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Winter Activities in Colorado’s State & National Parks

Trade in your summer hiking boots for snowshoes, cross-country skis or snowmobiles and experience Colorado’s state and national parks in the winter. Don’t miss these great recommendations from Colorado.com. 

1. Gem Lake at Rocky Mountain National Park

You can hardly go wrong when choosing a winter activ­ity within the massive confines of Rocky Mountain Na­tional Park, but snowshoeing is popular here for a few reasons: It’s easy for anyone to get the hang of, rentals are a breeze in gateway towns of Estes Park or Grand Lake, and it allows you to tread lightly through Mother Nature without overly demanding athletic distractions. The Gem Lake trail (1.6 miles) is a favorite among locals and boasts 1.8 billion-year-old granite high-rise walls and views of the Continental Divide.

Insider Tip: RMNP offers some the best ranger-led snowshoe programs in the state. Two-hour excursions begin at both the west (Grand Lake) and east (Estes Park) entrances January through March.

2. Family Weekend Getaway at Mueller State Park & Cheyenne Mountain State Park

Can’t pinpoint a winter activity that pleases every out­spoken family member? Mueller State Park, 40 minutes outside of Colorado Springs, has you covered with sledding, plenty of snowshoe and cross-country skiing trails and cozy winter cabins with modern amenities for those who prefer to celebrate winter by snuggling up next to a fire with a good book. And Cheyenne Mountain State Park, just 15 minutes south of town, offers an archery range, junior ranger program and geocaching to fill a winter’s day.  

Insider Tip: The affordable cabins at Mueller are exceptional when it comes to amenities, space, scenery and overall comfort. Give yourself plenty of leeway for reservations (available online or via phone at 800-678-2267).

3.  Moose Mayhem at State Forest State Park

The winter landscape grants some of the best op­portunities to watch mammals in their natural habi­tat. State Forest State Park, just east of Walden, is home to more than 600 moose that roam the park’s enormous 71,000 acres. But first things first: Stop by the Moose Visitor Center to get the inside scoop on where to watch these magnificent creatures.

Insider Tip: Snowmobiling through the park is a favorite for adrenaline junkies and free spirits. You’ll gain more ground (70 miles of trail in addition to access to Routt National Forest) and take advan­tage of picturesque terrain that’s buttressed by the Medicine Bow and Never Summer mountain ranges.

4. A Frozen Fortress Outside Great Sand Dunes National Park & Preserve

When many people think of Great Sand Dunes they think of a desert-like landscape. After all, the park boasts a whopping 30 square miles of sand dunes reaching heights up to 750 feet. The vastness feels even more visceral in winter with cooler temps, fewer visitors and the treasurable quietness that a fresh blanket of snow affords.

But a real treat is when the famous Zapata Falls, just 11 miles outside of the park, freezes into a 25-foot icy monument worthy of the White Witch’s castle in Narnia.

Insider Tip: Bring shoes that are suitable for hiking on ice. Nearby outdoor retailers sell affordable cram­pons that slip right over your hiking or snow boots for optimal stability.

5. Cross-Country Ski at Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Another bonus to winter in Colorado’s national parks is that cars are prohibited from mucking up trails primed for cross-country pioneers. This is certainly the case for one of the state’s most popular trails, South Rim Drive (7 miles), which swishes Nordic skiers and snow­shoers to staggering views of Gunnison’s snow-dusted “black” rock walls. Rent skis in Gunnison or Montrose and park at the South Rim Visitor Center.

Insider Tip: A few times a year the ranger program offers guided full-moon trips. If you think the canyon looks impressive during the day, just imagine those sheer rock faces under a moon­light beam. If the date’s not right, check out the ranger program’s stargazing and snowshoe tours.

Learn more about Colorado Nordic Centers >>

6. Ice Fishing at Eleven Mile State Park 

Coloradans don’t give up their favorite pursuits in the winter — they just have to switch them up a bit! How often do you get to spend quality time with your closest friends in a homely hut swapping stories and sippin’ beer? Amid all those good times, don’t forget about reeling in fleshy kokanee, trout and pike. Out-of-towners or newbies can visit 11 Mile Marina for equipment rentals or guided trips.

Insider Tip: Eleven Mile State Park is roughly one hour away from two of Colorado’s most popular destinations: Breckenridge and Colorado Springs. Make a weekend of your ice-fishing excursion and poke around these hot spots or meander your way into Park County’s lesser-known, but equally en­joyable, towns like Lake George or Alma to experience mountain-town hospitality at its finest.

Read more about places to ice fish in Colorado >>

7. A Different Take on Winter at Sylvan Lake State Park

Sylvan Lake State Park is arguably one of Colorado’s best-kept secrets for win­ter. Although Sylvan is located in the Vail Valley, a world-famous locale for skiers and snowboarders, it chooses to take a different spin on winter sans chairlifts and superpipes. Instead, visitors hit a jackpot of snow conditions, isolation and pure wilderness that yields an ar­ray of activities such as cross-country skiing, snowshoeing (rentals available at the visitor center), snowmobiling, ice fishing, sledding, wildlife watching and winter camping.

