My family’s favorite annual travel tradition is visiting a city at Christmastime. Our most recent trip was to Denver, where we soaked up the holiday lights and tasty food at memorable restaurants. Here are the highlights of things to do in Denver at Christmas.
Disclosure: A portion of our visit was hosted by Visit Denver, the Denver Zoo, and The Curtis. All thoughts, opinions and typos are my own.
Denver Christmas events your family will love
2300 Steele St., Denver, Colorado
Denver Zoo goes big with its holiday lights displays. The ticketed event, Zoo Lights, runs mid-November through Jan. 2, 2022. You’ve never really seen a zoo in this…um, light, before. It’s beautiful.
Of course, being a zoo, quite a few of the lights are animals, some moving or blinking, others simply shine brightly.
There are treats for kids and adults to add to the festive atmosphere. Spiked warm drinks or beers by local breweries like Great Divide are available.
Blossoms of Light
1007 York St., Denver, Colorado
The Denver Botanic Gardens has an evening ticketed event called Blossoms of Light. We visited the gardens in the daytime, though, and still got to enjoy some of the displays of garland, bows, and stars.
We got a taste of what it will look like in the dark, when we stayed until closing time. It was dusk, but we could see some of the twinkling lights and it was very tempting to stick around.
The Future of Dessert – Holiday Edition
4433 W. 29th Ave., suite 101
The Inventing Room Dessert Shop has a holiday themed tasting experience that was enjoyable for all ages in our group. It’s a tasty exploration of molecular gastronomy and the flavors often were inspired by seasonal treats like candy canes and pumpkin spice-flavored everything.
See how I fit these experiences into a fun, three-day winter vacation to Denver!
Free things to do during the holidays in Denver
The annual Denver ChristkindlMarket is great for families and couples to explore, and it’s free to enter. Like any good German market, you’ll be tempted to buy sweet treats or warm drinks while you’re there, though. My kids talked me into some homemade cookies.
And of course, photo opps abound at the German-inspired market. That’s half the fun of a holiday market, right?
The city gets decked out for the holidays. A few great downtown areas to stroll for lights:
- 16th Street Mall (don’t forget there’s a free bus that runs frequently both directions along 16th Street! It makes getting around a snap)
- Larimar Square
- Union Station, both inside and outside, is decorated for Grand Illumination. Be sure to see the glorious tree inside the bustling terminal.
- Pop inside a few hotels see some great displays. I heard Renaissance Hotel has a great indoor display. The Curtis Hotel is known for its funky lobby decorations and the white and pink tree did not disappoint.
More holiday highlights in Denver
We visited Denver at the earliest possible time to catch some of the holiday festivities. Several things were opening after our visit, and others just weren’t possible to fit into our short stay. Here are a few 2021 holiday event highlights:
- Ice skating at Skyline Park (this is FREE!), through Dec. 31, 2021
- “The Nutcracker” presented by Colorado Ballet at Ellie Caulkins Opera House through Dec. 24, 2021
- Eliche Gardens opens for Luminova Holidays and limited rides through Jan. 2, 2022
- The massive Denver Performing Arts Plaza has several touring shows during the holiday season. Check the calendar to see what’s playing when you’re in town.
- Camp Christmas at Heritage Lakewood Belmar Park through Jan. 2, 2022
- Snow Days opens Dec. 8 and runs through Feb. 27, 2022 at the Children’s Museum of Denver Marsico Campus.
I’d love to hear from you about Denver during the holidays! Leave a comment with your recommendations.