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Guide to Denver Holiday Events, Lights and Christmas Fun 2023

Guide Denver holidays
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas! Holidays in Denver are downright magical and we have pulled together Holidays in Denver: Your Guide to Events, Lights and Christmas Fun. Check out the very best holiday lights displays in Denver, holiday performances, family-fun activities for families like bumper cars on ice, dreamy candlelight walks, the Polar Express, a trail of lights and so much more. 

MORE 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 the 7 Best Christmas tree farms in Denver.  

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 DenverAnd, of course, don’t miss Denver’s best holiday light displays, family fun activities and holiday performances and places to see Santa in Denver. 

Holiday Lights in Denver

Cherry Creek North Winter Wanderland, Giving Machines & More

WHEN: Nov. 16–Dec. 24, 2023
WHERE: Cherry Creek North
A collection of free holiday offerings throughout the neighborhood, Cherry Creek North’s Winter Wanderland festivities include a dazzling display of nearly one million twinkling lights on more than 600 trees spread throughout the walkable neighborhood. Picture this: Vending machines that don’t dispense snacks or drinks, but instead, they offer something even more nourishing to the soul – the chance to make a positive impact. This holiday season, as lights twinkle and carols fill the air, the Giving Machines invite you to #LightTheWorld in a truly meaningful way.  cherrycreeknorth.com

The Mile High Tree

WHEN: Nov. 17–Dec. 31, 2023
WHERE: Civic Center Park

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.  denver.org

Blossoms of Light

WHEN: Nov. 17, 2023–Jan. 7, 2024 (Closed Nov. 23 and Dec. 25, 2023)
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. botanicgardens.org

bumper cars on iceChristmas at Gaylord Rockies

WHEN: Nov. 17, 2023 – Jan. 1, 2024
WHERE: Gaylord Rockies
There’s no better way to celebrate the holidays than by gathering your family for Christmas at Gaylord Rockies Resort & Convention Center in Aurora, Colorado. Step inside a holiday showplace like no other as you wind your way through the larger-than-life sculptures of ICE! featuring A Christmas Story™, zoom down thrilling frozen slides, and traverse awe-inspiring tunnels. Escape to Gaylord Rockies to enjoy the splendor of the holiday season. . christmasatgaylordrockies.marriott.com

Zoo Lights

WHEN: December 2, 2023–Jan. 7, 2024
WHERE: Denver Zoo

Now, with 80 acres boasting over two million lights, the Denver Zoo is making spirits bright. This year, there’s more magic than ever—including new animated light sculptures, returning favorites, nightly ice-carving exhibitions and festive seasonal treats. denverzoo.org/events/zoolightsDenver holiday lights

2023 Annual Light the Lights

WHEN: Nov. 23, 2023–Jan. 22, 2024; 5:45 p.m. and 6:45 p.m each night
WHERE: City & County of Denver​ Building
The annual Light the Lights celebration kicked off a schedule of daily holiday light and music shows at Denver’s City and County Building. The 8-minute, choreographed light and music show continues to run every night* at 5:45 pm and 6:45 pm from Nov 23 through Jan 22 except for the following days/dates. The City and County Building will showcase a festive, static light display before, between, and after the two nightly shows, until 10:45 pm. denver.org

Luminova Holidays

WHEN: Nov. 24–Dec. 31, 2023
WHERE: Elitch Gardens Theme & Water Park​
Stroll through the Park with over 300,000 square feet of larger-than-life light displays, a 65-ft. tree, twinkling snowmen who never melt, 300-ft. candy cane tunnel, photo ops galore, and more! See the lights from high above on the Ferris Wheel while sipping hot cocoa and enjoy some of your favorite Elitch Gardens rides. luminovaholidays.comLuminova at Elitch

A Hudson Christmas: Extravaganza of Lights

WHEN: Nov. 24–December 31, 2023
WHERE: Hudson Gardens & Events Center

Hudson Gardens & Event Center will dazzle you with two brand-new, spectacular light shows. Kick off your holiday season with Hudson Holidays, featuring never-before-seen light installations like a cathedral comprised of thousands of LED lights. Ring in the new year with us as the exhibit transforms into the Light Up the New Year show that includes vibrant displays, a laser garden, and upbeat music. hudsongardens.org

