get you on your feet and dancing away the night as Icelantic's Winter on the Rocks returns with Diplo teaming up with Sofi Tukker, plus Talib Kweli, DJ Matt Cassidy and Jacoby.
WHEN: Nov. 27–Jan. 2, 2022
WHERE: Denver City & County Building
There's nothing quite like an evening stroll under twinkling holiday lights to celebrate the season! Embark on a fun-filled 1.5-hour Holiday Lights & Sights walking experience as you take in all of the magic and cheer of this festive time of year in The Mile High City. Along the way, you'll learn about the unique history, architecture and holiday traditions of Denver and Colorado.
WHEN: Permanent installation
WHERE: Daniels & Fisher Tower
Night Lights Denver features rotating content designed by local artists and the community and projected on the Arapahoe Street side of the Daniels & Fisher Tower. See it for free every Tuesday through Sunday evening.
WHEN: Nov. 27-Dec. 31, 2021
WHERE: Evergreen, various locations
A Story Book Christmas in Evergreen is coming back for a second year with Classic Christmas Stories depicted in Ice. See "hidden" ice sculptures around the mountain community while Santa is flying in from the North Pole to do some special readings. Join the family-friendly scavenger hunt and support local businesses. The grand unveiling is on Nov. 27.
RED ROCKS & GOLDEN
The concert season at Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre 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 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.
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. (Note: The ski train has suspended operations indefinitely due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.)
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 activities at 9,600 ft. available at Copper Mountain include skiing, snowshoeing, overnight back-country hut trips, sleigh rides and more! As the largest resort in Summit County, Copper offers diverse terrain on a well-designed, easy-to-navigate mountain. Veteran skiers prefer the east side, while beginner and intermediate skiers enjoy the moderate terrain farther west. The resort also boasts 16 miles of cross-country trails and first-rate terrain parks.
Located just 36 miles from Denver in nearby in Idaho Springs, Echo Mountain is the closest ski area to Denver, making it easy to fit into even the shortest weekend trip! Originally opened in 1960 as the Squaw Pass Ski Area, Echo has gone through many iterations over the years, including a terrain park and a private ski race training facility. It reopened as a ski resort in 2016 and has undergone extensive renovations over the past few years, including a brand new tubing hill, an expanded beginner ski area and a new food-and-beverage menu (featuring “life-changing fries”). Night owls can even take part in night skiing throughout the season!