Insider Tip: Sylvan also grants access to White River National Forest’s vast landscape and trail system acces­sible via snowshoes, cross-country skies or snowmobiles.

8. Yurt Camping at Ridgway State Park

Ridgway State Park’s three yurts are found on the park’s Dakota Terraces, where mountain views are indescribable and the potential for coziness abounds. The round, tent-like structures can be rented for two nights at a time and are warmed by a propane heater/gas log stove. Perfect for those not looking to get too hale and hardy for winter camping, a year-round restroom with flush toilets and sinks is also close by, and bunks, futons, a couch, table and chairs, microwave and refrigerator, electrical outlets and lights make things nice and comfortable. 

Insider Tip: The park recommends visitors bring their own bedding (ie, typically a sleeping bag), camping-style cooking supplies and eating utensils. Pets are allowed in one of the yurts for a fee.

“Dead Sea Scrolls” Coming to Denver

 Tickets are on sale for “Dead Sea Scrolls,” the exhibition that has captivated millions around the world, which opens at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science on March 16. The regional premiere of this exhibition is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see authentic Dead Sea Scrolls, ancient manuscripts that include the oldest known biblical documents dating back over 2,000 years. The scrolls will be dramatically presented within a massive exhibit case featuring carefully regulated individual chambers, along with the full English translation.

Ten scrolls will be displayed when the exhibition opens. Due to strict preservation requirements, 10 different scrolls will arrive halfway through the run to replace the 10 initial scrolls. This will make it possible to see a total of 20 scrolls while the exhibition is in Denver. Each rotation includes a scroll that has never before been on public display.

In addition, more than 500 artifacts from the ancient Middle East will immerse guests in historic traditions and beliefs that continue to impact world cultures today. The authentic objects include inscriptions and seals, weapons, stone carvings, terra cotta figurines, remains of religious symbols, coins, shoes, textiles, mosaics, ceramics, jewelry and a three-ton stone from the Western Wall in Jerusalem, believed to have fallen in 70 CE. The exhibition is organized by the Israeli Antiquities Authority (IAA).

The Dead Sea Scrolls represent one of the most significant archaeological discoveries of the 20th century. In 1947, a Bedouin goat herder stumbled upon a hidden cave along the shore of the Dead Sea, near the site of the ancient settlement of Qumran. Concealed within the cave were scrolls that had not been seen for 2,000 years. After extensive excavation, thousands of fragments from more than 900 remarkably preserved scrolls were recovered, leading to decades of extraordinary scrutiny, preservation, debate and awe. 

Timed tickets will be required and advance reservations are strongly encouraged. Guests pay $25.95 adult, $21.95 senior (age 65+), $17.95 junior/student (ages 3–18 or with a student ID), which includes general admission. Museum members receive discounted admission to the exhibition. Group pricing is available. For tickets and information, call 303-370-6000 or visit dmns.org/deadseascrolls.

The exhibition will be open 10 a.m.–5 p.m.MondayFriday, and 9 a.m.–5 p.m.Saturday and Sunday, with last entry at 4 p.m. each day and extended hours at various times. (Note that due to carefully scheduled “light hours” for the fragile scrolls, the exhibition will open an hour later than the rest of the Museum, MondayFriday.)

Contest: Town of Parker Offers Winter Activities Perfect for the Whole Family

Known for its hometown charm, the Town of Parker offers visitors and residents a variety of fun activities for the entire family.  From skating along the Ice Trail at Discovery Park, appreciating local art, catching a performance at the PACE Center, indulging in retail therapy, and more, this great community has everything needed for fun-seekers looking to escape for the day.

A perfect outdoor activity when opting to stay on the Front Range and not battle ski traffic, adults and kiddos alike can slip on their skates and glide along the Parker Ice Trail at Discovery Park – one of the only Ice Trails in the country! The 450-foot long Ice Trail is designed to loop through the landscape like a frozen river. Stay warm by taking a seat next to any of three nearby fire pits, or by purchasing hot chocolate at the on-site concession stand. Cost to skate is $6-10, excluding skate rental.

For families looking for a little art and culture, take in a performance at the PACE Center, a state-of-the-art facility located on Parker’s historic Mainstreet, offering the best of touring acts, as well as local performances, exhibits and educational programs. In 2018, some kiddo-friendly highlights include The Little Mermaid, Under the Sea Luncheon, Henry and Mudge, and the Family Discovery Series. In addition to the 536-seat Mainstage theater, the PACE Center is home to a 3,000 square foot event room, art gallery, dance studio, teaching culinary kitchen, four multi-use classrooms and a unique interactive musical outdoor playground called Harmony Park. View the calendar for a list of upcoming shows and events. The PACE Center is also a great destination for date night!

