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Activities / Events / Holidays

Guide to the Holidays 2021: Denver’s Best Light Displays & Family Fun

Holiday fun in Denver

The holidays are upon us and there is no better place to celebrate the holiday season than in Denver! We have pulled together the very best holiday light displays in Denver, holiday performances and family-fun activities that kids will love including bumper cars on ice, dreamy candlelight walks, a Trail of Lights, the Polar Express and so much more. 

DRESS IT UP! Do you want to light up your activities even more? Don’t waste your money at the events on glow sticks. This 6-pack holiday Christmas LED light-up bulb necklace is the perfect accessory or get a laugh with these 5 piece Christmas hats and headbands that include Santa Pants, an elf and more. 

Tree farm DenverMORE FUN IDEAS! If you’re lucky, we’ll have a white Christmas so don’t miss our Ultimate guide to outdoor skating in Colorado and 30 places to go sledding in Colorado. And if you need some inspiration with your shopping, check out our Colorado Holiday Gift Guide with 50+ ideas, Denver’s best holiday markets and craft fairs and the 7 Best Christmas tree farms in Denver.

And, of course, don’t miss Denver’s best holiday light displays, family fun activities and holiday performances and places to see Santa in Denver. See our event calendar for even more holiday fun! 

Holiday Lights in Denver

Cherry Creek North Winter Wanderland & More

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.

The Mile High Tree

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.

Blossoms of Light

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 — and sip warm drinks and nibble on tasty treats as you stroll. Pre-purchased timed tickets and masks covering the face and nose are required.

bumper cars on iceChristmas at Gaylord Rockies

WHEN: Nov. 19, 2021 – Jan. 2, 2022
WHERE: Gaylord Rockies
There is no better way to celebrate the holiday season in the Denver, CO area than gathering your family for holiday fun during Christmas at Gaylord Rockies. Explore acres of twinkling lights, more than 12 hours of exciting activities, shows, and events snow tubing, gingerbread decorating, bumper cars on ice, Cirque Dreams Holidaze and for the first time ever, step into the world of Buddy the Elf in our all-new, Gaylord Hotels Original Experience, Mission: Save Christmas featuring Elf.

Zoo Lights

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. holiday lights

2021 Annual Holiday Lighting

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. It then goes to a static holiday lighting display until 10:45 p.m.

Luminova Holidays

WHEN: Nov. 26, 2021–Jan. 2, 2022
WHERE: Elitch Gardens Theme & Water Park​
Making its Colorado debut, this family-friend 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.

A Hudson Christmas: Extravaganza of Lights

WHEN: Nov. 26-Dec. 31, 2021
WHERE: Hudson Gardens & Events Center

A Hudson Christmas is back after two long years, and we’re turning up the dazzlemeter. Families and friends will 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.

Christmas in Color

WHEN: November 19- December 29
WHERE: Bandimere Speedway and Water World
Drive through millions of lights perfectly synchronized to holiday music you’ll hear right through your radio. Drive-by giant candy canes, snowmen, arched pathways and more. Take your time enjoying this lighting extravaganza – we won’t judge you if you join the kids with your face pressed against the window!

Grand Illumination–Merry & Bright Lights Show–Miracle at Union Station Cocktail Bar–Santa Visits

WHEN: Nov. 26; 5–8 p.m. (Grand Illumination); Nov. 26–Dec. 27; 5–10 p.m. (Merry & Bright Lights Show) 
WHERE: Denver Union Station
The annual Grand Illumination event will feature performances of classic holiday hits by the Denver Dolls, a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus, and the grand highlight of the evening — the lighting of the station’s outdoor 40-foot-tall Christmas tree that features more than 7,000 holiday lights. Also, the Grand Illumination kicks off the Merry & Bright Lights show, which will once again transform the exterior façade of Denver’s landmark train station into a spectacular canvas spreading holiday cheer. You can see it each night of the season. Miracle at Union Station,awhimsical pop-up cocktail bar, will open on Nov. 24. Meanwhile, Santa and Mrs. Claus  will be making regular appearances at the station from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Nov. 28; and Dec. 5, 12 and 19.

Trail of Lights

WHEN: Nov. 26, 2021–Jan. 2, 2022 (Closed Dec. 25, 2021)
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. botanicgardens.orgTrail of Lights Denver

December Delights

WHEN: Nov. 27 through Jan 2
WHERE: Four Mile Historic Park

 Returning for 2021, Four Mile Historic Park invites guests to delight in the season with immersive activities and interactive fun as it transforms into a winter wonderland. Guests will be wowed by the wonderland of winter-themed activities, including Reindeer Games, Ice Skating, Scavenger hunts, crafts, light displays, goat yoga and Swallow Hill Snow Shows in the Grove.

