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Denver guide to the holidays: Santa Arrivals & Christmas events!

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KOSI 101 is already playing Christmas music so Santa Claus must be coming to town. With him comes all kinds of spirit-filled fun and a ton of free or inexpensive events that everyone can enjoy on almost any budget. We’ve found some really fantastic places to get in the spirit. 

Also, don’t miss Family Travel: 40+ Holiday Vacation Ideas in Colorado. 

 Outlets of Castle Rock.  Maybe one of my most favorite Santa arrival EVENTS in the city! Saturday, November 16 will be the giant tree-lighting and concert. Festivities begin at 3 p.m. with local favorite, Raising Cian starting at 4 p.m. then rising popstar AJ Mitchell will take the stage. The Grand Finale will be at approximately 6 p.m. when Santa will arrive to light the Outlets Tree! Food trucks will be available.

 Bass Pro Shop & Cabela’s. Bass Pro Shop and Cabela’s all welcome Santa on Saturday, November 16 with the arrival parade starting around 5 p.m. There will be a tree-lighting and Santa’s Wonderland will open. While you’re there, enjoy free hot chocolate, cookies, decorating a stocking, lots of fun activities and photos. You will also be able to enter for door prizes and get a free fleece blanket.

 Cherry Creek Shopping Center. Cherry Creek has several events happening from the Grand Opening of Santa’s Flight Academy on November 16 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., the annual Tree Lighting and After Party on November 23 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., Black Friday Giveaways on November 29 (Black Friday) from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., Holiday Entertainment every Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and photos with Santa and your pup on December 1 & 8 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. With so much going on you really don’t want to miss the holidays at Cherry Creek Shopping Center. 

 Southlands. Southlands has an entire season of fun planned. The fun really kicks off November 23 with the Holiday Hometown Parade starting at 6 p.m. and Santa is the special guest! The Pond Returns on November 15 for ice skating. Six Days for Free Santa Photos are November 23 – November 29. Hop on a festive carriage ride starting November 30 and plan to stop by the YMCA Craft corner.

Streets at SouthGlenn. Don’t miss the annual holiday kickoff: Santa’s Arrival & Tree Lighting on Fri., Nov. 22 at 6 p.m. 

BelMar. This is one of the most magical times of the year!  Capture your child’s special visit with a photo with Santa Fridays through Sundays Dec. 6-22.  Pets also welcome Saturdays.

 FlatIron Crossing. Santa may have arrived already at the FlatIron Crossings. But you can get your shopping done, and see where you rank on the Naughty-or-Nice O’Meter and say hi to Santa at  Santa’s HQ! Reservations are available but not required. They have a variety of events including Breakfast with Santa, Ugly Sweater Day and more through the season. 

Town Center of Aurora. Enjoy the annual Cookies With Santa event from 1 to 3 p.m. on Dec. 13 — which features a storytime and letters to Santa. Also, you can visit with the jolly old man and get free photos daily through the holiday.

Colorado Mills. It’s Time for Photos With Santa! Visit Santa’s Cabin in Neighborhood 3 near Target beginning on November 8th through December 24th.

Santa at Denver Union Station. Don’t miss visits with Santa & Mrs. Claus on Sunday, Dec. 1, Dec. 8, Dec. 15 and Dec. 22 from 9 a.m. – 2 p.m. with free family photos against the beautiful, historic backdrop of the Great Hall.

Dairy Block. Kris Kringle will be spreading holiday cheer – and posing for FREE family photos – at Santa’s Dairy Block Workshop on Saturday, Dec. 7th, 14th & 21st. Santa’s Dairy Block Workshop will feature a complimentary photo booth where families can take adorable pictures with Santa, the chance to meet his reindeer, plus live entertainment by elves & carolers, complimentary candy canes and more.

Park Meadows. True holiday magic will take place throughout Santa’s Winter Wonderland located in the Dillard’s Court. Guests experience wonder and delight as they stroll through the giant Christmas tree and take in the sights and sounds with Santa’s sleigh, woodland snowmen, festive reindeer, custom costumes and interactive elements.

Santa on the Square. On Nov. 30 from 19 a.m.-4 p.m.  Santa and Mrs. Claus kicking off the holiday by visiting Larimer Square on Saturdays throughout the holiday season.

Other Holiday Happenings

 Camp Christmas. The Hangar at Stanley Marketplace is Camp Christmas. The indoor immersive of all things holiday spirit is open most days from November 21 to January 5 between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m. Your Elfie Selfies are encouraged, visit with Santa (with a timed ticket), sip cocoa or a frosty cocktail from the Santa Bar. Ticket prices vary based on date and time from $8 to $21. Kids 2 & under are free.

 Parade of Lights. The Parade of Lights takes a 2-mile route through Denver’s city streets on Friday, December 6 at 8 p.m. and Saturday, December 7 at 6 p.m. This free event features marching bands, floats, and Santa!

Denver Christkindl Market. The German-style market with stalls of great gifts from afar and awesome German foods is a free event at 15th and Arapahoe in downtown Denver. 

St. Nick on the Bricks. While Santa’s elves are busy at the North Pole, he and Mrs. Claus carve out time each Saturday from 11 am – 2 pm  (between November 30 – December 21) to visit kids of all ages at the Downtown Boulder Visitor Information Center. Cameras are strongly encouraged for holiday photo ops!

Blossoms of Lights. Walk through Denver Botanic Gardens all lit up for the holidays. For over three decades, this annual holiday lights extravaganza transforms the York Street location into a winter wonderland. Fresh, exciting and new this year is the 360-degree immersive light experience. More lights, brighter and more expansive than ever. Tickets are can be $16 for non-members (depending on date. Kids 2 and under are free).   

Blossoms of Lights and Santa’s Workshop at Chatfield. My kids went with me last year to explore Santa’s Workshop of Chatfield. They still talk about it. Not only did we get to wander around the Chatfield location of the Denver Botanic Gardens, but there were also live reindeer AND they got to decorate a plate where we could leave out Santa’s cookies. Tickets are different prices are just $20 for adults or child when you not a member. 

Zoo Lights. The Denver Zoo lights up with twinkling and animated lights through the entire 70-acre zoo grounds. You can see neon giraffes, tigers, and monkeys swinging from trees. Zoo Lights sells out every year—please book online or in advance to secure your spot.

Gaylord Rockies. Gaylord Hotels are well known for their holiday fun. With the opening of the Gaylord Rockies, Denver also gets to experience all the great fun. Ice! Featuring Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer as the theme – you will see your favorite holiday come to life. You can watch Cirque’s Holidaze, go down the indoor ice slide, play reindeer games, try the naughty or nice escape room, gingerbread decorating, Mrs. Clause traditions, ride the ice bumper cars, and eat a Holly Jolly Breakfast.  Stay for the day or make it an overnight staycation, either way, you are in for a full dose of holiday fun. 

Night Lights Denver. I usually think of lights on the exterior of buildings for the holidays – but the new Night Lights Denver will be a permanent way for the Theater District to show off on an experimental platform while attracting people downtown for the free and unique experience. The lights will project on the Arapahoe Street side of the Daniels & Fisher Tower every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night (5:30-8:30 p.m.)

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