Families can also take a self-guided tour through the Town of Parker’s celebrated pieces of public art at any time with Otocast, the mobile audio app. The Parker Artists Guild (PAG) has taken advantage of the platform to help visitors hear from the artists themselves and learn more about their works. Simply download the app from Google Play or the Apple App Store and select “Parker Arts” to get started.

 For the foodie families, visitors can savor their way through a selection of cozy, internationally inspired cuisine. And with more than 60 local restaurants, Parker has something to satisfy any craving. Take a mid-day break with delicious Swedish-American drinks from Fika Coffeehouse.  Portofino Pizza and Pasta is a perfect spot that will leave every family member feeling satisfied, or for those feeling like a taste of Asia, visit Indochine, which is a local’s favorite and offers a variety of delicious gluten-free, soy-free and vegan-friendly options. Looking to satisfy that sweet tooth? The award-winning Posh Pastries serves up special baked treats with a French twist, or stop by Le Baugette de Normandy for breads, pastries, handmade chocolates and more.

 In addition to all of this, the Town of Parker currently maintains approximately 250 acres of developed parkland, more than 1,200 acres of open space and over 30 miles of concrete and soft surface trails throughout Parker. The Town’s expansive parks and trails system provides endless opportunities to enjoy this beautiful region of Colorado, regardless of the time of year.

To learn more about the Town of Parker or to download a visitor’s guide, please visit www.ParkerOnline.org.

Contest

Mile High Mamas is giving away 4 Day Passes and 4 Skate Rentals to the Ice Trail at Discovery Park, a $20 Gift Certificate to the Concession Stand at the Ice Trail and a $100 Gift Certificate to the PAC Center. Total Value: $150. You may enter as many as five times below. 

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Day Passes/Rentals can be used all at the same time or at different times (i.e. family of four could go once, parent and kiddo could go twice, etc). There is no expiration date.  The $100 PACE Center GC can be used toward any event/performance throughout the 2018 Year.

Activities & Events to Celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day in Denver

Civil Rights Leader Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy is commemorated in The Mile High City every January with what has grown to be one of the largest MLK Day celebrations in the U.S. — even larger than that of Washington, D.C.

THE MARADE

Monday, January 16, 2017
Join fellow marchers and parade fans in this year’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Marade. Participants will congregate at the Dr. King memorial site in City Park at 9 a.m. The Marade begins at 10 a.m. with participants marching together to Civic Center Park, where cake will be served. The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. yearbook will be signed again this year at the Colorado State Capitol Building, and program festivities are expected to end at 1 p.m.

THE MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. AFRICAN-AMERICAN RODEO OF CHAMPIONS

Monday, January 16, 2017
Coinciding with the National Western Stock Show & Rodeo, the Martin Luther King Jr. African-American Rodeo of Champions at the National Western Complex (4655 Humboldt St.) aims to show how black cowboys and cowgirls impacted the West throughout history. The Rodeo begins at 6 p.m.

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7 Martin Luther King, Jr. Day Crafts for Kids

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20 New Year’s Eve Events in Denver 2017!

FAMILY-FRIENDLY NEW YEAR’S ACTIVITIES

NOON YEAR’S EVE

WHEN: Dec. 31, 2017 
WHERE: Children’s Museum of Denver at Marsico Campus

Children can experience the excitement, thrills and festive fun of New Year’s Eve in Times Square right here in Denver — all before bedtime! Noon Year’s Eve celebrates the New Year with glittery ball drops, rainbows of confetti and huge sheets of bubble wrap (the museum’s version of fireworks) for kids to stomp on. After the ball drops, the celebration keeps going with sparkling art projects and heaps of activities on the plaza. 

NEW YEAR’S EVE FIREWORKS IN DENVER

WHEN: Dec. 31, 2017 
WHERE: Downtown Denver

The sky will once again sparkle over downtown at the close of 2017 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. Costumed entertainers will interact with crowds between shows, including magicians, mascots, balloon artists, stilt walkers and comedians.

Please note, between 8 p.m. and 1 a.m., RTD Light Rail trains will not cross the 16th Street Mall, and mall ride shuttles will stop temporarily during the two fireworks shows.

DENVER PAVILIONS HOLIDAY CAROUSEL

WHEN: Dec. 15, 2017–Jan. 2, 2018
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.

ZOO YEAR’S EVE

WHEN: Dec. 31, 2017, 5:30-9 p.m.
WHERE: Denver Zoo

This New Year’s Eve, take the kids on a safari through the Denver Zoo, where you’ll spot more than 150 illuminated animal sculptures, from swinging monkeys to jumping kangaroos. 

