Last Updated October 6, 2021 10/6/2021

9 Best Holiday Events in Colorado

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Looking for some holiday fun in Colorado this season? You’re spoiled for choices, with both indoor and outdoor events across the state, but these options are sure to be especially unforgettable.

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Denver Christkindlmarket, Denver
Denver Christkindlmarket

Denver Christkindlmarket, Denver

The Denver Christkindlmarket transforms Civic Center Park into a magical European-style Christmas village. It begins on November 19th and runs through December 23rd, 2021, featuring lots of dazzling lights, festive tunes, dancing, wooden vendor huts and an authentic German Bier Hall. It’s similar to what’s hosted in so many German public squares, with all sorts of craft artisans, gifts, bakers and chefs from around the world serving up holiday treats, and of course, plenty of beer and mulled wine.

Polar Express Train Ride, Durango
Polar Express Train Ride

Polar Express Train Ride, Durango

The famous Durango & Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad in the southwestern town of Durango, hosts its Polar Express train ride, one of the most memorable ways to celebrate the season, starting November 19th, 2021. It runs through January 1st, and is inspired by the award-winning book authored by Chris Van Allsburg, as well as the hit movie starring Tom Hanks. The ride brings this holiday classic to life, in a magical journey to the North Pole aboard the historic steam train. Some of Santa’s helpers are dressed in chefs’ hats and coats to serve up hot chocolate and cookies, while others tell the Polar Express tale. The story ends just as the train pulls into the “North Pole,” when the lights dim and Santa arrives to greet the children. He also brings a special gift, to each and everyone, and leads the group in Christmas Carols as the train makes its way back to the depot in Durango.

Lighting of Breckenridge & Race of the Santas, Breckenridge
Lighting of Breckenridge & Race of The Santas

Lighting of Breckenridge & Race of the Santas, Breckenridge

Breckenridge hosts one of the state’s most popular events, the Lighting of Breckenridge and the Race of the Santas. You can participate or just watch as the hundreds of jolly attendees decked out in Santa outfits run down Main Street to benefit the town’s boy scout troop. You can even bring your four-legged best friend to help lead Santa Claus himself down Main Street as he heads to Blue River Plaza. This is where he’ll greet everyone for the Lighting of Breckenridge. He’ll hit a “magical switch” that lights up Breckenridge for this wondrous season, turning it into the quintessential picture-perfect “Christmas town.” The event is held on December 4th, 2021.

The Santa Express at the Royal Gorge, Canon City
Santa Express Train at the Royal Gorge

The Santa Express at the Royal Gorge, Canon City

If you love the idea of a Christmas train, but Durango is too far of a drive, consider the Santa Express Train at the Royal Gorge in Canon City. Just a little over two hours from Denver, rather than six, it offers the chance to travel on a train to the North Pole and meet Santa Claus too. Everyone can wear comfy pajamas, and on the way, sing holiday classics, munch on delicious cookies, sip hot cocoa and enjoy plenty of entertainment brought by Santa’s talented elves.

Parade of Lights, Denver
9NEWS Parade of Lights

Parade of Lights, Denver

The 9News Parade of Lights is one of Denver’s most popular holiday events. The parade travels for two miles through downtown and features elaborate floats, balloons, dance troops, marching bands, Santa Clause and Major Waddles the Penguin, kicking off a season of festivities. Keep warm by picking up some hot chocolate and bundling up.

Zoo Lights at the Denver Zoo, Denver
Credit: Denver Zoo
Zoo Lights at the Denver Zoo

Zoo Lights at the Denver Zoo, Denver

Zoo Lights at the Denver Zoo is the largest lighting event in the Rockies. It features 70 acres of illuminated sculptures as well as offering a host of activities and attractions. Meet Santa Claus, watching live animal demonstrations, check out the ice carvers at work, enjoy the sounds of carolers, singing princesses and instrumental bands, and enjoy plenty of fabulous holiday treats, with options for both the kids and adults. The lights start on November 22nd and last until January 2nd.

Holiday & Christmas Shows at Denver Theater, Denver
The Colorado Ballet

Holiday & Christmas Shows at Denver Theater, Denver

Enjoying a holiday production from one of Denver’s many theaters is certainly not the tradition to skip. Popular productions include A Christmas Carol, Elf, and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. You can also catch a renowned production of The Nutcracker performed by Colorado Ballet. Check here for showtimes and tickets in Denver.

A Cripple Creek Christmas Carol, Cripple Creek
Cripple Creek Christmas

A Cripple Creek Christmas Carol, Cripple Creek

A popular destination for those who want to test their luck at the casinos, or get a taste of history and the Old West, during the holiday season, Cripple Creek offers the chance to experience all of that with a Christmas twist. The historic Butte Theater features melodrama with a holiday theme, which includes the Dickens’ favorite, “A Cripple Creek Christmas Carol”. The town hosts a range of other Christmas activities too, including the nightly Gold Camp Christmas Holiday Headframe Lighting and the Winter Wonderland at the Cripple Creek District Museum.

Old Colorado City Christmas Stroll, Colorado Springs
Old Colorado City Christmas Stroll

Old Colorado City Christmas Stroll, Colorado Springs

Old Colorado City Christmas Stroll is hosted in Old Colorado City, located on the west side of Colorado Springs and filled with history. This is your opportunity to dress in Victorian costume and join in the fun. There are Victorian dances, original Dickens carolers, sing-alongs, parades and the opportunity to get the kids pictures taken with Santa Claus. A variety of shops offer all sorts of delicious treats, and it’s also a good time to pick up unique holiday gifts too.

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