Night Lights Denver

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 every Tuesday through Sunday evening.

Electric Safari

WHEN: December 3-January 1
WHERE: Cheyenne Mountain Zoo
Electric Safari at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo is the only place in Colorado Springs where you can see over 85 one-of-a-kind light sculptures, take a picture with Santa and visit your favorite animals! Electric Safari tickets are temporarily not available for purchase by non-members or reservations by members.

The Polar Express Train Ride

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. coloradorailroadmuseum.orgCandlelight Walk Golden

Olde Golden Christmas

WHEN: Dec. 3-24, 2021
WHERE: Olde Town Golden

More than 45,000 holiday lights will illuminate Golden’s downtown as well as the trees, bridges and walkways along Deer Creek. The popular Holiday Art Market at Foothills Art Center will feature a variety of artisan holiday art gifts and the Holiday Parade will be on Dec. 11, 2021.

Charlie Brown Goes to the Nutcracker

WHEN: Dec. 4, 11 and 18, 2021<
WHERE: St. Julien Hotel & Spa

“Charlie Brown” meets “The Nutcracker” during this annual music tradition hosted by St Julien Hotel & Spa, and performed by Boulder’s own Ron LeGault Trio. This complimentary performance, which blends the music from “Charlie Brown Christmas” show, composed by Vince Guaraldi, with the jazz versions of “The Nutcracker,” written by Duke Ellington, features the Ron LeGault Trio. Curl up by the fireplace in the lobby, sip a seasonal cocktail and spread holiday cheer on December 4, 11 and 18.

Santa’s Flight Academy

WHEN: Nov. 12–Dec. 24, 2021
WHERE: Cherry Creek Shopping Center
Your little ones can step inside a 22-foot-tall sleigh and experience the magical snowfall. They can also have their photos taken with Santa. Reservations are recommended.

Cherry Creek North Holiday Market and Winter Wonderland

WHEN: Nov. 18–Dec. 24, 2021
WHERE: Cherry Creek North
The free Cherry Creek North Holiday Market at Fillmore Plaza features 30 local artisan vendors, live music, and festive drinks and decor.  Festivities include a dazzling display of nearly one million twinkling lights on more than 600 trees spread throughout the walkable neighborhood, the domino effect art installation, Chanukah celebration, Saturday Night Lights and more.

Camp Christmas

WHEN: Nov. 18, 2021–Jan. 2, 2022
WHERE: Heritage Lakewood Belmar Park, Lakewood

The ultimate immersive Christmas experience is now bigger than ever! Not for the faint of festivity, this custom-designed, over-the-top realm turns the holiday spirit all the way up! Bring your whole family to explore a sprawling, fantastical wonderland, where the mesmerizing decoration displays don’t just rekindle the magic of the season — they reimagine it completely.

Denver Christkindlmarket

WHEN: Nov. 19–Dec. 23, 2021
WHERE: 101 West 14th Avenue, Denver
This outdoor event brings the most beloved elements of an authentic German holiday experience to The Mile High 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.

Film on the Rocks Holiday Drive-in

WHEN: Nov. 26–Dec. 12, 2021; 4:30 p.m. & 8 p.m.
WHERE: Red Rocks Amphitheatre, Morrison
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. Holiday classics will include How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Scrooged, A Christmas Story, Home Alone, Polar Express and more.

Four Mile Historic Park: December Delights

WHEN: Nov. 27-Jan. 27, 2022
WHERE: Four Mile Historic Park

 With immersive activities and interactive fun, Four Mile turns into a winter wonderland for December Delights, Wednesdays through Sundays, beginning Saturday, Nov. 27, through Sunday, Jan. 2, 2022. This family-friendly seasonal event offers winter-themed activities, including Reindeer Games, ice skating, scavenger hunts, live performances by Swallow Hill Music every Friday night and much more.

A Storybook Holiday in Evergreen

WHEN: Nov. 27–Dec. 31, 2021
WHERE: Evergreen

See classic Christmas stories depicted in ice! The mountain community of Evergreen is “hiding” ice sculptures around town and Santa is flying in from the North Pole to do some special readings.