DOWNTOWN DENVER RINK AT SKYLINE PARK

WHEN: Nov. 21, 2017–Feb. 14, 2018
WHERE: Skyline Park, the corner of 16th and Arapahoe
Grab your family and friends and head to 16th and Arapahoe in downtown Denver to the Downtown Denver Rink at Skyline Park. Skate rentals are $6-$8, or bring your own pair and take a spin on the ice 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. 

COMEDY WORKS’ RING IN THE NEW YEAR

WHEN: Dec. 31, 2017, 5 and 6 p.m.
WHERE: Comedy Works Downtown and South Locations
Both of Comedy Works’ locations will offer all-ages family comedy shows on New Year’s Eve.  Comedians are Al Goodwin, Dan Cummins, and Steve ‘Mudflap’ Mcgrew.

NEW YEAR’S FOR GROWN-UPS

CITY NYE – DENVER NEW YEAR’S EVE PARTY

WHEN: Dec. 31, 2017
WHERE: McNichols Civic Center Building, Denver Arts and Venues

This New Year’s bash boasts three floors of DJs, dance parties, live music, art installations and open bars. Don’t want to miss the fireworks? You don’t have to! The McNichols Building offers a direct view of the Denver New Year’s Eve Fireworks show. 

DENVER’S GRANDEST NEW YEAR’S EVE PARTY

WHEN: Dec. 31, 2017
WHERE: Grand Hyatt Denver

Can’t decide what to do for NYE? Enjoy three parties in one at the Grand Hyatt Denver! Rock out to the sounds of the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s with the Nacho Men; dance to today’s hottest beats with Club X; or make your own music in the karaoke lobby. Denver’s Grandest New Year’s Eve Party includes open bar with premium pour, a dinner buffet, balloon drops and a champagne toast at midnight. 

DENVER UNION STATION

WHEN: Dec. 31, 2017 starting at 9 p.m.
WHERE: Denver Union Station
Denver Union Stationis offering three separate rousing New Year’s Eve events: 1) Great Hall Light Show & Silent Disco: The Ultimate NYE Experience. Dance the night away at a Silent Disco leading up to an extravagant light show on the Great Hall ceiling at midnightTickets: $50 in advance, $75 at door. 2) VIP Lower Level Lounge Party. An exclusive lounge party in an intimate setting in the Lower Level event space at Denver Union Station. Tickets: $150 in advance, $175 at the door. 3) NYE Countdown in the Cooper Lounge. Countdown the clock in Denver’s most romantic spot, the Cooper Lounge. $75 per person, reservations required: 720-460-3738Each event has limited availability, so advanced purchase is highly recommended. Please visit www.unionstationindenver.com for more details or to purchase your tickets today. 

NYE GREAT GATSBY 16TH WHITE ROSE GALA

WHEN: Dec. 31, 2017
WHERE: Ellie Caulkins Opera House

It’s been nearly a century, but the Roaring 20’s are still the epitome of glitz and glamor, swing and style — everything you want in a New Year’s Eve celebration. Don your best flapper dress or fedora and enjoy multiple rooms of music, from live swing bands to DJs spinning the latest club music and hip hop. 

TAVERN DOWNTOWN’S NEON NEW YEAR’S CELEBRATION

WHEN: Dec. 31, 2017
WHERE: Tavern Downtown and Cowboy Lounge

Attendees gain access to both Tavern Downtown and the adjacent Cowboy Lounge to enjoy three DJs, a photo booth, balloon drop and raffle prizes. Revelers will have a front-row seat to the biggest fireworks show in LoDo, with the display going off directly across from Tavern Downtown’s rooftop.

TAVERN TECH CENTER’S A TOTALLY ’80S NYE PARTY

WHEN: Dec. 31, 2017
WHERE: Tavern Tech Center

This celebration will take you back to the days of leg warmers, shoulder pads and Madonna-esque attire. Guests are encouraged to search through their closets and don their finest ’80s outfits. Admission includes a beer, Fireball shot, champagne toast, party favors and big raffle prizes.

COLORADO AVALANCHE VS. NEW YORK ISLANDERS – WITH FIREWORKS!

WHEN: Dec. 31, 2017
WHERE: Pepsi Center

Fireworks on ice? Believe it. Come cheer on the Colorado Avalanche as they take on the New York Islanders, and stay for the post-game fireworks show — an Avs game first!

DENVER BRONCOS VS. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS

WHEN: Dec. 31, 2017
WHERE: Sports Authority Field at Mile High

Celebrate the end of the year by cheering on the Denver Broncos as they take on the Kansas City Chiefs.

MUSIC AND ENTERTAINMENT

UMPHREY’S MCGEE

WHEN: Dec. 29–31, 2017
WHERE: Fillmore Auditorium​

Jam out to the psychedelic stylings of Umphrey’s McGee at the Fillmore Auditorium this New Year’s Eve weekend. 