Christmas in Color

WHEN: November 18, 2023–January 1, 2024
WHERE: Bandimere Speedway, Water World, Araphoe County Fairgrounds
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! christmasincolor.net

Grand Illumination DenverGrand Illumination–Merry & Bright Lights Show

WHEN: Nov. 24, 2023
WHERE: Denver Union Station
The annual Grand Illumination event will feature performances of classic holiday hits by the Denver Dolls, a visit from Santa & 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. The Merry & Bright Lights show will run until 10:00 p.m., every evening through December 30th. denverunionstation.com

Dairy Block

WHEN: Nov. 25-Dec 17, 2023
WHERE: Dairy Block
Dairy Block is excited to celebrate the magic of the season with Holiday on the Block, an extensive line-up of festive events including a local makers market, Who-ligan entertainment, live music and carols winter art installations and more. The Mistletoe Market will be select weekends in November and December. Who-ligan Holiday Entertainment will be on select days in December and will include free photo opportunities with favorite holiday characters. See dairyblock.com for the full lineup. 

Parade of Lights

WHEN: Dec. 2, 2023; 6 p.m.
WHERE: Throughout downtown
This free holiday spectacular features extravagantly illuminated floats, giant helium-filled character balloons, magnificent marching bands, traditional equestrian units, and vibrant cultural displays. And of course, special appearances by Major Waddles the Penguin and Santa! The parade begins at 14th and Bannock Streets where you can purchase grandstand seating in front of the City and County Building. Spectators can view the parade for free along the two-mile route on Tremont Street between 14th and 17th Streets, on 17th Street from Tremont to Arapahoe Street, on Arapahoe between 17th and 15th Streets, and on 15th Street from Arapahoe to Glenarm. For more information, see the 9NEWS Parade of Lights. 

Trail of Lights

WHEN: Nov. 24, 2023–Jan. 1, 2024 (Closed Dec. 25)
WHERE: Denver Botanic Gardens Chatfield Farms
Tucked into the foothills under the dark sky, the glow of lights can be seen for miles. Just under a mile of walking trail, the illumination of cottonwoods, box elders and pine trees line the pathway through the Green Farm, Crossroads, Deer Creek Discovery Children’s Play Area and 1880s Hildebrand Ranch homestead. There is the option of a shorter path for those who want to take a shorter stroll. botanicgardens.orgTrail of Lights Denver

December Delights

WHEN: Dec. 8, 9, 15, 2023
WHERE: Four Mile Historic Park

Join Four Mile Historic Park for December Delights as we explore Victorian holiday traditions with an immersive experience in the Four Mile House. New this year, guests will be entertained by holiday classics from the Colorado Caroling Company as they wander the Park, and the Dapper Brass Band performing in Grant Hall. Don’t forget to visit Santa and Mrs. Claus in the Bee House or shop for that perfect gift from curated local vendors in the Holiday Marketplace. fourmilepark.org/december-delights

Night Lights Denver

WHEN: Permanent installation Tuesday and Sunday evenings
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. nightlightsdenver.com

Electric Safari

WHEN: December 1-3; 8-23, 25-January 1, 2024
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. cmzoo.org

Chanukah Celebration

WHEN: December 10, 2023, at 5 p.m.
WHERE: Cherry Creek North
Celebrate the first night of Chanukah with Chabad of Cherry Creek. Families and guests of all ages will enjoy what is truly a festival of lights with face painting, fire juggling, festive treats and crafts. cherrycreeknorth.com

Denver Tree Lightings and Lights 2023

Castle Rock Starlighting

WHEN: Nov. 18, 2023
WHERE: 300 Second Street, Castle Rock
Step into a Norman Rockwell scene at Starlighting, an annual traditional community ceremony that includes lighting the star on top of Castle Rock followed by a fireworks display. Festivities include caroling, dancing, ice skating, visiting with Santa Claus, kids activities, nonprofit booths, food vendors, hot chocolate, and the iconic chili supper at the Firehouse.castlerock.org/castle-rock-starlighting/