Downtown Denver Rink

WHEN: Thru Dec. 31, 2021
WHERE: Skyline Park
Bundle up for some free ice skating in the heart of downtown and enjoy special events. downtowndenver.comDenver ice skating

Farolito Lighting & Pinecone Ceremony

WHEN: Nov. 28, 2021
WHERE: The Fort Restaurant, Morrison

Welcome the holiday season and honor a member of the community who has enlightened the hearts and minds of others. Feel the warmth and watch as pinecones are tossed into the courtyard fire, sending good thoughts and prayers into the night sky. Sing along to Christmas carols from the 1830s and 1840s with music students from the Colorado School of Mines and other strolling musicians. Enjoy Mexican hot chocolate, hot cider and traditional biscochitos.

9News Parade of Lights

WHEN: Dec. 4, 2021
WHERE: Downtown Denver

This FREE holiday spectacular features more than 40 units including extravagantly illuminated floats, giant helium-filled character balloons, magnificent marching bands, traditional equestrian units, and vibrant cultural displays.

Distortions Monster World

WHEN: Thru Dec. 31, 2021
WHERE: Denver Pavilions
Ready to get up close and personal with the things that go bump in the night? Come to Distortions Monster World (if you dare), where surprises will greet you around every corner on an out-of-this-world interactive adventure. This series of cinematic environments featuring immersive installations and infamous creatures and characters will truly transport you to another place!

Music & Performing Arts 

A Christmas Carol

WHEN: Nov. 19–Dec. 26, 2021
WHERE: Denver Performing Arts Complex

Essential to the holiday season in Denver, “A Christmas Carol” is a joyous and opulent musical adaptation that traces money-hoarding curmudgeon Ebenezer Scrooge’s triumphant overnight journey to redemption.

The Nutcracker by the Colorado Conservatory of Dance

WHEN: Dec. 10, 11, 12, 18 and 19
WHERE: Performing Arts Complex at PCS

The CCD production, presented yearly since 1993, boasts gorgeous sets and costumes, stunning choreography, and professional guest artists from around the country. Following each performance, CCD is the only one in the Denver metro area that allows children to learn choreography from the ballet, while in their seats. This year, audience members will also have the opportunity to take socially-distanced photos with the Nutcracker Prince, Clara, and other characters from the ballet to complete the magical experience. Save 10% on all tickets when you use the Promo Code: Mamas2021 at checkout.

Colorado Ballet Presents ‘The Nutcracker’

WHEN: Nov. 27–Dec. 24, 2021
WHERE: Ellie Caulkins Opera House

The beloved holiday favorite returns in a dazzling production like no one’s ever seen, featuring all-new sets and costumes created especially for Colorado Ballet. A sellout every year, this magical tale of Clara, the Nutcracker and the Mouse King is going to be dreamier than ever.

Drums of the World

WHEN: Nov. 28, 2021
WHERE: Boettcher Concert Hall in the Denver Performing Arts Complex

Marimba, bongos, bass drums, woodblocks, log drums, boo-bams, Chinese cymbals, metal trash cans, darabukkas, talking drums, plastic pipe, acoustic guitar, toy trumpet, tablespoons, Burma gongs, water can, crow call, tambourine, gankogui and sleigh bells! These are just some of the percussion instruments that the virtuoso percussionists of your Colorado Symphony will be using in this dynamic concert that is fun for the entire family.

Elf the Musical

WHEN: Nov. 19-Dec. 23
WHERE: Arvada Center

Based on the beloved holiday film, this hilarious fish-out-of-water comedy follows Buddy the Elf in his quest to find his true identity. As Buddy helps New York City rediscover its Christmas cheer, this family favorite helps us all find the joy in the season.

Granny Dances to a Holiday Drum

WHEN: Dec. 11, 2020–19, 2021
WHERE: Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Theatre
A Denver family tradition for 29 years, this incredible blend of dance, music, and spoken word lifts the spirit and fills the heart with joy, love, and peace! Even in challenging times, the magic of Granny Dances to a Holiday Drum, presented by Cleo Parker Robinson Dance, continues. Guided by the Three Angels of the Rainbow, Granny visits Africa, the Americas, Mexico, Asia, and the Caribbean to celebrate the joy of Holiday Times! From the African Harvest to Kwanzaa, from the Chinese New Year to Junkanoo…. a celebration of both diversity and oneness!

A Face Christmas

WHEN: Nov. 28, 2021
WHERE: Lone Tree Arts Center

Ring in the holidays with a fabulous, fun, festive holiday concert by the amazing all-vocal rock band Face! It’s a wonderful night out for the whole family and it’ll have your elf shoes tapping and your jingle bells ringing with the joy of the season. The band — using only their voices — meld popular tunes, complex harmonies, beat-box rhythms and more into captivating concert performances.

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Mile High Mamas
Author: Mile High Mamas

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