SLIM CESSNA’S AUTO CLUB

WHEN: Dec. 29–31, 2017
WHERE: Globe Hall

Slim Cessna, Munly Munly and the rest of the Auto Club captivate with their weird and wild brand of country music in this three-night series that culminates on New Year’s Eve. 

DECADENCE 2017

WHEN: Dec. 30–31, 2017
WHERE: Colorado Convention Center

The theme of this two-night dance and music celebration is “City Beyond Tomorrow” —and what better time to look to the future than when you’re ringing in a new year? This year’s event features artists like Bassnectar, Diplo, Gramatik, Armin van Buuren, Galantis, ODESZA and many more.

A NIGHT IN VIENNA

WHEN: Dec. 31, 2017 
WHERE: Boettcher Concert Hall in the Denver Performing Arts Complex

Join the Colorado Symphony as they transport you to Austria with an evening of polkas, waltzes and marches conducted by Music Director Brett Mitchell. This annual tradition is the perfect way to say Auf Wiedersehen to 2017. 

MY MORNING JACKET

WHEN: Dec. 31, 2017
WHERE: 1STBANK Center

Rock in the new year with My Morning Jacket at Broomfield’s 1STBANK Center

NEW YEAR’S EVE ON THE ROCKS

WHEN: Dec. 31, 2017
WHERE: Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre

Colorado’s most iconic music venue is welcoming 2018 with its first-ever New Year’s concert, featuring The Migos, Post Malone, Young Thug, Lil Yachty, Dizzy Wright, King Green, Maleman, Jairon, Cassidy and Splyt. 

Win tickets to the 27th annual Zoo Lights!

Denver Zoo’s 27th annual Zoo Lights celebration will light up guests’ holiday seasons. Presented by Your Hometown Toyota Stores, the Rocky Mountain region’s largest lighting event will run nightly from December 1- December 31, 2017 (closed on Christmas, December 25), from 5:30-9 p.m. Guests of this popular holiday tradition will experience a light safari with 60 brilliantly-illuminated acres of lights, featuring more than 130 animated animal sculptures that swing through trees, jump across lawns, hide in bushes and appear in places where they’re least expected.

For the first time, guests this year will even be able to control some of those sculptures at special, interactive stations at the Zoo’s Giraffe Meadows area. Two vignettes of animals in their habitats will be operated by “kid-level” control panels. These panels will include foot pedals, switches and buttons to activate a different portion of each vignette, such as a hippo and pond. The portions of the vignettes that light up are designed to get guests thinking about what makes a habitat a home for animals. For example, a tree will illuminate to emphasize that it is an important component of a giraffe habitat for several different reasons: shade, shelter and food.

The event’s festivities will also include chances to meet Santa Claus, live animal demonstrations, carolers, delicious holiday treats at warming stations throughout the Zoo and at the ever-popular Zoo Year’s Eve party.

Denver Zoo will once again offer Value Night pricing, from December 1 to 14, to encourage guests to visit Zoo Lights on nights that are traditionally not as crowded. These reduced admission nights will offer an experience with fewer lines and more available parking, but still offer all the same experiences guests will receive on a Peak Night.

Admission for Value Nights, without a discount, is $13 for adults (12-64), $9 for children (3-11), $11 for senior citizens (65+) and children 2 and under are free.

From December 15 to 31, admission will increase for Peak Nights to $17 for adults (12-64), $12 for children (3-11), $14 for senior citizens (65+). Children 2 and under are still admitted free.

There are a limited number of tickets available for each evening of Zoo Lights. Guests are encouraged to purchase discounted tickets online before event dates sell out. A $2 discount is offered on all tickets purchased online and Denver Zoo members receive an additional discount. For more information and to purchase tickets visit www.denverzoo.org or call 720-337-1400.

Please note: Denver Zoo will be closed on Christmas, December 25. Also, don’t miss Zoo Year’s Eve on December 31, 2017 for Zoo Year’s Eve during our Zoo Lights celebration. The evening features fun activities for the entire family, like dancing, face painting and an early New Year’s Eve countdown at 9 p.m. so your little ones can enjoy the holiday and still get home for bed early.

Contest

Mile High Mamas is giving away a family four-pack of tickets to Zoo Lights. You may enter as many as five times.

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Colorado’s Best Holiday Markets

European-Style Markets

Enter a wonderland where vendors sell gifts in rustic wooden stalls, choirs croon joyful tunes and be-scarfed patrons sip mulled cider.

Denver Christkindl Market, Nov. 17–Dec. 23, 2017

Skyline Park is transformed into a miniature German village during this favorite Denver event, where Bavarian musicians play classic carols and dance-worthy melodies, and vendors dish up specialties served at traditional German Christmas markets, including baked apples, gingerbread biscuits, charcoal-grilled sausages and, of course, spicy mulled wine (gluehwein).