Olde Town Arvada Annual Tree Lighting

WHEN: Nov. 25, 2023
WHERE: 5726 Olde Wadsworth BlvdArvada, CO 80002
Festivities kick off at 4:00 p.m. with a lively pop-up makers’ market, bars, and skating in the square. The evening’s musical enchantment begins with a festive march led by the talented brass band, Guerrilla Fanfare. Watch as local businesses illuminate their spaces with holiday lights, starting at 5:00 p.m. at Carly’s Boutique (7401 Grandview Ave). Guerrilla Fanfare will guide us back to the square, where delightful holiday activities will commence before the grand tree lighting at 6:00 p.m.! Following the magical moment, revel in the melodious tunes of The bFlatirons and explore our Holiday Pop-up Market for unique shopping experiences. oldetownarvada.org

Farolito Lighting & Pinecone Ceremony

WHEN: Nov. 26, 2023; 4–5:30 p.m.
WHERE: The Fort Restaurant/Tesoro Cultural Center, 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. tesoroculturalcenter.org/farolito-lighting-and-pinecone-ceremony/Farolito Lighting & Pinecone Ceremony

Lakewood Lights

WHEN:  Dec. 1, 2023; 5–8 p.m.
WHERE: Heritage Lakewood Belmar Park, Lakewood
Gather your friends, family and neighbors for this annual celebration! Join Lakewood Mayor and City Council for a lighting ceremony, then enjoy a stroll among the light displays, listen to festive live music and warm up with hot cocoa. Meet with jolly old Santa Claus or craft an ornament to commemorate this happy holiday lakewood.org

Holiday Tree Lighting Ceremony

WHEN: Dec. 5, 2023
WHERE: Aurora Municipal Center, Aurora

Witness the illumination of thousands of strands of lights. This event will have holiday-themed activities, treats, live entertainment and a visit from a special guest in a jolly red suit. auroragov.org/

Family-Friendly Denver Holiday Events & Activities 

The Polar Express Train Ride

WHEN: Nov. 10–Dec. 23, 2023 (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. 1-24, 2023
WHERE: Olde Town Golden

Golden’s beloved Candlelight Walk returned on Dec. 1 with holiday revelers strolling Washington Avenue holding candles and singing carols.  Golden’s Holiday Parade returns Dec. 9 with marching bands, floats, horses, Victorian carolers, elves, fire trucks, and, of course, Santa. Return for a magical day in Golden meeting and mingling with family favorite holiday characters along Washington Avenue on December 16 during the Jingle On the Avenue.  visitgolden.com

Rudolph Ramble 5K

WHEN: Dec. 3, 2023
WHERE: City Park
Then one sunny Denver day, Santa came to say, “will you help me with your running shoes, and find Rudolph so he can guide my sleigh”? Well, will you help Santa? Rudolph loves to Ramble around Colorado! So grab your running or walking shoes and join the Rudolph Search & Rescue Team as we help Santa reunite with Rudolph just in time for Christmas. rundenverseries.com/

Winterfest 2023

WHEN Dec. 8-10, 2023
WHERE: Chautauqua, 900 Baseline Rd, Boulder
Chautauqua’s beloved holiday tradition is back. Bring your friends and family and ring in the season with a tree lighting ceremony, horse-drawn carriage rides, Santa’s Cottage, a historic cottage tour, holiday market and more! chautauqua.com/winterfest-2023

Visit the Village

WHEN: Dec. 9, 2023
WHERE: Arapahoe County Fairgrounds
Celebrate the holiday season at the Arapahoe County Fairgrounds on Saturday, Dec. 9, from 11 a.m.- 4 p.m. It’s a family fun day with something for everyone—from shopping with local vendors, to make-and-take craft activities, Santa meet-and-greet, petting farm, horse-drawn rides, model train display, train rides, free hot chocolate and s’mores, face painting, food trucks, and tons of FUN! arapahoecountyeventcenter.com

Charlie Brown Goes to the Nutcracker

WHEN: Dec. 9, 16, 23, 2023
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.  stjulien.com/