Pick up cuckoo clocks, beer steins and other imported gifts for your loved ones, and sip gluehwein (something that might result in you picking up even more clocks and steins than you originally planned) as you get lost in the twinkling landscape. For more festive fun, stroll to Skyline Park’s Southwest Rink for some ice skating.

Georgetown Christmas Market, Dec. 2–3, 9–10, 2017

Historic Georgetown’s old-school charm is enhanced at one of the state’s most cherished wintertime traditions. At the market, horse-drawn wagon rides take patrons through snow-blanketed streets past decorated storefronts; a Victorian-robed St. Nicholas greets rosy-cheeked tots who never whine or cry, and stalls feature handicrafts by local artisans.

A giant lit-up tree, the harmonic voices of choirs and views of the snow-dusted mountains above add to the dreamy scene. For the ultimate experience, take a Christmas museum tour of the Hamill House or Hotel de Paris, or book a special holiday-themed ride on the Georgetown Loop Railroad.

Other Holiday-Shopping Events in Colorado

From winter produce to works by respected Colorado artists, these less-traditional markets boast local treasures and merry entertainment.  

Holiday Art Market at Olde Golden Christmas, Nov. 10–Dec. 31, 2017

More than 100 Colorado artists show off their prized works at Golden’s Foothills Art Center, where you can browse for jewelry, ceramics, glass, photography, paintings and more. Other notable festivities include a parade with Newfoundland dog-cart rides for kids (as if they were the only ones to appreciate a dog parade!), candlelight walk and more.

Boulder County Farmers Markets Winter Market, Dec. 2–3, 2017

Some of the best farmers and artisans on the Front Range bring their coolest goods to this bustling market at Longmont’s Boulder County Fairgrounds. Nibble on freshly baked cookies and other treats while you visit booths featuring works by more than 50 artists and tons of vendors selling organic veggies, honey, wine, coffee and more. Enjoy free giftwrapping, live music and kids’ activities. 

Holiday Market at Durango Farmers Market, Dec. 9, 2017

Groove to live music at La Plata County Fairgrounds as you shop for locally farmed meats, produce and cheeses to spice up your upcoming holiday gorging. Then, grab some coffee and have your photo taken with performers in Victorian-era garb.

Christmas Craft Fair at Cripple Creek’s Gold Camp Christmas, Dec. 9, 2017

Craft-rusty individuals seeking handmade gifts will hit the jackpot at this unique Cripple Creek celebration, where shopping opportunities include the bazaar, Sugar Plum Gift Shop and Elf Emporium. Don’t miss the Gold Camp Holiday Headframe Lighting, when the headframes (towers above underground mine shafts) at area mines are illuminated.

Minturn Winter Market, Dec. 2 & 9, 2017

Crackling bonfires, s’mores and carolers add pizzazz to the Minturn Market, a summer farmers’ market that becomes a winter delight for two Saturdays in December. From woodwork to homemade fudge, shoppers won’t be disappointed with the vendors, most of which are dedicated to using local ingredients and materials. 

Want More?

Read more about cold-weather celebrations in Colorado, including winter festivals, carnivals and competitions and holiday-lighting fun, and view these event listings for additional ways to herald the season.

Photo Credit: Denver Christkindl Market 

Contest: Santa’s Village at Chatfield Farms is Denver’s Newest Holiday Hotspot

Did you know that Denver is the birthplace of outdoor holiday lights? Maybe that’s why we are surrounded by spectacular displays every holiday season. There are many magical options to explore. Cold nights are warmed by the beauty and creativity of these wonderlands. One of the newest night light walks is at the Denver Botanic Garden’s Chatfield Farms.

You might be familiar with the Trail of Lights they staged for so many years. 2017 brings a new experience called Santa’s Village at Chatfield Farms. Gorgeously-lit trees are still in abundance! However, they’ve expanded the Santa Claus encounter with a lot of creative, thoughtful touches. It’s a more immersive, hands-on evening of holiday fun.

Of course you can meet the jolly man himself and take photos. He sits in a beautifully decorated sleigh with plenty of room for your wide-eyed crew. Mrs. Claus is near, ready to read beloved Christmas stories and do crafts with your family. The kids decorated plain white ceramic plates with permanent markers. The plates can be baked at home to set the marker. This is a wonderful keepsake of a special night.

Comet and Cupid are on the premises, enjoying a snack and letting visitors pet their furry heads. Nearby, Santa’s Workshop is stocked with interesting craft vendors selling food and decor. Take a stroll down Elf Boulevard and see where the elves work and go to school. The elves even have Santa’s Cinema, a warm yurt where short holiday films play.

One of the highlights is the hayride through the farm. You can take a one-way trip or a round trip through illuminated trees. The old farmhouse is open so you can get a glimpse of what Christmas looked like long ago.

Wrap up the night with a cup of cocoa next to the fire pit! It’s a welcome spot of calm in this busy season.

Here are some important things to know before you go!

Santa’s Village at Chatfield Farms is weekends only! It’s open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights until December 24th.

Hours are 4:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. with admission stopping at 7:30 p.m.

There are a limited amount of tickets available for each night. They can sell out!

Parking is free!

Dress for the outdoors. There are indoor activities and places to warm up, too.

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit www.botanicgardens.org

Win a Family Four-Pack of Tickets

Mile High Mamas is giving away a four-pack of tickets to Santa’s Village at Chatfield Farms.

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Guide to Denver’s Holiday Happenings & Santa Sightings

The holiday season is a magical time to visit Denver with theater, music and dance performances. Plus, Santa sightings, holiday shopping and lighting extravaganzas. There’s fun for all ages. Visit Denver shares these memorable ways to celebrate the holidays this year.

THE POLAR EXPRESSTM TRAIN RIDE

WHEN: Nov. 24–26 and 29–30; Dec. 1–3, 6–10 and 13–23, 2017
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.

BLOSSOMS OF LIGHT

WHEN: Nov. 24, 2017–Jan. 1, 2018
WHERE: Denver Botanic Gardens

Embrace the holiday season at Blossoms of Light. The first night will display over one million colorful lights draped in elegant designs highlighting the Gardens’ winter beauty. Enjoy sparkling passages, new displays and romantic kissing spots under the mistletoe, all made even more beautiful through HoloSpex glasses. Warm drinks and tasty treats will also be available. 

ICE SKATING AT DENVER INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT

WHEN: Nov. 24, 2017–Jan. 7, 2018
WHERE: Denver International Airport

Heading out of town? Get to Denver International Airport early and enjoy their free ice skating rink, entertainment and family-friendly music on the DEN plaza. Or make a special trip just for the fun of it!

DENVER CHRISTKINDL MARKET

WHEN: Nov. 17–Dec. 23, 2017
WHERE: Skyline Park
The Christkindl Market includes vendors from Germany and other countries, as well as local artisans, offering high-quality, handcrafted gifts such as traditional hand-carved wooden figurines, handmade candles and ornaments. Traditional German food will tempt your taste buds. Sip on warm Glühwein (hot spiced wine) as you listen to traditional Christmas carols and live German music. Entry is free and the entire family is invited to enjoy this great tradition! 

DOWNTOWN DENVER RINK AT SKYLINE PARK

WHENNov. 21, 2017–Feb. 14, 2018
WHERESkyline Park, the corner of 16th and Arapahoe
One of the most popular holiday events in Denver, the Downtown Denver Rink at Skyline Parkin Downtown Denver returns in 2017 with ice skating and family fun. The rink is free and open to the public with the option to bring your own skates or rent a pair at a minimal cost. 

SANTA’S VILLAGE

WHEN: Nov. 24–Dec. 24, 2017
WHERE
Chatfield Farms Botanic Gardens
Explore Chatfield Farms as it is transformed into a magical Christmas village. Santa’s Village is a family-friendly holiday event including hayrides, holiday gifts, a trail of lights, Santa’s Workshop and so much more.

COLORADO BALLET’S ‘THE NUTCRACKER’

WHEN: Nov. 25–Dec. 24, 2017
WHERE: Ellie Caulkins Opera House

It’s not the holidays until you see visions of sugar-plum fairies dancing before your eyes. Colorado Ballet’s “The Nutcracker” is a cherished family holiday tradition and the largest production of the holiday favorite in Colorado.

ZOO LIGHTS

WHEN: Dec. 1–31, 2017
WHERE: Denver Zoo

Zoo Lights spans 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.

ANNUAL TUBACHRISTMAS

WHEN: Dec. 17, 2017
WHERE: Downtown Denver
Tired of the same old holiday soundtrack? Revive your holiday spirit at the Annual TubaChristmas Concert in Skyline Park! Tap your toes to your favorite holiday tunes being played by 300 tuba players from all over the region. Skyline Park will be decorated for the season, making it a perfect setting to experience this holiday spectacular.

DENVER PAVILIONS HOLIDAY CAROUSEL

WHEN: Dec. 15, 2017–Jan. 2, 2018
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.

OLDE GOLDEN CHRISTMAS

WHEN: Candlelight Walk, Dec. 1, 2017; Christmas Parades, Dec. 2, 9 and 16, 2017
WHERE: 911 10th Street, Golden

Olde Golden Christmas includes a community candlelight walk, Victorian carolers, free Newfoundland dog-pulled cart rides, holiday art market, parades, shopping, music and theater productions, Santa Claus, holiday lights, art and more!

NOON YEAR’S EVE

WHEN: Dec. 31, 2017
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!