Santa’s Flight Academy

WHEN: Nov. 10–Dec. 24, 2023
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. shopcherrycreek.com

Cherry Creek North Holiday Market and Winter Wonderland

WHEN: Nov. 16–Dec. 24, 2023
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.  cherrycreeknorth.com

Denver Christkindlmarket

WHEN: Nov. 17–Dec. 23, 2023
WHERE: Civic Center Park101 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. This year’s market will include a “Kinder Wunderland” with s’more-making stations, yard games and age-appropriate activities. christkindlmarketdenver.com

Four Mile Historic Park: December Delights

WHEN: Dec. 8, 9, 15, 2023
WHERE: Four Mile Historic Park

Join Four Mile Historic Park for December Delights as we explore Victorian holiday traditions with an immersive experience in the Four Mile House. New this year, guests will be entertained by holiday classics from the Colorado Caroling Company as they wander the Park, and the Dapper Brass Band performing in Grant Hall. Don’t forget to visit Santa and Mrs. Claus in the Bee House or shop for that perfect gift from curated local vendors in the Holiday Marketplace. www.fourmilepark.org.

Downtown Denver Rink

WHEN: Nov. 2023 – February 2024
WHERE: Skyline Park
Bundle up for some free ice skating in the heart of downtown and enjoy special events. winterindenver.com/rinkDenver ice skating

Music & Performing Arts 

A Christmas Carol

WHEN: Nov. 17–Dec. 24, 2023
WHERE: Denver Performing Arts Complex, Wolf Theatre

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. denvercenter.orgImmersive Nutcracker

The Nutcracker by the Colorado Conservatory of Dance

WHEN: Dec. 9, 10, 16, 17, 2023
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. Note: Dec. 15 is a sensory-friendly performance. ccdance.org/performances

Colorado Ballet Presents ‘The Nutcracker’

WHEN: Nov. 25–Dec. 24, 2023
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. coloradoballet.org/The-Nutcracker

Home Alone Concert

WHEN: Nov. 24-25, 2023
WHERE: Boettcher Concert Hall in the Denver Performing Arts Complex

Celebrate this modern holiday classic featuring John Williams’ charming and delightful score performed live as the film is screened for your enjoyment! Hilarious and heartwarming, Home Alone is holiday fun for the entire family. tickets.coloradosymphony.org

Beauty and the Beast

WHEN: Nov. 25-Dec. 31, 2023
WHERE: Arvada Center

Be our guest this holiday season with a tale as old as time! When a prince is transformed into a Beast by a spell that can only be broken by true love, it’s up to the bookworm Belle to not only accept his love – but truly love him in return. arvadacenter.org

Granny Dances to a Holiday Drum

WHEN: Dec. 2-17, 2023
WHERE: Cleo Parker Robinson Dance Theatre
Granny Dances to a Holiday Drum is a multicultural celebration that touches the hearts of people of all backgrounds, kindling the wonderment and magic shared across the winter holiday season. Each year, Granny highlights new stories from her rich life dancing around the world, making way for new twists and scenes for an artistically fresh production every time. No wonder it’s one of the city’s most beloved family traditions inspiring audiences both young and old through the universal language of dance! cleoparkerdance.org/

A Colorado Christmas

WHEN: Dec. 8-10, 2023
WHERE: Boettcher Concert Hall in the Denver Performing Arts Complex

The warm sounds of the holidays fill the Hall with festive seasonal favorites! This family-friendly evening features Devin DeSantis and Christine Mild, with traditional Christmas carols, your favorite new winter tunes, and even some newly arranged surprises!coloradosymphony.org

Home for the Holidays

WHEN: Dec. 14-23, 2022
WHERE: Lone Tree Arts Center

There’s something for everyone in this holiday spectacular: dancers, singers, holiday songs, and, of course, celebrity appearances by Santa and Mrs. Claus. With an updated storyline for 2023 and a few spectacular surprises, Home for the Holidays is sure to delight and put you in the holiday spirit. After 10 years, Home for the Holidays will be going on a break—don’t miss your last chance to see this beloved holiday tradition.lonetreeartscenter.org

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Mile High Mamas
Author: Mile High Mamas

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