NYE GREAT GATSBY WHITE ROSE GALA

WHEN: Dec. 31, 2017
WHERE: Ellie Caulkins Opera House

Known as one of Denver’s Top New Year Eve Parties, the NYE Great Gatsby White Rose Gala is a high end and elegant charity event where you are enveloped by musical and theatrical performances that take you back to the Roaring 20’s.

NATIONAL WESTERN STOCK SHOW & RODEO

WHEN: Jan. 6–21, 2018
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. 

Santa Sightings

SANTA’S FLIGHT ACADEMY

WHEN: Nov. 9–Dec. 24, 2017
WHERE: Cherry Creek Shopping Center
Santa’s Flight Academy is a wholly interactive and magical hero’s journey that transforms children into key members of Santa’s Flight Crew. Create memorable and sharable moments for families, including the Flight Suit Visualizer and the Flight Navigation Station. Experience a magical snow and light show inside Santa’s sleigh and, of course, a visit with Santa Claus.

SANTA’S VILLAGE

WHEN: Nov. 24–Dec. 24, 2017
WHERE
Chatfield Farms Botanic Gardens
Explore Chatfield Farms as it is transformed into a magical village. Santa’s Village is a family-friendly holiday event including hayrides, holiday gifts, Santa’s Workshop and so much more.

BREAKFAST WITH SANTA

WHEN: Dec. 9–10, 16–17 and 22–24, 2017
WHERE: Downtown Aquarium
Join Sharkey and Santa for a delicious breakfast buffet at Denver’s Downtown Aquarium! After breakfast, explore the Aquarium Adventure Exhibit with more than one million gallons of extraordinary marine life. 

SANTA ON THE SQUARE

WHEN: Saturdays (Nov. 25 – Decc 2310:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.; Sundays (Nov. 26 – Dec. 2412:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
WHERE: Larimer Square, Larimer Street, between 14th and 15th streets
Throughout the month of December, Santa and Mrs. Claus will be visiting Larimer Square. It’s the perfect opportunity to tell Santa what you want for Christmas and to make sure you’ve made the Nice list this year. Photos will Santa and Mrs. Claus are free but please bring your own camera.

PHOTOS WITH SANTA

WHEN: Nov. 10–Dec. 24, 2017
WHERE: Park Meadows Retail Resort
Colorado’s largest enclosed shopping center will offer plenty of time with Santa this holiday season. With events from Pet Nights to Family Portraits, Park Meadows offers a Santa experience for the entire family.

SANTA’S TOY FACTORY

WHEN: Nov. 11–Dec. 24, 2017
WHERE: Southwest Plaza
Kids can make like elves and test new toys and even digitally design their own at Santa’s Toy Factory in Southwest Plaza. There are also plenty of opportunities to meet jolly St. Nick himself, including a Holiday PJ Night with Santa, Ugly Sweater Night with Santa and Caroling Night with Santa. Pet lovers can even bring their four-legged friends for Pet Photos with Santa!

 

Win Tickets to Disney on Ice’s ‘Follow Your Heart’

Disney On Ice presents Follow Your Heart!  On Dec. 7-10,  this ice skating extravaganza featuring Disney Pixar’s Inside Out, Disney’s Frozen and other beloved Disney stories at the Pepsi Center. 

About the Show

 Just keep swimming with Dory, Nemo, Marlin and new pal Hank from Disney•Pixar’s Finding Dory as they embark on a life-changing excursion to find her parents and discover the true meaning of family. Cheer with the Emotions from Disney•Pixar’s Inside Out –Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear and Disgust– as they help Riley find the confidence to win the hockey championship and experience the emotional rollercoaster of growing up. Venture to wintery world of Arendelle where Olaf and Kristoff help reunite royal sisters Anna and Elsa from Disney’s Frozen and learn love is the most powerful magic of all. See Cinderella, Rapunzel, Tiana and the Disney Princesses make their dreams come true through their virtues of bravery, kindness and perseverance. And celebrate true friendship with Buzz Lightyear, Woody and The Toy Story gang. Make unforgettable memories with Mickey, Minnie and all your Disney friends when Disney On Ice presents Follow Your Heart skates into your hometown! 
 
Denver Performance Schedule:
Thurs., Dec. 7:  7:00 p.m.
Fri., Dec. 8:  11:00 a.m.7:00 p.m.
Sat., Dec. 9:  11:00 a.m.3:00 p.m.7:00 p.m.
Sun., Dec. 101:00 p.m.5:00 p.m.
 
For more info about the show, please visit www.FeldEntertainment.com/PressRoom[feldentertainment.com.

Discount

Save $5 on your ticket using promo code HEART. 

Contest

Mile High Mamas is giving away a family four-pack of tickets on opening night, Thursday, Dec. 7. Note: These tickets are non-transferable. You may enter as many as five times. 

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